ANTHOLOGIA PLANUDEA. Florilegium diversorum epigrammatum in septem libros.

Venice, in aedibus Aldi., November 1503

Octavo (156 x 92 mm.), 290 unnumbered leaves. First two pages a little dust soiled, title page with an old restoration and with a collector's signature, head of spine restored, overall a fine copy in XVIII century mottled calf, spine in comparments richly gilt with red lettering piece.First of three Aldine editions of the Planudean Anthology, the only by Aldus the Elder (the others being that of 1521 and 1551), defined by Renouard “the most beautiful for the paper and the impression, and also the rarest one”.Aldus realized it ten years after the Florentine editio princeps, given by the famous Byzantine humanist Janus Lascaris in 1494 under the title of Anthologia Graeca. Renouard held in his hands the copy of the Lascaris' edition annotated in Greek and Latin by Aldus himself, which served as the typographic basis for the 1503 edition, and, later on, for the 1521 one. Having decided to follow Lascaris' text, Aldus assembled in the last pages of the seventh book the textual variants recovered by other manuscripts, as well as 19 new epigrams and some other verses; moreover, he joined to the seventh book a short supplement, consisting of 2 other anonymous epigrams, a poem by the 6th century Greek poet Paul the Silentiary, and other minor works.The Planudean Anthology is a 13th century collection of Greek epigrams compiled by the Byzantine polymath Maximus Planudes, consisting of ca. 2,400 texts. It was based on the lost anthology realized in the 10th century by another Byzantine scholar, Constantine Cephalas, which also lay at the basis of a second collection, much more accurate and complete than the Planudean one (3,700 texts instead of 2,400), called the ‘Palatine Anthology'. While composing his collection, Cephalas drew chiefly from three older anthologies of widely different date: the Stephanus, or Wreath, of Meleager, collected in the beginning of the first century B.C. and consisting of works of at least forty-seven poets of the seventh to third and second centuries B.C.; the Stephanus of Philip of Thessalonika, dating from the first half of the first century A.D., designed as a supplement to Meleager's anthology and covering the intervening period; the Cycle of Agathias, made in the age of Justinian and comprising strictly contemporary works. Cephalas ordered his collection by distributing the poems of Meleager's, Philip's and Agathias' anthologies under headings by subject, all the erotic poems, all the dedicatory poems, etc., grouped together in separate books.Despite its minor quality, due to a high number of omissions and alterations of Cephalas' text, in many respects the collection of Planudes proved to be a fundamental testimony of classical tradition: first of all, it was the only known anthology of Greek epigrams and poems until 1606, when a richer manuscript was rediscovered in the Count's Palatine library in Heidelberg (hence, the name of ‘Palatine Anthology'); moreover, to it alone we owe the preservation of ca. 390 epigrams, which nowadays are included under the title of ‘Appendix Planudea' in the corpus of texts known as the Greek Anthology.References: Renouard, 42-43; W.E. Paton (ed.), The Greek Anthology, 1920; P. Jay (ed.), The Greek Anthology, 1973.


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