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De bello Peloponnesiaco. [Translated by Laurentius Valla. Edited by Bartholomaeus Partenius.].
[Treviso: Joannes Rubeus Vercellensis, 1483 ?].

Folio (302x206 mm), [135] leaves of 136, without the first blank; Roman Type: 82R, 46 lines, capital spaces with painted initials in red and blue. A few repaired wormholes at the beginning and at the end, some browning in the white margin of some pages. A very good and tall copy in XVIII century Italian stiff vellum, manuscript title on spine.

Rare editio princeps of Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War. This is the only 15th century edition and the first edition of the Greek text was printed by Aldus Manutius only in 1502. “Laurentius Valla translation of Thucydides was commissioned by the humanist Pope Nicholas V (1447-55) to whom it is dedicated. In the dedication Valla mentions that it was Cardinal Bessarion who suggested to the Pope that he commission the Latin Thucydides from Valla. This translation formed part of the Pope’s impressive project to have all Greek literature translated into Latin. Valla was ready to begin the translation in the spring of 1448, as he explains in a letter to Niccolò Perotti. By October he had translated book 1 and part of book 2 and the translation was finished only in 1452 according to the autograph postscript of Vatican City, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana Vat Lat 1801, where Valla claims to have revised the copy and sanctions it as the archetypus of his translation. From references in his earlier works we know that Valla had been acquainted with Thucydides for many years. However, as he confessed in a letter to Giovanni Tortelli and in the dedication to Pope Nicholas V, the difficulties of Thucydides’ text, particularly the orations, caused him significant problems, and of his friends in Rome, Valla would have liked especially to consult the Greek-born Cardinal Bessarion and as well as Tortelli himself who was a well-known Greek scholar, but none was in the city to help him. Immediately after completion, Valla’s translation enjoyed a wide manuscript diffusion that continued into the sixteenth century. There are also numerous printed editions; the first appeared in Treviso circa 1483, and the last edition of his rendering, albeit in a version revised several times, was published at Paris in 1840 and reprinted at least four times. All the printed editions contain in fact some kind of revision of Valla’s text. Bartholomaeus Parthenius, editor of the editio princeps stated that the manuscript copy or copies to which he had access were so corrupt that he had used a Greek manuscript to assist him in determining the Latin text of the translation. Nonetheless, Parthenius claims to have rendered Valla’s text fully and accurately. Subsequent editors based their work on the earlier editions and would also claim, almost invariably, to have corrected the text of the translation against Greek manuscripts. Though numerous, all these interventions are minor, and the text of Valla’s translation remained substantially the same; only Thomas Naogeorgus (his revision of Valla’s text, prepared for publication in 1561 by the printer Johannes Oporinus, but this edition never appeared); Henricus Stephanus and Franciscus Portus revised the existing text so thoroughly that it is justifiable to treat the result as a new version or new translation.” (Adapted from: Marianne Pade, Thucydides in Catalogus translatiorum et commentariorum ..., CUA Press, Washington, 2003).

IGI 9641; BMC VI 896; Hain-C. 15511.

Price: 28 000.00 EUR