With Five Impressive Woodcut Plates

Herodotus. Herodoti Halicarnassei Historiarum lib. ix, ix Musarum nominibus inscripti. Eiusdem Narratio de vita Homeri. Cum Vallæ interpret. Latina historiarum Herodoti, ab Henr. Stephano recognita. Item cum iconibus structurarum ab Herodoto descriptarum. Ctesiæ quædam de reb. Pers. and Ind. Edition secunda.

[Geneva:] Excudebat Henricus Stephanus [Henri Estienne], Anno m.d.xcii. [1592]. 362 x 230 mm (14¼ x 9 in). Folio. [48], 731, [25] pp., [4] folded ll. of  plates (set in as 5 plates – see below). In Latin. Printer’s device on title page. Title page in red and black. Text in Greek and Latin, printed in double columns.

Bound in full vellum, blind tooling on both covers, with large decorative stamp in the center. Manuscript spine title at head of spine in clear lettering. Greek epigram on front free endpaper. Notation in old hand on back endpaper stating (in Latin) that Herodotus lived to the age of 53. 

Exterior good: Hinges on front cover cracked but holding; sewing supports just showing; vellum at foot of front board cracked about 11.5 cm. Boards rubbed and a little soiled; various small worm holes on front cover. Interior overall very good although the title page is lightly soiled and there is some marginal old water staining (not affecting text); with all plates present and the plates in very good plus to near fine condition. This is a variant copy: the woodcut of the bridge of Babylon and the Semiramis are on two different pieces of paper, making it appear as five plates and not the usual four. 

Father of history. A lovely second humanist edition of Herodotus’ Histories”. It was corrected and expanded after the first one by Henri II Estienne (1531–1598), published in 1566 (folio of 256), who had corrected the text of the Latin translation by Lorenzo Valla (1407–1457) based on the Greek original (Venice 1474). Unlike the 1566 edition, this edition is bilingual, in Greek and Latin, with the text printed in two columns.

The book contains, in addition to the text by the Father of History”, as Cicero called him: Ex Ioachimi Camerarii proemio in historias Herodoti”, as well as excerpts by Xenophon, Plutarch, Strabo, Ctesias (on Persia and India), and, [“The Life of Homer”], which is the work of the German humanist Conrad Heresbach.

Herodotus’s Histories is clearly the centerpiece of the edition (pp. 1–635), but the focus of the ancillary material very much highlights 16th-century interest in the East, for example De Persarum legibus and institutis ex diuersis historicis” [“About Persian laws and institutions from diverse historians”] (pp. 698–723). The nine books of Herodotus Histories, covers the time period 650–479 BCE, and focus on what led up to the great wars between the Persian Empire and the Greeks in the early 5th century.

Printed by Henri Estienne. Beautifully printed, title page in red and black with the mark of Henri Estienne, historiated initials and cul-de-lampe. Henri Estienne’s (1528 [or 1531]–1598) fame stems from his immense work as an editor and commentator of ancient texts, in particular, of Greek works and language, as demonstrated by the Traité de la conformité du langage françois avec le grec (1565) and the monumental work of a lifetime, the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (1572). 

With all plates present. This copy with five folding plates representing plans of Babylon, the bridge of Babylon and the citadel of Semiramis, the Suspended Gardens of Semiramis (i.e. the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, one of the seven wonders of the world), and the Tower of Babel. These plates are often lacking, but form an integral part of the book, since they are called for in the title [“…with the icons of the structures described”]. 

OCLC WorldCat reports eight u.s. libraries holding copies (1154825575, 51082688, 364746753, 20471359, and 79422136).

USTC 451331


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Stock Code: 1136B16 Collection: Catalogue:


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