Plutarch’s Best-Known Work

Plutarch. Le vite di Plutarcho, vulgare, novamente impress, et historiate.

Venetia [Venice]: per Georgio de Rusconi and Nicolo Zopino e Vicenzo compagni, nel m.d.xviii. adi. ii. Marzo. [1518 March 2]. 211 x 160 mm (8 x 6 ¼ in). Quarto. cccxxvi ll. In Italian. First volume. Title within a decorative woodcut border and with an illustrated woodcut vignette. One woodcut illustration at the start of each biography, 26 total.

Bound in quarter vellum over patterned paste paper covered boards (19th century). 

USTC 849961

EDIT16 30068

Bound with:— Plutarch. La seconda [et] ultima parte delle vite di Plutarcho di greco in latino et di latino in volgare novamente tradotte et historiate. Item sub pena excom[m]unicationis late seutentie como nel breve appare. 

Vinegia [Venice]: per Nicolao di Aristotile detto Zoppino regnante l’inclyto principe Andrea Gritti nel anno di nostra salute, mdxxv di mese di Martio [1525 March]. 214 x 160 mm (8 x 6 ¼ in). ccxv, [1], [16] ll. In Italian. Second volume. Woodcut illustrations; there are supposed to be 28 total, but this copy is lacking the first one. Woodcut vignette of St. Nicholas sitting in an episcopal chair wearing a miter, his right hand is raised and in the other is cradled a crosier and the three golden balls on a book.

Bound in quarter vellum over patterned paste paper covered boards (19th century).

Lacking three leaves: a2, a3, and a7; leaf a6 repaired at foot with partial loss to four lines of text; two leaves with tears: a4 and a5 with no loss. Lower outer corner of title page repaired. This second volume has the blank and final 16 leaves following the leaf with colophon. This is an added life, of Marco Bruto, often lacking in this set. 

USTC 849979

EDIT16 74888

Both volumes very good. Light worm damage to spines, light soiling to covers, and edges lightly bumped. Some light water stains to interior, but overall the pages are crisp and clean. 

Plutarch (ca. ad 46 – ad 119) was a Greek Platonist philosopher, essayist, and priest at the Temple of Apollo in Delphi who later in life became a Roman citizen. This is an early Italian translation of Plutarch’s best-known work: Lives” or Parallel Lives” with a fine series of woodcuts. One woodcut for each Life”. It is a series of biographies of famous men, arranged in pairs to illuminate their common moral virtues and failings and was likely first written at the beginning of the second century ad. 

Although Plutarch’s interest was primarily ethical, the work serves as a significant historical record. For example, the description of the Life of Alexander, is only one of five secondary or tertiary sources on the conqueror Alexander the Great. It includes anecdotes and descriptions of events that are not in any other source. Similarly, the Life of Ceasar is one of only a handful of accounts we have of Julius Caesar’s feats by an ancient historian. Caesar’s assassination is described in great detail, including the later fate of his murderers. 

These two volumes are often found separately, printed 7 years apart. Our set is bound in matching 19th century vellum over patterned paste boards. 

Two other copies currently on the market. One for $3,300 and another for $4,000. Alas, the second volume of our copy is missing three leaves, and thus priced accordingly.


In stock

Stock Code: 1144B16 Collection: Catalogue:


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