SUDA -- Lexicon, in Greek. Edited by Demetrius Chalcondylas (1423-1501). Milan: Johannes Bissolus and Benedictus Mangius, for Demetrius Chalcondylas, 15 November 1499.
Median 2o (330 x 223 mm). Collation: s8 aalls8; s8 ADs8 Es6 Zs6 (r dialogue in Greek by Stephanus Niger, v Latin verses by Antonius Motta, r editor's dedicatory letter in Latin to Alberto Pio, Prince of Carpi, v editor's preface in Greek, r text, Zv register, colophon and printer's device, Zr verses by Johannes Salandus addressed to the editor and to the reader, Zv blank). 516 leaves. 45 lines. Types: 1:138Gr (Niger's dialogue on r), 2:109Gk, 3:112R. Woodcut printer's device with motto from Horace. 8- and 5-line initial spaces, a few with printed guide letters. (Fols. llv and r-v repaired, with about 2 dozen words neatly replaced with strips cut from a later edition, occasional light dampstaining to upper margins, a few small marginal tears.) Late 18th-century English green morocco gilt over pasteboard, sides with ribbon roll-tool border, spine in six compartments, red morocco lettering-piece in the second, the remainder gold-tooled with floral and foliate tools, gilt edges, marbled endpapers (rubbed, spine faded, upper hinge weak).
Provenance: contemporary Greek marginalia (cropped and faded), some 16th-century marginalia in Greek and Latin -- John Glover (librarian at Trinity College, Cambridge, Shakespeare editor 1863) -- Leabhar Normain Moore (19th-century armorial bookplate).
EDITIO PRINCEPS. Compiled at the end of the 10th century, the Suda (known under the personal name of "Suidas") was a "Byzantine amalgam of dictionary and encyclopaedia which despite its bulk was often recopied because of its proven value to students of the classics" (Wilson, From Byzantium to Italy, p. 38). The compilation was made from earlier Greek lexica, notably that of the 5th-century lexicographer Hesychius; texts with scholia of Homer, Aristophanes, Sophocles, and the Palatine Anthology; and earlier excerpts from ancient grammarians and historians.
The editor and publisher Demetrios Chalcondylas of Athens, professor of Greek at Padua, Florence, and Milan, edited Homer and Isocrates before tackling the ambitious project of the Suda. The unusual advertisement by Stefano Neri on the first page, a Greek dialogue in which a bookseller urges a potential buyer not to be deterred by the price of 3 gold ducats, may have been inserted by Chalcondylas as a precaution in light of the notorious failure of his 1493 Isocrates (Goff I-210). The Suda fared better, probably filling a greater need. Chalcondylas completed the immense task conscientiously: he states that he collated several manuscripts, and inserted a number of words not included in the original text.
The publishing history of the edition--the largest Greek book printed in the 15th century--is well documented. On 27 February 1499, Chalcondylas and the scholar-printer Alexander Minutianus contracted with the printers Bissolus and Mangius for its production. In a second contract, dated 13 April, when the printing had already commenced, Minutianus was replaced by Joannes Maria Cataneus and Antonius Motta. Sale of the book was entrusted to Joannes Angelus Scinzenzeler and Joannes de Romano.
This was the only book printed at Milan by Giovanni Bissoli and Benedetto Dolcibelli, both natives of Carpi. As part of a syndicate, hoping to undercut Aldus Manutius (possibly their former employer), they had produced two Greek books in Venice in 1498 (Goff A-97 and P-545), but were driven out of the city, Aldus having obtained an injunction against the use of rival Greek type on Venetian territory. The two were apparently unable to bring with them all of their punches, and had to make numerous alterations to their fount for the Suda, the printing of which was carried out in less than nine months, using at least two presses, a most impressive achievement. Neri's dialogue is the only known use of their larger Greek fount. The dedicatee Alberto Pio, Prince of Carpi, later sponsored Dolcibelli in setting up the first press in his native town (cf. Fumagalli, Lexicon Typographicum Italiae, Florence 1905, pp. 66-67).
This copy contains the first state of sheet ZZ1.8, with the four misprints in Salandus' Latin verses on ZZ8r uncorrected, and two contracted words on the same page, omitted by the compositor, stamped with type in the margin with a manuscript insertion mark indicating their proper place in the text.
HC 15135*; BMC VI, 792 (IC. 26913-15); CIBN S-495; Harvard/Walsh 3163-65; IGI 9189; Pr 6077; Proctor The Printing of Greek in the Fifteenth Century, pp. 112-114, 117; Goff S-829.