ARISTOTELES (384-322 BCE). Opera, in Greek. With works by Galen, Theophrastus, Philo Judaeus, Alexander Aphrodisiensis, and other authors. Edited by Aldus Manutius, Thomas Linacre, Justin Decadyos, Gabriel Bracius, Niccolò Leoniceno, and others. Venice: Aldus Manutius, 1 November 1495-June 1498.

The Pembroke copy of the editio princeps of the works of Aristotle, the most important Greek printing project of the 15th century. “The complete works of Aristotle, printed by Aldus between November 1495 and June 1498, would have secured Aldus’s fame as a printer had he printed nothing else. The entire publication, issued separately but often bound in five or six volumes, represented more leaves of Greek type than had cumulatively been printed since the time of Gutenberg” (Clemons and Fletcher). The Aldine edition restored to posterity the polymathic works of Aristotle in their original language—and the scientists and philosophers of the next several centuries would make their reputations by either expanding on or disproving their contents. The project was an international tour-de-force, employing agents to search throughout Europe for manuscripts and gathering Greek scholars from across the continent (and England) to edit them. In the words of Aldus from the preface, "humanity may at last, after six hundred years and more of a diet of acorns, feed on fruits."

This is a handsome set, bound in red morocco for Thomas Herbert, 8th Earl of Pembroke, whose library was especially notable for its incunabula "selected with great judgment" (De Ricci, English Collectors, p. 40). On the blank space on the final pages of vol. 3, continuing on several additional leaves, someone has copied out in very neat Greek handwriting the fragment of Pseudo-Aristotle's Περὶ θαυμασίων ἀκουσμάτων (De mirabilibus auscultationibus) discovered by Henri Estienne and printed in 1557. This is followed by a Latin translation of the same text in a later hand, and a note explaining that Pembroke had persuaded his friend and advisor, the Classical scholar Michael Maittaire, to translate the fragment into Latin. Intriguingly, the printed text of the work to which the fragment belongs bears here considerable early marginalia and corrections in Greek. This copy reflects Aldus's characteristic attention to detail, including the cancel strip hand-pasted onto kk10v and the additional final gathering which prints the new fragments of De animalibus that didn't get to the printer in time to make it into their rightful place in the text (both in vol. 3). HC *1657; GW 2334; BSB-Ink A-698; Bod-inc A-384; PMM 38; Goff A-858; UCLA 4, 23, 21, 11, 24; ISTC ia00959000; Clemons and Fletcher 11 (vol. 4 only).

Five volumes, super-chancery folio (301 x 200mm). COMPLETE but for one blank leaf. 234 leaves [of 234] + 300 leaves [of 300] + 466 leaves [of 467, without blank XX8] + 519 leaves [of 519] + 330 leaves [of 330]. Numerous woodcut floral and interlace headpieces and Greek initials, woodcut diagram, cancel-strip on III:kk10v pasted in, neat manuscript paginations and Greek running headlines to vol. 1 [other vols bear printed headlines] (some dust-soiling/toning to first and last leaves, light marginal staining at ends and very occasionally internally; occasional marginal wormholes chiefly to foot of gutter, a short closed tear just touching text on one leaf in vol 4, vol 5 title possibly supplied, it is faintly ruled in red and with a small corner wormhole). Early 18th-century English red morocco gilt with title pieces, all edges gilt (scuffed, spines sunned and dry with joints started, labels of vols 2 and 3 swapped, flyleaf of vol. 4 detached and laid in). Provenance: early marginalia in Greek and Latin (faint) – 18th-century Latin and English marginalia and notes – Thomas Herbert, 8th Earl of Pembroke (c.1656-1733, noted patron and bibliophile; shelf marks "Kr7" to "Kr11" on versos of front free endpapers, Pembroke binding, and notes; his sale, Sotheby's, 25 June 1914, lot 10, £81 to Maggs).
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