1636 Thesaurus Arabico-Syro-Latinus, Tommaso Obicini. 1st edition. Rome


The first printed edition of Tommaso Obicini's Arabico-Syro-Latinus (Arabic-Syriac-Latin) Thesaurus, based on the 11th century Syriac-Arabic dictionary, The Book of the Interpreter, of Elijah of Nisibis (an Assyrian cleric, Bishop of Beth Nuhadra).

About the Author -

Thomas Obicini of Novara (1585 –1632) was an Italian Franciscan friar, originally from Novara. As an early orientalist, Arabist and linguist, he translated Arabic texts into Latin and took possession of the Grotto of Nazareth for the Franciscan order in 1620. In 1620 Fra Obicini's travelled to Jerusalem to the Emir of Beirut, Fakhr ad-Din II.

In Beirut, Obicini was, according to his account, warmly and lavishly received by the emir ad-Din, who had readily granted the two Christian holy sites, the Grotto of the Annunciation, i.e. the Grotto of Nazareth, and Mount Tabor to his Franciscan order.

While Obicini was abbot in the convent of Aleppo, Syria he had mastered Syriac, Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Coptic languages. In 1621, he was the first lector in Arabic in the San Pietro in Montorio convent and was a precursor of Athanasius Kircher.

About the Printer -

Printed by the Propoganda Fide, established in 1622 (by Pope Gregory XV) for the purpose of polyglot printing (a 1631 decree forbade the printing of books in foreign languages unless they were accompanied by a Latin or Italian translation).

About the Provenance -

This is a curious copy, with a "dono" (gift) inscription on the front flyleaf, mentioning an "authore", but what it's referring to I can't describe because Obicini had passed away before the printing of this book (the preface of Achilles Venerius states this). Perhaps an editor, or etc. gifted this work.

The work resided in the National Library (Vittorio Emanuele Roma) of Italy, before being discarded as a duplicate (stamp at rear printed leaf and ticket at bottom of spine).

Bibliographic Details -

Universal Short Title Catalogue reference number - 4014344. Only one recorded North American copy (Illinois University Library).

OPAC SBN - VEAE 003127

Physical Attributes -

Measures approx. 17.5 x 11.5 x 3 cm, Octavo. Vellum binding; title on spine in an old hand.

Opens right to left, as Eastern books.

Pages - viii, 433, [24 leaves of index, etc.]

Collation - 4 unsigned leaves, A-Z8, Aa-D8, all 8 leaves of Ee present but I believe they are bound out-of-order, Ff8, Gg8 - last two leaves of Gg are blank, as noted by USTC.

Condition -

See pictures. Protected by folding paper case. Ex libris, with all associated stamps, sticker tickets (at base of spine and rear pastedown), etc. Some soiling to vellum binding; graphite note on rear board. Some loss to manuscript titling on spine. Gift inscription on front flyleaf and shelfmark.

Text block divorced from front hinge, presumably to see if there was an important work used for binding. Stamp of the library of Rome at title page. 1st signature a little shaken because there is no connection to binding. Toning, foxing, etc. throughout. Occasional ink marks and annotations. Intermittent darker toning throughout. Occasional dog-eared page. Two library stamps on second to last printed leaf. Rear pastedown with some damage.

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