Description

    A Scarce Sixteenth-Century Edition of Terence's Six Comedies, Illustrated with a Remarkable Series of Woodcuts

    Terence (Publius Terentius Afer). Terentius Comico Carmine. [With the Commentaries of Aelius Donatus and Johannes Calphurnius Brixiensis]. [Strassburg: Johann Grüninger, 18 March 1503]. Fourth illustrated edition of the six comedies of Terence in Latin (first published by Johannes Trechsel at Lyons in 1493), and Grüninger's third edition in Latin, following his 1496 and 1499 editions (Grüninger also published a German translation in 1499). Folio. 156 leaves. Up to 48 lines of text surrounded by up to 74 lines of commentary in smaller type, plus headline. Full-page woodcut of a theater on the title-page, six additional full-page woodcuts depicting the dramatis personae in a land- or cityscape, one at the beginning of each play, and 142 smaller woodcuts in the text. Numerous decorative and historiated metalcut initials. Contemporary calf over wooden boards decoratively panelled in blind. Front cover lettered in blind: "Therentius." Each cover with decorative brass center- and cornerpieces, with bosses. One (of two) clasps, both decorative catch plates on the front cover and anchor plates on the back cover are present. Spine in four compartments with three raised bands. Free endleaves slightly browned. Spine cracked, with pieces missing at head and tail and in the second compartment. Several horizontal splits to covers (one on the back cover crudely repaired). Two wormholes throughout, one in the blank inner margin, one in the text; heavier worming in the upper inner corner from A1 (fol. [1]) to E2 (fol. XXX), affecting both text and woodcuts; a few additional tiny marginal wormholes on the first and last few leaves. Neatly repaired tear (2 1/2 inches) from the lower margin of V3 (fol. CXXI) into the text; paper flaw to upper blank corner of E2 (fol. XXX); short tear to lower blank margin of N6 (fol. LXXXII); short tear to upper margin of O3 (fol. LXXXV), just entering text; a few additional minor marginal tears or paper flaws. Some leaves browned; occasional dampstaining and light foxing, mainly at the edges; a few scattered rust spots, small stains, or ink splatters. Booklabel removed from front pastedown. Early ink annotations in several hands on the front pastedown, with previous owner's name erased from two inscriptions; early ink inscription at the head of B1 and B2 (fols. IX and X); early ink annotations and underlining, mostly faint, throughout the text. Despite these flaws, this is a complete and generally crisp copy, rarely seen in the trade.

    More Information:

    Terence (Publius Terentius Afer). Terentius Comico Carmine. [With the Commentaries of Aelius Donatus and Johannes Calphurnius Brixiensis]. [Strassburg: Johann Grüninger, 18 March 1503].

    Fourth illustrated edition of the six comedies of Terence in Latin (first published by Johannes Trechsel at Lyons in 1493), and Grüninger's third edition in Latin, following his 1496 and 1499 editions (Grüninger also published a German translation in 1499). Folio (11.5625 x 8.125 inches; 294 x 207 mm.). 156 leaves (numbered [6], IX-CLVIII). Errors in foliation: XCII (92), XCV (95), and CVI (106) incorrectly numbered CXII (112), CXV (115), and CXVI (116), respectively. Collation: A6 B8 C-Z6 AA6 BB4 CC6. Roman letter. Up to 48 lines of text surrounded by up to 74 lines of commentary in smaller type, plus headline. Full-page woodcut of a theater on the title-page, six additional full-page woodcuts depicting the dramatis personae in a land- or cityscape, one at the beginning of each play, and 142 smaller woodcuts in the text (135 made up of five separate blocks, one at the beginning of each scene, and seven made up of one or two blocks only, at the end of each play). Numerous decorative and historiated metalcut initials.

    Contemporary calf over wooden boards decoratively panelled in blind. Front cover lettered in blind: "Therentius." Each cover with decorative brass center- and cornerpieces, with bosses. One (of two) clasps, both decorative catch plates on the front cover and anchor plates on the back cover are present. Spine in four compartments with three raised bands. Free endleaves slightly browned. Spine cracked, with pieces missing at head and tail and in the second compartment. Several horizontal splits to covers (one on the back cover crudely repaired). Two wormholes throughout, one in the blank inner margin, one in the text; heavier worming in the upper inner corner from A1 (fol. [1]) to E2 (fol. XXX), affecting both text and woodcuts; a few additional tiny marginal wormholes on the first and last few leaves. Neatly repaired tear (2 1/2 inches) from the lower margin of V3 (fol. CXXI) into the text; paper flaw to upper blank corner of E2 (fol. XXX); short tear to lower blank margin of N6 (fol. LXXXII); short tear to upper margin of O3 (fol. LXXXV), just entering text; a few additional minor marginal tears or paper flaws. Some leaves browned; occasional dampstaining and light foxing, mainly at the edges; a few scattered rust spots, small stains, or ink splatters. Booklabel removed from front pastedown. Early ink annotations in several hands on the front pastedown, with previous owner's name erased from two inscriptions; early ink inscription at the head of B1 and B2 (fols. IX and X); early ink annotations and underlining, mostly faint, throughout the text. Despite these flaws, this is a complete and generally crisp copy, rarely seen in the trade.

