Incunabula and the Keio University Library Collection
Aristoteles [Aristotle], Opera [Latin] (Venice: Johannes and Gregorius de Gregoriis, de Forlivio, for Benedictus Fontana, 13 July 1496)
This incunabulum contains the Latin translation of Aristotle's Greek works by Leonardo Aretino Bruni. This volume is bound between bare wood-panels, with its spine covered in leather. The binding is early, rather than a modern one. On the front cover the title of the volume reads: Philosophia moralis et metaphisica Aristotelis.
Leonardo Bruni (1369-1444) was a famous Humanist during the Italian Renaissance. He is known as the first person to have used the phrase studia humanitas, which is the origin of the terms Humanism/humanities. It was as part of his Humanist project that he read Aristotle and Plato in the original Greek and translated them into Latin.
The main works included in this volume are 1) the Metaphysics (Libri metaphisice), 2) the Nichomachean Ethics (Libri ethicorum), 3) the Eudemian Ethics, translated by Bruni (Liber Aristotelis de moribus ad eudemium discipulum), 4) the Politics (libri politicorum), 5) the EconomicsI (the first book), translated by Bruni, and 6) the Aristotelis magnorum aethicorum libri (in part), translated by Gregorius Valla (1430-99). Fragments of the De sophisticis elenchis are also included.
The folio numbering of this volume is extremely confused. The first work, the Metaphysics, is found between folio numbers 63 and 118. Folios 119 to 170 appear to be missing. The second work, the Nichomachean Ethics, begins at folio number 171, continuing to 199 and beyond; however, the leaves that follow 199, which belong to a different quire, are numbered from 100 onwards. The Ethics ends with folio number 122. The catchword on the verso of folio 199 corresponds with the first word on the recto of the next folio, 100, and there is no confusion within the text of the Ethics itself. The next work, the Eudemian Ethics, can be found on the inserted leaves, numbered from 123 to 127. The confusion in the foliation was presumably caused by a mistake made at the time of casting-off, which meant that the second half of the book starts at folio 100 when it should have been 200.
Folio 127 are then followed by fol. 259. The recto of this folio contains the last page of the De sophisticis elenchis (it is called Elenchorum Aristoteli in this volume). The rest of the work is missing from this volume. On the verso of fol. 259 begins the Politics, which continues to 313. The first book of the Economics follows on from this, on the inserted leaves numbered 314 to 316. Leaves 317 to 385 are missing. These problems seem to be down to the binding-up of an incomplete copy in a confused sequence.
The last work in this volume, the Aesthetics, translated by Valla, is found on leaves 386 to 403. There are marginal notes throughout the book by more than two different hands.
Giovanni de Gregori and Gregorio de Gregori (Johannes Gregori and Gregorius Gregori), two brothers from Forli (Forlivium), were printers based in Venice. During the period between 1495 and 1497, Venice was the city where the foremost printers in Europe tended to congregate; among the more prominent were Boneto Locatello, Battista Torti, Simone Bevilacqua, Giovanni Tacuino, Aldus Manutius, Andrea Torresani (father-in-law of Aldus), and Filippo Pinzi, along with the Gregori brothers, who ran one of the major workshops in Venice, and published the first book in Europe to contain Arabic script in print.
The present writer is grateful to John Goldfinch for his valuable comments on the condition of the incunabulum.
- Aristoteles [Aristotle]
- Place of Publication
- Johannes and Gregorius de Gregoriis, de Forlivio, for Benedictus Fontana
- Date of Publication
Contemporary Italian calf-backed wooden boards, spine with blind-tooled diapered design and floral tools, two leather and embossed brass clasps (lacking two), foot of spine renewed.
- Bibliographical Notes
189 of 508 leaves; a number of woodcut initials throughout; running titles; printer's device on 2Q6r; some contemporary marginalia.
- Goff A966, HC 1659*, BMC V 349, GW 2341, IJL 026, IJL2 033, PP102
- Acquisition Year
1. Pillone Library. 2. Sir Thomas Brooke, Armitage Bridge House. 3. Pierre Berès.