An Extremely Rare Roman Vergil

Vergil (Publius Vergilius Maro) (70-19 B.C.)

Opera [Bucolica, Georgica, Aeneis, with argumenta]. Add: Maphaeus Vegius: Liber XIII Aeneidos. Additional texts

Rome: Ulrich Han (Udalricus Gallus) and Simon Nicolai Chardella, de Lucca, 4 Nov. 1473


Folio: 28 x 20 cm. 240 of 268 unnumbered leaves. Lacking 28 leaves (2 blank and 26 leaves of text). See below for a full accounting.

An extremely rare and very early Roman Vergil. In addition to this copy, only 16 copies are recorded, of which at least 6 are defective (including the British Museum and Princeton copies.) There are only three copies in North America (Princeton, Huntington, Morgan.)

Bound in a Roman binding of blind-stamped calfskin over wooden boards (remboîtage), rebacked, lacking bosses and clasps, corners with signs of wear. The text, while incomplete, is largely in very fine condition, partially rubricated, printed on heavy paper, and annotated at various points (Eclogues I-VII, Aeneid IV, VI, and VIII) by a contemporary reader. Four leaves are defective, the lost portions of the leaves repaired. There are occasional minor dampstains. An early owner has added attractive headlines in the upper, blank margins.

Vergil’s major works, the Eclogues, Georgics, and Aeneid, were first printed in 1469 by Sweynheym and Pannartz at Rome. This edition, printed by Ulrich Han and Simon Nicolai Chardella, is the 15th edition, and only the third printed at Rome, preceded by the 1469 edition and a second, also by Sweynheym and Pannartz in 1471.

This copy includes the complete texts of the Bucolics, Georgics, and Aeneid, and many of the minor poems. It lacks only the Priapeia, 4 leaves from the life of Vergil, some of the minor poems, and the final table.

This copy comprises leaves 2-4, 11-22, 24-215, 217-226, 237-244, 246-260 (includes blank leaf 139. lvs 2, 3, 246 and 260 are defective). Lacking leaves: 1 (blank), 5-10 (lvs 5-8: part of Donatus’ life of Vergil, lvs 9-10: Minor poems as follows: Hortulus. De vino et Venere. De livore. De cantu Sirenarum. De die natali. De fortuna. De Orpheo), 23 (blank), 216 (beginning of Vegio’s continuation of the Aeneid), 227-236 (Priapeia and first verses of Copa), 245 (opening verses of the Dirae), 261-8 (last part of Ciris. Catalecton. Colophon. table.)

Contents: Tabula. Donatus: Vita Vergilii. Epitaphia Vergilii. De aetatibus animalium. De ludo. De aerumnis Herculis. Argumenta Librorum Aeneidos. De Musarum inventis. Elegia in Maecenatis obitu. Epitaphia Vergilii. De speculo. Mira Vergilii versus experientia. Mira Vergilii experientia. De quattuor temporibus anni. De ortu solis. De Herculis laboribus. De littera Y. De signis caelestibus. Versiculi, "Nocte pluit tota". In Balistam latronem. Ovidius: Versus. Summa Vergilianae narrationis. Bucolica, Georgicora, Aeneis. Maffeo Vegio: Continuatio Aeneidos. Moretum. Priapea. Copa. Est et non. Vir bonus. Rosae. Culex. Dirae. Aetna. Ciris. Catalecton. Colophon. Tabula.

About the printer: Ulrich Han (fl.1467-78) left his native Ingolstadt for Vienna, where, in 1462, he became the first printer. He then went to Rome, where he established one of the first presses in that city. He produced what is claimed to be the first book in Italy illustrated by woodcuts, the Meditationes vitae Christi by Cardinal Turrecremata (1467), and c.1468, Bonaventura's Legenda maior S. Francisci, the first book printed in the Italian language. He had Simon Nicolai Chardella as a partner between 1471 and 1474. Chardella, a merchant from Lucca, provided Han with financial backing while the Rome book trade was in crisis. Han made a decision similar to other Italian printers at this time, in turning to the production of legal texts rather than classical and patristic books, whose overproduction had probably caused the crisis.

Goff V157; C 6011; TFS 1905e; Davies & Goldfinch 15; C(IVir) 17; Mambelli 21; Pell Ms 11608; CIBN V-112; Delisle 1973; IGI 10188; IBE 6112; Voull(B) 3328; Schmitt I 3328; Bod-inc V-075; Sheppard 2673; Pr 3358; BMC IV 24; BSB-Ink V-107; GW M49748. Vatican Library digitized copy: