Incunabula and the Keio University Library Collection


Apicius, De re coquinaria (Venice: Bernardinus Venetus, de Vitalibus, [1498-1500], also recorded as [after 1500])

De re coquinaria. Add: Suetonius: De grammaticis et rhetoribus

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The authorship of this book is attributed to Apicius, the famous aristocrat and gourmet of Imperial Rome; however, there are no detailed documents recording his life, and little is known about him. It is generally accepted that he was active between 80 BCE and 40 CE (i.e. during the reigns of Augustus and Tiberius), and that his full name was Marcus Gabius Apicius, although some scholars think that he was active during the reign of Sula, around the 1st century BCE.

The name 'Apicius' often appears in connection with dietary information in contemporary or near contemporary writings. For instance, in his Deipnosophistae (The Deipnosophists) – a compilation of numerous works on food, drink, manners and customs of the time – Athenios mentions Apicius several times, stating, for example, that a number of sweets were named after him. The Roman historian Tacitus, on the other hand, criticized Apicius harshly, stating that he was a prodigal man of wealth. In his Epistles, Seneca refers to an episode in which Apicius spent all his fortune on epicureanism, landing himself in debt; he goes on to say that Apicius committed suicide for fear of dying of hunger. It would thus appear that the epicurean Apicius pursued a dissipated life to the end.

Although Apicius is noted as the author of De re coquinaria, he was probably not the sole author; talented cooks came to be given the generic name 'Apicius', and this book was only compiled in the 4th century. Recipes originally devised by Apicius were changed and improved over the years, and a number of later cookery books bear his name. Apicius's recipes reflect the extravagancy of cuisine in ancient Rome, and this collection was reproduced in both manuscripts and printed books.

The Keio copy is a reprint of the first edition of Apicius's cookery book, published in Milan in 1498. The colophon does not carry the publication date; the BMC considers it to have been published in Venice around 1500 (BMC, V, 550). Several pretty woodcut initials are used throughout the book.

  Apicius, Cookery and Dining in Imperial Rome: A Bibliography, Critical Review and Translation of the Ancient Book Known as 'Apicius de re Coquinaria', trans. into English and ed. by Joseph Dommers Vehling, with introd. by Frederick Starr (Chicago, IL: Walter M. Hill, 1936; repr. New York: Dover, 1977)
  アピキウス『古代ローマの調理ノート』千石玲子 訳 (東京: 小学館, 1997)
  上田和子『おいしい古代ローマ物語—アピキウスの料理帖』 (東京: 原書房, 2001)



Place of Publication
Bernardinus Venetus, de Vitalibus


Date of Publication
[1498-1500]; [after 1500]

Modern antique style brown morocco, blind tooled with two double thonged, raised bands.

Bibliographical Notes

40 leaves.

Goff A922, H 1281*, C 5671, BMC V 550 (Apicius only), GW 2268, IJL 021, IJL2 027
Acquisition Year