7 July 2004
VALERIUS MAXIMUS (fl. 14-31 A.D.). Dictorum factorumq[ue] memorabilum exempla. Lyons: Sebastian Gryphius, 1556.
8° (164 x 105mm). Woodcut publisher's device on title and verso of final leaf, woodcut historiated initials at book openings. (Some browning of page edges.)
BINDING: later 16th-century calf, line borders in blind, gilt fleurons at inner corners, frotn cover with gilt stamp of Fortune with her sail, lower cover with arabesque stamp, spine with raised bands and repeated vase-and-spray ornament (gilt faded, upper cover detached, spine damaged and repaired, endpapers renewed); modern cloth box.
PROVENANCE: occasional marginalia in a contemporary hand.
One of the commonest emblems used by Renaissance binders, Fortune was frequently depiced as a female deity holding a sail, often on the back of a dolphin, though here she stands on a form of winged globe. Another unusual detail is the coastline with houses visible in the background. 'She was no longer the supreme goddess venerated in late antiquity and represented in art with one hand on a rudder and the other arm cradling a cornucopia; nor was she the capricious divinity of the Middle Ages, turning a wheel which carried some people upwards to riches and honour and others down to poverty and disgrace. The sixteenth century saw her as Occasio, opportunity, whom the bold man could seize by the forelock as she was blown past like a boat scudding before the wind' (A. Hobson, Humanists and Bookbinders, p. 163). Adams V-112.
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