HOMER (?8th century B.C.). Opera, in Greek. Edited by Demetrius Chalcondylas (1423-1511). Florence: [Printer of Virgil (C 6061), perhaps Bartolommeo di Libri, and] Demetrius Damilas for Bernardus and Nerius Nerlius (with financial support of Giovanni Acciaiuoli), 9 December 1488 [but not published before 13 January 1488/89, date of the dedication].
2 volumes, median 2o (304 x 201 mm). Collation: (Vol. I) A-D8 E10 (A1r Bernardo Nerli's dedicatory letter to Piero de' Medici in Latin, A1v editor's preface in Greek, A3r Herodotus' life of Homer, B1r Plutarch's life of Homer, E7v Dio Cassius' oration on Homer, E9v-10 blank); A-Z8 ET8 8 8 (Iliad). (Vol. II) AA-ZZ8 ETET6 (AA1r Odyssey, XX2r Batrachomyomachia, XX6r Hymns to Apollo, ETET5v colophon in Greek, ETET6 blank). 250, 189 (of 190, without final blank) leaves. The texts of pages O2v and O7r were mistakenly reversed in imposition; a contemporary reader has added a guide to the correct order of the text. 39 lines. Types: 121Gk (text, recast by Damilas on a larger body, with the addition of a few sorts, from the same matrices as Paravisinus type 1:117Gk), 96R (dedication, Di Libri type 1), 110r (signatures, Printer of Benignus, type 1). 2- and 10-line initial spaces. (Device to hold the sheets for washing has left a mark on most quires.) Early 18th-century English red turkey gilt, triple fillet border around sides with corner ornament, central lozenge composed of small tools, including stars, vases and pointillé flowers, marbled endpapers, gilt edges (scuffed).
Provenance: contemporary annotations in Greek (now very faint) -- Charles Spencer, third Earl of Sunderland (1674-1722): binding, shelfmark -- Baron Horace de Landau (1824-1903): bookplate; sale, Sotheby's London, 12 July 1948, lot 57 -- Albert Ehrman (1890-1969), Broxbourne Library: monogram at end, bookplate; sale Sotheby's London, 14 November 1977, lot 166 (to Lathrop Harper).
EDITIO PRINCEPS of all texts, with the exception of the Batrachomyomachia, which was printed earlier in a Greek-Latin edition. THE FLORENCE HOMER IS THE MOST IMPORTANT FIRST EDITION IN GREEK LITERATURE. Its editor, Chalcondylas, had enjoyed the patronage of the humanist Cardinal Bessarion at Rome before arriving in Florence in 1475. He was considered by Aldus Manutius the leading scholar of his day, and counted among his pupils Thomas Linacre, Pico, Politian, and the future pope Leo X. A fresco in Santa Maria Novella in Florence by Ghirlandaio pictures him, together with Ficino, Landino and Politian. In preparing his text Chalcondylas consulted Eustathius' monumental 12th-century commentary, which enabled him to clarify uncertain readings in the Iliad and the Odyssey, but he warns in his preface that the texts of the Hymns and of the Batrachomyomachia still leave much to be desired.
Earlier castings of the Homer type, whose design may have been modelled on Michael Apostolis' script (see N. Barker, Greek Script & Type, pp. 28-31), had been used by Damilas and Paravisinus for Lascaris' Erotemata (Milan 1476), the first book printed entirely in Greek, and by Bonus Accursius for his first editions of Aesop and Crastonus. Damilas took the matrices and perhaps the punches with him to Florence, where he recast the type for the Homer, adding several new sorts; it was subsequently used in only three other works. (Cf. Proctor, The Printing of Greek in the 15th Century, pp. 66-69, and R. Ridolfi, La Stampa in Firenze nel secolo XV, chapter 7.)
HCR 8772; BMC VI, 678 (IB. 27657); CIBN H-173; IGI 4795; Flodr, Homerus I; Harvard/Walsh 2990-2991; PMM 31; Goff H-300. (2)