Vergil: Early Editions

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A Rare Incunabulum in Pigskin

INCUNABULA. Vergilius Maro, Publius (70-19 B.C.)
Opera: Bucolica and Georgica [with argumenta and commentaries by Servius, Cristoforo Landino, and Antonio Mancinelli]; Aeneis [with argumenta and commentaries by Servius, Donatus, and Landino]; with additions including Maffeo Veggio's 13th book of the Aeneid.

Venice: Philippus Pincius, 5 Feb 1499/ 1500


Chancery folio: 31 x 21 cm., 366 leaves (foliated i-ccclx in print on leaves b1-V8), a6 b-z8 &8 [con]8 [rum]8 A-V8, 46 lines of text, 62 lines of commentary plus headline, roman type, woodcut initials (3-9 lines).


ISTC iv00194000; Goff V194; C 6079 = 6075; Pr. 5320; BMC V 499; Davies & Goldfinch 82; Kallendorf 38

The Lyon Vergil

Vergil (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

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.


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.

A Fine Large-Paper Copy of the First Edition

Vergil (Publius Vergilius Maro) (70-19 B.C.); Dryden, John (1631-1700)
THE WORKS OF VIRGIL: Containing His PASTORALS , GEORGICS, AND ÆNEIS. Translated into English Verse; By Mr. Dryden. Adorn’d with a Hundred Sculptures.

London: Printed for Jacob Tonson 1697


Folio: 44.6 x 28.7 cm. [ ]2, A2, *4, **4, ***2, ****2, *****2, †2, ††2 x1, B-G4, [¶]4, [¶¶]2, H-T4, U2; (a)-(f)4, Aa-Zz4, Aaa-Zzz4, Aaaa-Ffff4, Gggg2, Hhhh-Iiii4, Kkkk2.

“Dryden’s translation of Vergil” says Pope, (whose own translation of Homer was inspired by Dryden’s work) “is the most noble and spirited translation I know in any language.”

“The book was published by subscription, a system of joint-stock patronage now coming into vogue. Dryden’s correspondence with [his publisher] Tonson showed a good many bickerings during the publication.


Wing V-616; Macdonald 33A; Wither to Prior #325; Malone I.1.313; See John Barnard “The Large- and Small-Paper Copies of Dryden’s The Works of Virgil (1697)” in “Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America” {Columbia, SC} 92, no. 3 (1998 Sept): p. 259-71.

In Contemporary Pigskin with Clasps

Vergil. Vergilius Maro, Publius (70-19 B.C.)
Opera, quae quidem extant, omnia: CVM VERIS IN BVCOLICA, GEORGICA, & Aeneida Commentarijs Tib.Donati & Seruij Honorati, summa cura ac fide à Georgio Fabricio Chemnicense emendatis: Adiecto etiam ab || eodem Rerum & uerborum locuplete in ijsdem memorabilium Indice. Quibus accesserunt etiam Probi Grammatici, Pomponij Sabini, Phil. Beroaldi, Ioan. Hartungi, Iod. Vvillichij, Georg. Fabricij, Bonfinis & aliorum Annotationes.

Basel: Per Henricum Petri, 1561


Folio: 29.5 x 20 cm. [alpha]-[beta]6, a-z6, A-Z6, Aa-Zz6, Aaa-Zzz, Aaaa6, Bbbb8.

This edition was edited by the German poet, historian and archaeologist, Georg Fabricius (Georg von Goldschmied) (1516-1571). Fabricius was born at Chemnitz in upper Saxony on the 23rd of April 1516, and educated at Leipzig. Travelling in Italy with one of his pupils, he made an exhaustive study of the antiquities of Rome. He published the results in his Roma (1550), in which the correspondence between every discoverable relic of the old city and the references to them in ancient literature was traced in detail.


VD16 V 1377

An Extremely Rare Illustrated Venetian Vergil

Vergilius Maro, Publius (70-19 B.C.)
Pub. Vergilii Maronis Bucolica, Georgica, Aeneis, cum Seruii commentarijs accuratissime emendatis, in quibus multa quae deerant sunt addita, Grecae dictiones & versus ubique restituti. Sequitur Probi celebris grammatici in Bucolica & Georgica commentariolus, non ante impressus. Ad hos Donati fragmenta, Christophori Landini, et Antonii Mancinelli commentarii.

Venice: in officina Aurelii Pincii Veneti excussi et per Baptistam Egnatium Venetum emendati, 1536


Quarto: 20.7 x 15 cm. [8], XLVIII, CXVIII, CCCXVI lvs. A8, b-g8, A-O8, P6; AA-ZZ8, AAA-QQQ8, RRR4

Illustrated with 18 woodcuts (1 on the title page, 1 for the Eclogues, 4 for the Georgics, and 12 for the Aeneid.)Bound in contemporary limp vellum with some stains, bottom portion of spine defective. This is an unsophisticated copy, the text fresh but with some short wormtrails, sometimes affecting the text though not offensively, intermittent light dampstaining, a bit stronger in the lower, outer margins of some signatures.


Mambelli, Gli annali delle edizioni virgiliane, n. 177; Kallendorf, A Bibliography of the Early Printed Editions of Virgil, 1469-1850, LW1536.2

A Fine Copy

Vergilius Maro, Publius (70-19 B.C.)
P. Virgilii Maronis Opera interpretatione et notis illustravit Carolus Ruaeus Soc. Iesu… ad usum Serenissimi Delphini. Editio Secunda

Paris: Apud Simonem Benard, Ex Typographia Dionysii Thierry, 1682


Quarto: 24.2 x 19 cm. [xxvi], 864, [clxxxviii] pp. Signatures: a4, e4, i4, õ1, A-5Q4, a-z4, [2d]a4 (lacking blank 2G4). With an added engraved frontispiece.



Schweiger 1170-1171.

The Elizabethan Vergil

Vergilius Maro, Publius (70-19 B.C.); Phaer, Thomas (1510?-1560), translator
The Thirteene Bookes of Aeneidos. The first twelve beeing the worke of the diuine poet, Virgil Maro, and the thirteenth, the supplement of Maphæus Vegius. Translated into English verse, to the first third part of the tenth booke, by Thomas Phaer Esquier: and the residue finished, and now newly set forth for the delight of such as are studious in poetrie: By Thomas Twyne, Doctor in Physicke.

London: Printed by Thomas Creede, 1607


Quarto: 17.6 x 13.1 cm. a4, A-V8, X4 (lacking blank leaf X4)

Thomas Phaer, "the first Englishman to attempt a translation of the whole work" (DNB) was also the first to translate the Aeneid into English verse (after Caxton’s prose and Douglas’ Scots translations.) Phaer died without completing the work. Thomas Twyne added a translation of the remaining three books of the epic (1573); the 1584 edition was the first to contain the "thirteenth book" or continuation of Maphaeus Vegius.


STC 24805; Harris, First Printed Translations into English (1573) p.159; cf. Pforzheimer Cataogue 1028; cf. Langland to Wither, 238