1540 P. Virgilii Maronis Opera. Virgil - Eclogues, Georgics, Aeneid etc.. Estienne, Paris


A "pocket edition", 1540 printing, of Robert Estienne's highly-regarded text of Virgil's works (which Estienne edited and first appeared in 1532, as a folio).

This copy has been richly annotated by someone that added (to the Eclogues, Georgics and Aeneid) Latin and Greek notes which reference other copies/translations of Virgil, other ancient writers and important renaissance era commentaries on Virgil. In addition, the annotator added the verse numbers to the Eclogues, Aeneid and Georgics.

About Estienne's Virgil -

In 1531 Robert Estienne produced a thesaurus of the Latin language, which is considered foundational to modern Latin lexicography. His talents extended to the Latin classics, which he would edit with his knowledge of the language and access to manuscripts. His 1532 edition of Virgil is known as one of his best productions; in an understated opinion, Encyclopedia Britannica states, "Robert also printed numerous editions of Latin classics, of which perhaps the folio Virgil of 1532 is the most noteworthy."

Elizabeth Armstrong, author of Robert Estienne, Royal Printer, notes that the octavo editions of 1533, 1537, 1540 and 1549, "are simply reputable cheap reprints of the text".

"Cheap" implying that it wasn't made in the same sumptuous vein as the commentated folio, the octavos often having an intended student (or etc.) audience.

About Virgil -

"Publius Vergilius Maro (70 –19 BC), usually called Virgil or Vergil in English, was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period. He composed three of the most famous poems in Latin literature: the Eclogues (or Bucolics), the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid." - Wikipedia

About the Provenance -

Due to the scholarly and voluminous nature of the annotations, I couldn't help but wonder if the writer was a known scholar of Virgil. The note maker appears to have signed a number of pages, but I could not find a corresponding printed author (regarding Virgil); the name that appears resembles "Hernu"; there is an "H.A." in ink, on the top-edge of the text block that also indicates that the name of the previous owner started with an "H".

Bibliographic Details -

Universal Short Title Catalogue number 147861; scarce, with 3 copies recorded (Bodleian, Christ Church Library and John Hopkins University).

The Worldcat entry (reference 181701396) adds only four more copies (Stanford, Brigham Young, Columbia U. of NY, and University of Glasgow).

Physical Attributes -

Measures approx. 17 x 11 x 3.5 cm, octavo. Calf boards with inner and outer blind triple fillet frames, gilt corner florets for the inner frame, and a central gilt floret medallion.

Spine was repaired with parchment, and manuscript title (and library label), in an old hand, on spine. Top edge with ownership initials of previous owner. Title page with Robert Estienne's Noli Altum Sapere printer's mark.

Pages - 527, [1]

Collation - A-Z8, AA-KK8

Condition -

See pictures. Very worn and used. Old repair to spine with vellum. "L.A.H." scraped into front cover, oddly "L.H.A." on rear. "H.A." written in ink on top-edge. Some writing, scrapes, etc. on boards. A little damage to head of vellum spine, and a library ticket. Front endpaper replaced, covering over some notes that can be seen through the new paper.

Many handwritten notes from verso of flyleaf through to the end of the book. Richly annotated by someone conducting copious research. Title page with one tear at the gutter, no text affected, and bottom corner missing. First 150 pages proud at fore-edge. Pages toned throughout with occasional ink mark, dog-eared page, page edge chip, etc. Notes, underlining, strikethroughs, ink spots, numbering of verses, etc. throughout (but only in the Eclogues, Georgics and the Aeneid, and the last leaf). No rear free endpaper; pastedown ends at gutter.

Still, delightful to see the notes of a true scholar, referencing (in Greek and Latin) ancient works and important commentaries.

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