    Place of printing, printer's name, and date of printing from colophon on leaf CC6 recto (fol. CLVIII, verso blank): "Impressum in nobili Helvetico[rum] urbe Arge[n]tina Per Johanne[m] Grüninger mira etiam arte ac diligentia. Anno M CCCCC III. XV Kalendas Aprilis." Forty-six lines of verse by Sebastian Brant on verso of title (A1 verso (fol. [1])), dated at foot: "Ex arge[n]tina idibus Marciis Anno. M. d. iii." Twenty-six lines of verse by Heinrich Bebel below the colophon (on CC6 recto).

    The full-page woodcuts are on A6 verso (fol. [6]) for "Andria"; F2 recto (fol. XXXVI) for "Eunuchus"; L1 verso (fol. LXV) for "Heautontimorumenos"; O2 recto (fol. LXXXIIII) for "Adelphi"; T1 verso (fol. CXIII) for "Phormio"; and Y6 verso (fol. CXXXVI) for "Hecyra" (here "Ecyra").

    Terence is the first classical author whose works were printed in the original Latin with woodcut illustrations. As early as 1486, Conrad Dinckmut had printed at Ulm a German translation of the Eunuchus, with twenty-eight large woodcuts. "Dinckmut shows named characters in Renaissance dress in an urban setting, each woodcut illustrating a separate scene, and his named human figures and urban settings were models for Trechsel and Grüninger. A similar scheme was followed by Albrecht Dürer for the woodcuts planned for Johann Amerbach of Basel in 1492. Amerbach gave up his plans when he learned of the edition planned by Johannes Trechsel for his edition of Terence printed at Lyons in 1493" (Mark P. O. Morford, "Johann Grüninger of Strasbourg," in Syntagmatia: Essays on Neo-Latin Literature in Honour of Monique Mund-Dopchie and Gilbert Tournoy, edited by Dirk Sacré and Jan Papy (Leuven, 2009), page 132).

    Trechsel's 1493 Terence was the first illustrated Latin edition of the six comedies. It contains 160 woodcuts, including a full-page woodcut of a hexagonal theater inhabited by spectators, and separate woodcuts for each scene with named characters, for the first time, occupying a stage: they stand on a platform before a structure comprised of curtained compartments, sometimes opened to reveal offstage action.

    Grüninger's 1496 Terence, which contains 165 woodcut illustrations, opens with a full-page woodcut of a theater, with characters on stage and spectators crowded on ornate balconies wrapped around a tower, and illustrates each scene with characters in contemporary dress, but does not present them on a stage. New to his edition are the full-page woodcuts opening each play, which depict the characters in landscapes or cityscapes.

    "Grüninger's illustrations, intended to clarify the complexities of Terence's plots for the reader, act as visual mnemonic devices for the book's anticipated student audience. This is demonstrated especially in the full-page woodcut that begins each play, where all of the characters are displayed with connecting lines to indicate their interrelationships. A verbal explanation and plot summary accompanies each of these illustrations. The most remarkable feature of Grüninger's Terence is his use of small interchangeable woodcuts that were combined to create the individual scene illustrations for each play. Individual blocks were cut for most of the characters of the six plays, who are identified by name in overhead banners.The blocks were cleverly combined repeatedly in groups of two to five, sometimes together with cuts of trees and buildings, to create the illustrations.Grüninger was attempting to use the woodcuts as repeatable and combinable objects, much in the same manner as movable type" (Christine Ruggere, in Vision of a Collector: The Lessing J. Rosenwald Collection in the Library of Congress, 41, describing the 1496 first Grüninger edition).

    Grüninger's Terence "is of great interest in our history for the new character of woodcut which appears to have been introduced in his workshops. It consisted in a close system of parallel lines of shading, straight or curved according to the requirements of form, which approximated more nearly than woodcut had hitherto done to the richer tonal character of line-engraving" (Arthur M. Hind, An Introduction to a History of Woodcut, pages 339-340).

    Grüninger reused his series of woodcuts, with slight variations, in his 1499 Latin and German editions, and his series was copied by Antoine Vérard for his first illustrated French translation of the plays of Terence of about 1500. The title-page woodcut and six full-page woodcuts in this 1503 edition are those used in Grüninger's 1496 and 1499 editions, the smaller woodcuts, however, are used in the 1503 edition for the first time (in the 1496 and 1499 editions, most characters are identified by name in overhead banners; here the banners are omitted).

    Adams T304. Fairfax Murray, German, 407. Graesse VI, page 54. Proctor 9889.





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