Bound in a Contemporary Signed & Dated Binding

Plato (427-347 B.C.).

[Works in Greek] Platonis Omnia Opera, ex vetustissimorum exemplarium collatione multo nunc quam antea emendatiora.

Basel: Heinrich Petri, 1556


Folio: 31.7 x 20.4 cm. 6 lvs, 690 pp., 23 lvs. [alpha]6, [alpha]-[omega]6, [2Alpha]-[2Omega]6, [3Alpha]-[3Eta]6, [3Theta]-[3Iota]8, [3Kappa]-[3Mu]6, [3Nu]4

The third edition of the Greek text of Plato (first ed. Venice, 1513; 2nd ed. Basel, 1534).

Bound in contemporary, alum-tawed pigskin, signed and dated "IC.K.H. 1572." The binding is richly tooled in blind, with scrolling vines, sheaves of wheat, figured rolls of Faith, Hope and Temperance. In the central compartments are two large stamps of unidentified German princes and their arms within architectural frames. The lower board is dampstained but the binding is in otherwise excellent condition, the impressions of the tools very sharp. Internally, this copy is in excellent condition. The leaves are clean with broad margins (with a few deckled edges). There are occasional manuscript annotations, particularly in the margins of leaves [Nu]5-6 and [Xi]1-3. There is some very light staining in the margins of the final six signatures. With the exception of the preliminary matter, the text is set entirely in Greek and adorned with woodcut capitals. Petri's woodcut printer's device appears on the title page. A beautiful copy.

This edition was edited by the Dutch humanist Arnoldus Arlenius (d. 1582). The preface is signed by Marcus Hopper, Petri’s secretary and professor of Greek at the University of Basel, who dedicates the edition to Basilio Amerbach. Hopper makes two main points in his preface: that the edition was designed so as to be more affordable and easily usable for the wider reading public, and that thanks to Arlenius’ exhaustive quest for new manuscripts from Italy, it had been possible to note and to correct a host of errors (the corrections number 1,000), so that the edition is the most authoritative.

“Plato’s central conception of a universe of ideas, Perfect Types, of which material objects are imperfect forms, and his ethical code based on action according to human nature, developed by education, which represents the authority of the State, fit in as well with the religious and constitutional ideas of fifteenth-century Italy as it did with those of the Byzantine Greeks, by whom Plato was reintroduced to the Western world.” (PMM)

Adams P 1438; Hieronymus, Greek 143; VD 16, P 3276; cf. PMM 27