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Fifteenth Century Printed Books at Bryn Mawr (BMC)

Overview of collection of 15th century printed book collection (incunabula).

Classical Texts

The collection includes a large number of editions of the works of Classical Latin and Greek writers, including many texts edited by prominent humanist scholars and some of the earliest works printed in Greek. 

Apollonius, Rhodius. Argonautica. Florence: [Laurentius (Francisci) de Alopa, Venetus], 1496. A-924.

Latin Texts

The collection holds a large quantity of classical authors in Latin, including the works of Greek authors whose works have been translated into Latin. It is especially strong in works edited by prominent Humanist scholars, reflecting the interests of Phyllis Goodhart Gordan. 

The titles and authors in the collection are representative of the range of texts that were enjoyed and frequently studied in fifteenth century, but the collection has a particular interest in editions of Cicero’s De officiis and Tusculanae disputationes, Martial’s Epigrammata, Juvenal’s Satyrae, Josephus’ Antiquitates and De bello iudaico, and Valerius Maximus’ Facta et dicta memorabila, all represented by at least four editions.

Latin Texts - First Printed Editions

The collection includes eighteen editiones principes, the first printed editions of Classical authors, including:

Ambrose. Opera. Basel: Johann Amerbach, 1492. f A-551. First complete edition.

Augustine. Explanatio psalmorum. Basel: Johann Amerbach, 1489. f A-1272.

Boethius, De trinitate, de hebdomadibus, de praedicatione. Venice: Paganino Paganini, 1489. B-830.

Censorinus. De die natali. Bologna: Benedetto Faelli, 1497. f C-376.

Cassiodorus. Expositio in psalterium. Basel: Johann Amerbach, 1491. f C-236.

Cassiodorus. Historia ecclesiastica tripartita. Augsburg: Johann Schüssler, 1472. f C-237.

Fabius Planciades Fulgentius. Mythologiae. Milan: Uldericus Scinzenzeler, 1498. f J-216 c.2.

Lactantius. Epitome. Venice: Vindelinus de Spira, 1472. f L-5.

Macrobius. In somnium Scipionis expositio. Venice: Nicolaus Jenson, 1472. f M-8.

Martianus Capella. De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii de grammatica. Vicenza: Henricus de Sancto Ursio, 1499. f C-117.

Nonius Marcellus. De proprietate latini sermonis. [Rome: Georgius Lautus, c. 1470]. f N-263.

Orosius. Historiarum adversus paganos libri septem. Augsburg: Johann Schüssler, 1471. f O-96.

Ps.-Ausonius. Perichae Homeri and Septem spientum sententiae. Parma: Angelus Ugoletus, 1499. A-1404.

Ps.-Quintilian. Declamationes minors. Parma: Angelus Ugoletus, 1494. f Q-22.

Seneca. Naturales quaestiones. Venice: Bernardinus de Cremona and Simon de Luero, 1490. f S-370.

Suetonius. De grammaticism et rhetoribus. [Rome, Johann Schurener, c. 1474/5]. S-813.

Terentianus Maurus. De litteris syllabis et metris Horatii. Milan: Uldericus Scinzenzeler, 1497. T-63.

Valerius Probus. De interpretandis Romanorum litteris. [Brescia:] Boninus de Boninis, 1486. P-994.

Greek Texts

Greek posed greater technical difficulties for printers than any of the languages written in Latin letters because of the ligatures and accents with which the language was written. At an early stage, printers of Latin works with occasional Greek words, like Suetonius’ biographies of the emperors, simply left space in the text to be filled in later by a scribe. As one can imagine, going back through the text and filling in the blanks was laborious, and occasionally, the work was never done, as one can tell from some of the volumes in our collection. Gradually, printers began experimenting with Greek type, responding to the challenges of ligatures, accents, and reading apparatus in different ways. A fascinating example of this experimentation in the development of Greek type comes from the editio princeps of Apollonius Rhodius’ Argonautica in the College’s collection, which was printed in the year 1496 by Laurentius de Alopa at Florence using Greek capitals for the main text with a surrounding commentary in a rounded miniscule. The knowledge of Greek, which had been exceedingly rare for centuries in the West, was just beginning to attract scholars in the mid to late-fifteenth century, and the great majority of printed texts would come in the following century. Thus, incunabula printed in Greek are often pedagogical in nature (grammars and lexica), and the College’s collection reflects this trend.

Apollonius, Rhodius. Argonautica. Florence: [Laurentius (Francisci) de Alopa, Venetus], 1496. A-924.

Aristotle. Opera. Volumes 2 and 4. Venice: Aldus Manutius, 1497. f A-959. Editio Princeps

Epistolae diversorum philosophorum, oratorum, rhetorum. Venice, Aldus Manutius, 1499. E-64.

Etymologicum magnum graecum. Venice: Zacharias Callierges, for Nicolaus Blastus and Anna Notaras, 1499. ff E-112. Editio Princeps

Crastoni, Giovanni. Lexicon graeco-latinum. Venice: Aldus Manutius, 1497. f C-960.

Chrysoloras, Manuel. Erotemata. Venice: Per Peregrinum Bononiensem, 1484. C-494.

Gazes, Theodoros. Grammatike eisagoge. Venice: Aldus Manutius, 1495. f G-110.

Lascaris, Constantine. Erotemata. Venice: Aldus Manutius, [1495]. L-68.

Suidas. To men paron biblion, Souida.Milan: Johanns Bissolus and Benedictus Mangius, for Demetrius Chalcondyles, 1499. f S-829. Editio Princeps

Thesaurus Cornucopiae. Venice: Aldus Manutius, 1496. f T-158.