“Friends hold all things in common”

Erasmus, Desiderius (ca. 1466-1536)

Chiliades Adagiorvm: Opvs Integrum Et Perfectum D. Erasmi Roterodami, locupletatum & recognitum, quem admodum in extremis conatibus autori uisum est ; Acceßit indicibus antiquis in hac impreßione nouus & tertius ...

Cologne: Ex officina Ioannis Gymnici, 1540


Folio: 31.2 x 20 cm. [88], 3-874, [1] pp. A-d6, e8, f-g6, A-Z6, Aa-Zz6, Aaa-Zzz6, Aaaa-Dddd6 (last leaf is blank.)

A very fine copy bound in contemporary pigskin over beveled wooden boards, tooled in blind. The clasps lacking, some scuffing and soiling to lower board, otherwise a very nice binding. Internally a beautiful copy with the lightest of occasional soiling. Gyminus’ fine hippocamp device appears on the title.

A very rare Cologne edition of Erasmus’ beloved and extraordinarily influential “Adages”, first conceived as a collection of proverbial sayings drawn from the Latin authors of antiquity elucidated for the use of those who aspired to write an elegant Latin style. In its first incarnation, the “Adagia” consisted of about eight hundred proverbs. The present version, Erasmus' "Adagia Chiliades" (“Thousands of Adages”) is more than just a vastly expanded edition of that first enterprise: "

A glance at its composition reveals that the ‘Adagia Chiliades’ was in fact -as well as in name- a new book, and that Greek scholarship was largely responsible for the difference. Instead of 818 adages there were 3,260. Of those, about four-fifths were either new or substantially altered in form. And 2,734 contained Greek passages of two to six lines or more in length.”(Renaissance Humanism, vol. 2, pages 232-233).

“In the dedication Erasmus pointed out the profit an author may derive, both in ornamenting his style and in strengthening his argumentation, from having at his disposal a good supply of sentences hallowed by their antiquity. He proposes to offer such a help to his readers. What he actually gave was much more. He familiarized a much wider circle than the earlier humanists had reached with the spirit of antiquity.

“Prior to the ‘Adages’, the humanists had, to some extent, monopolized the treasures of classic culture, in order to parade their knowledge of which the multitude remained destitute, and so to become strange prodigies of learning and elegance. With his irresistible need of teaching and his sincere love for humanity and its general culture, Erasmus introduced the classic spirit, in so far as it could be reflected in the soul of a sixteenth-century Christian, among the people. Erasmus made current the classic spirit. Humanism ceased to be the exclusive privilege of a few. According to Beatus Rhenanus he had been reproached by some humanists, when about to publish the 'Adagia', for divulging the mysteries of their craft. But he desired that the book of antiquity should be open to all." (Huizinga, p. 39-40)

Van der Haeghen I, 4; Bezzel, 83; VD16 E 1944