The Lyon Vergil

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

Opera Vergiliana docte & familiariter exposita: docte guide[m] Bucollica & Georgica a Servio, Donato, Mancinello & Probo nuper addito, cum adnotationib[us] Beroaldinis, Aeneis vero ab ijde[m] pr[a]eter Mancinellum & Probu[m] & ab Augustino Datho in ejus principio, Opusculoru[m] pr[a]eterea q[uae]da[m] ab Domitio Calderino. familiariter vero o[mn]ia ta[m] opera q[uam] opuscula ab Jodoco Badio Ascencio

Lyon: Jacobus Saçon for Ciriacus Hochperg, 1517


Folio: 30.8 x 21.5 cm. Collation: Pt. I: 216 lvs. Collation:*10, a-z8, aa-bb8, cc6 (cc6 blank). Pt. II: 342 lvs. Collation: ††8, A-Z8, AA-QQ8, RR-SS6, TT10

FIRST LYON BADIUS EDITION. The third edition with these woodcuts and the last edition to include them all. Two parts in one volume with titles printed in red and black within fine architectural woodcut borders. Illustrated with 207 large woodcut illustrations (64 in the first part and 143 in the second part.) A full-page woodcut of Vergil with the muse Calliope appears on the recto of †1.

A fine, complete copy, bound in 18th century calfskin. There are discreet repairs to the fore-edge and foot of the title, affecting two letters on the verso. Leaf CC1 has a tear in the gutter without loss. VERY RARE. This is the first complete copy that I have handled in 15 years of specializing in early editions of Vergil. The only other copy that I have handled lacked the full-page image of Vergil and his muse.

These blocks were cut for Grüninger’s 1502 edition of Vergil, the first illustrated Vergil. The book, edited by Sebastian Brant, was extraordinary in the number and variety of its illustrations. “Grüninger’s artist applied to the work a skilled hand and a lively imagination… The blocks must have passed to Saçon at Lyon shortly after the printing of the Strasbourg 1515 edition of Thomas Murner’s German translation of the ‘Aeneid,’ described in Murray’s catalogue of German books, vol. 2, no. 426… The block of Vergil and Calliope is from the title page of the 1502 edition.”(Mortimer) "The subtle detail of Sébastien Brant's woodcuts would certainly escape the spectator who could not read the text and seem, rather, calculated to appeal to one whose familiarity with the poems would allow him to appreciate precise visual allusions. In several cases, Brant's work incorporates details drawn from the commentators' interpretations. As a humanistic scholar, he is said to have placed the stamp of his own thorough knowledge of Vergil upon the book by providing master sketches for the illustrators."(Eleanor Winsor Leach)

Brunet V 1282; Baudrier vol 12, pp. 344-346; Renouard, Badius Ascensius, vol. 3 p. 370-372, no. 11. Cf. Eleanor Winsor Leach, "Brant's and Dryden's Editions of Vergil" in "The Early Illustrated Book", pp. 176 ff.) and Rabb, Theodore K. "Sebastien Brant and the First Illustrated Edition of Vergil." in "Princeton University Library Chronicle 21", 1960: 187-99.