SOPHOCLES. Tragoediae septem cum commentariis, in Greek. Edited by John Gregoropoulos of Crete. Venice: at the Academy of Aldus of Rome, August 1502 [or the following winter].
Aldine 8o (152 x 94 mm). 196 leaves, including 3 blanks. Types 1:80 italic, 4:79 Greek, cut by Francesco Griffo. General title, Latin dedication to Janus Lascaris, epigrams of Simonides, Erucius and Dioscorides the Alexandrian from the Anthology, 6 divisional titles, woodcut dolphin and anchor device (Fletcher no. 2) on verso of last leaf. (Title slightly stained and with 2 small wormholes not affecting text, small wormhole through last 14 leaves, a very few small marginal stains, hint of dust-soiling to upper edges, spotting in gutters of v-ar.) 18th-century red morocco, sides gilt panelled, spine gilt, gilt edges (rubbed, joints cracked). Provenenance: Francis Turner (1808 presentation inscription to:) N. Girdlestone (1864 presentation inscription to:) John Farnham Messinger.
EDITIO PRINCEPS. One of the most important of Aldus' Greek editions both textually and typographically, this remained the best available edition of Sophocles' text until the 19th century, when superior manuscripts became the object of scholarly study. The scholia promised in the title were not finally included, as explained in Aldus's prefatory letter; Lascaris published them in 1518, at the Medicean press at Rome. The Sophocles was the first Greek book issued in Aldus' portable format, and the first classical text printed in Francesco Griffo's fourth type, the smallest and most delicate of the Aldine Greek types, modelled on Aldus's own Greek hand.
This was the first Aldine edition to mention in the colophon Aldus's Greek Neakadamia, which combined a dining club with a serious educational movement concerned with the revival of classical culture. (Aldus's preface to Lascaris describes a firelit meeting of the academy, where Greek alone was spoken.) Beyond this restricted group of readers, Aldus may have intended the edition largely for the Greek emigré community in Venice, or partly for export: "Despite some professions of enthusiasm for Greek tragedy by the Italians... it is not likely that many Italians were able to read the plays... What sales Aldus can realistically have expected must remain uncertain" (Wilson, From Byzantium to Italy, Baltimore 1992, p. 138). Adams S-1438; Ahmanson-Murphy 48; Renouard 34.6.