Robert Estienne's Monumental Cicero

Cicero, Marcus Tullius (106-43 B.C.); Victorius, Petrus (Pietro Vettori, 1499-1585)

M.T. Ciceronis Opera. Ex Petri Victorii codicibus maxima ex parte descripta, viri docti et in recensendis authoris huius scriptis cauti & per diligentis: quem industria, quanta potuimus, co[n]sequuti, quasdam orationes redintegratas, tres libros De legibus multo quàm antea meliores, & reliquias de commentariis qui De republica inscripti erant, magno labore collectas vndique, descriptásque libris, vobis exhibemus. Eiusdem Victorii explicationes suarum in Ciceronem castigationum. Index rerum et verborum.

Paris: Ex Officina Roberti Stephani, 1538- 1539


Folio: Five volumes bound as two: 37.5 x 25 cm. Vol I: “Rhetorica”: *8, a-s8. (*1 is the general title, a1 is the title to Vol I); “Orationes”: aa-zz8, aaa-qqq8, rrr-sss6 (lacking blank sss6); Vol II: “Epistolae”: A-Z8, AA-CC8; “Philosophica”: Aa-Zz8, AAA-DDD8, EEE10; “Explicationes”: A-P8, Q10 (Q10 blank and present)


Bound in matching 18thc. speckled calfskin bindings, rebacked, the gilding to the spine largely preserved, minor wear, corners bumped. The text is clean and broad-margined, with just the occasional minor dampstain to the upper edge of the upper blank margin. A few 18thc. annotations and underscores. 17th(?) c. inscription (scored through) on first title page: "Ex bibliotheca Petri à Thoma Montalbanensia".

Each of the five volumes has its own dated title page with a large woodcut Estienne device. The first volume is introduced by an additional, general title page. Parts 1, 3, 4 and 5 are dated 1538. Part 2 is dated 1539. The colophon at the end of the first volume reads: “Excudebat Robertus Stephanus Parisiis, Ann. M. XXXIX. Idib. Augusti.” The text is adorned with large criblé initials throughout.

For his edition, Robert Estienne used the text of Cicero as edited by Pietro Vettori, and has included Vettori's important "Explicationes" as a fifth volume. Vettori would later (in 1557) furnish the first complete text of Aeschylus' "Oresteia" for Henri Estienne II's celebrated edition of the tragedian's plays.

"The respect and renown accumulated by the edition of Cicero's complete works produced by Petrus Victorius (Pietero Vettori, 1499-1585) between 1534 and 1537, was in large part due to the careful and extensive integration of manuscript evidence into the text. During this time Victorius, as a professor of Greek and Latin in Florence, had access to the Medici library being put together by Cosimo I, encouraged Cosimo to donate his own manuscripts to the library to aid its development. Victorius supplemented his edition with Explicationes of the emendations made using this manuscript evidence; these explications, published independently of the text in 1538, revealed a determined commitment to reporting and recording the textual evidence."(East, The Radicalization of Cicero, p. 95-6)

Not in Schreiber; Brunet, II, 7; Adams, C-1640; Renouard, p. 48. Cf. PMM 64