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PLATO (Code: )


PLATO ΠΛΑΤΩΝΟΣ ΑΠΑΝΤΑ ΤΑ ΣΩΖΟΜΕΝΑ. Platonis opera quae extant omnia. Ex nova Ioannis Serrani interpretatione, perpetuis eiusde notis illustrata: quibus & methodus & doctrinae summa breviter & perspique indicatur. Eiusdem Annotationes in quosdam sua illius interpretationis locos. Henr. Stephani de quorundam locorum interpretatione iudicium & multorum contextus Graeci emendatio. [Geneva]: Henri Estienne, 1578.

Three parts bound in two, first and last togheter second separate as often. Folio (381x233 mm). I: [18] leaves, 542 pages without the last blank; II: [4] leaves, 992 pages; III: [4] leaves, 416, 139 pages. Greek and Roman letter, double column, smaller printed side notes. Printer’s woodcut device within ornate surround on first title, woodcut ornaments on others, culs de lamp, large decorative initials and head and tail pieces throughout.Some browning and foxing in places, marginal restoration to first title and to pp 987-988, slight marginal dampstaining to first four leaves of the second volume, lacking the last blank in first volume. A very fine copy in XIX century red morocco, richly gilt, gilt edges, spines slightly faded, minor rubbing to joints, slip-cases.

A very good copy of the monumental edition published by Henry Estienne in Geneva – the place of publishing is omitted both in the title page and in the colophon, in order to bypass the order prohibiting the sale in the French territory of any work printed in the Swiss city –. This is the first complete edition of the great Athenian philosopher’s works, which would remain, for more than two centuries, the unavoidable landmark for all studies on Plato, and whose paging has been universally taken as a reference instrument for Plato’s texts. In the preface, Henri Estienne makes the reader aware of his wish to create an edition of great scientific value: as for the text in Greek, he says he collated not only all the printed editions available – the princes, printed by Aldo in 1513, those from Basel edited by Simon Gryaneus in 1534 and 1556, and Lovanio’s (1531) – but also a number of manuscripts. For what concerns the Latin translation, once Marsilio Ficino’s traditional one had been dismissed, a new one was commissioned to Jean de Serres, author of the dedicatory epistles as well, addressed to Queen Elisabeth, to James VI of Scotland and to the Republic of Bern respectively, and placed at the beginning of the three volumes and often missing. This edition is undoubtedly, from a typographic perspective, the most luxurious of all the editions published by Henri Estienne: many historiated first letters, ending ornaments and running headers were engraved on purpose, and the beautiful typographic mark, which appears in the title page of the first volume, was employed just for this occasion. It is interesting to notice that the two editions on which Henri Estienne’s reputation as a publisher relies most significantly are those which determined his financial ruin: the extremely high costs he sustained, first for the monumental Thesaurus grecae linguae (1572) and then for the Platone (1578) were not balanced out by sales. The editorial activity went through a sudden slowing down, which forced Henri Estienne to turn more and more from publisher into printer, putting his own printing presses at others’ disposal; in the last twenty years of his activity – Henri died in 1598 – he published only twenty-six works, compared to triple this number in the first twenty years of his activity.

Adams P 1468; Schreiber 201.

Price: 12 000.00 EUR