Title: Vitae illustrium virorum
Publisher: Giovanni Ragazzo, for Lucantonio Giunta, Venice
Publication Date: 1491
Book Condition: Good
Edition: First Ragazza-Giunta Edition.
Two parts in one volume, chancery folio (305 x 210mm). Part I: , CXLV ; Part II: CXXXVI  (of 144) leaves; imperfect, lacks the last 8 leaves (lives of Aristotle by Leonardo Bruni, Homer attributed to Plutarch, and Charlemagne by Donato Acciaiuoli). Latin translation by Lapo Birago, Francesco Filelfo, et. al. 63 lines and head-lines. Signatures: a-r8; s10; A-R8 (lacking quire S8 and final blank). Contents: a1r: half title, a1v: table of contents, a2r: woodcut illustration & part one THESEI VITA PER LAPVM FLORENTINVM VERSA, s10v: register, A1: woodcut initial & part two CYMONIS VITA PER LEONARDVM IVSTINIANVM VERSA. Part I, a2r with animated architectural border and half-page woodcut illustration of Theseus and the Minotaur battling within wattle fence with Ariadne and her ladies looking on. Part II, A1r with major woodcut initial P depicting Cimon on horseback and in prison. 7- and 6-line publishers woodcut initials throughout. Contemporary limp vellum, likely a later reused binding explaining the end loss and some shaved margins but contemporary marginalia mostly intact; (spine lightly darkened; marginal soiling on opening leaves, leaves of first gathering rehinged, title restored in blank outer margin, slight worming in hinge at second part, some cancelled ownership inscriptions and extra illustrations to heraldry on the woodcut pages, overall good). First Ragazzo-Giunta edition, but fourth edition in Latin, the first Latin Plutarch’s Lives appeared in 1471. Plutarch’s Lives supported fifteenth century inquest of classical culture, but its publication was also important for placing the figures in their political and ideological contexts – mainly in order to promote its learning purpose. It has been said that a number of the most popular Latin versions had been produced for the advocates of the Florentine republic. In fact, according to Marianne Pade in her work The Reception of Plutarch’s "Lives" in fifteenth-century Italy" (2007), a center for study of the Lives was established in Venice. Guarino had opened a school, which was the home of famous students, Francesco Barbaro and Leonardo Giustinian (both of whom produced their own Latin versions of the Lives) (p. 345). As well, Guarino and Fileflo (this editor) were both major humanist figures in their maturity and knew each other through connections in Venetian patrician society. This volume is enhanced by the extensive annotations in an early Latin hand. Quite readable, the marks are mostly recording names of historical persons like "Hannibal," "Cicero," and "Scipio," persons who are also contained in the Plutarch biographies, along with other underlining and scattered notes. Conceiving of this "see" reference system in the margins was no small feat as it was accomplished cover-to-cover; it is clear that this was the effort of knowledgeable Lives reader. There are at least three non-cancelled ownership inscriptions, one dated 1650 on the title with only the monogram "D.M." and the others are in Italian possibly "Marinelli" and "Materasi," with one dated 1808. As this volume was in Italy until at least the beginning of the nineteenth century, it is likely that this specific copy was somehow connected to the focused study of the text in Venice. If not tied to a specific editor at the school, this copy echoes their contemporary humanist student notions and probably enjoyed use in Venice for several centuries. ISTC#: ip00833000. Bookseller Inventory # D11896
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