Dionysius Halicarnaseus (ca. 60–after 7 BC).
Antiquitates Romanae. Treviso, Bernardinus Celerius, 24 or 25 February 1480.
Folio (289x196 mm). Collation: [110, 2-78, 8-96, 10–238, 24-378, 386].  leaves, complete with the final blank. Text in one column, 37 lines. Type: 1:113R. Blank spaces for capitals, with no guide letters. Early nineteenth-century vellum over pasteboards. Smooth spine attractively gilt tooled, title and imprint in gilt on double lettering-piece. A good copy, marginal soiling and staining to opening leaves. The outer blank margin of the last quires waterstained.
Provenance: the Florentine humanist Benedetto Varchi (1503-1565; ownership inscription on the recto of first leaf, marginalia and underlining in the first two quires in his own hand); the Florentine diplomat Pandolfo Attavanti (sixteenth-century ownership inscription on the recto of first leaf); the Tuscan scholar Alemanno Orsucci (eighteenth-century ownership inscription on the recto of first leaf); Kenneth Rapoport (ex-libris on the front pastedown).
First edition of Greek historian Dionysius of Halicarnassus' narrative of the history of Rome from its beginnings to the First Punic War, in a precious copy once owned by the Florentine humanist Benedetto Varchi.
In his postscript, the translator, Lapus Biragus of Milan (the suffix 'Flor'[entinus] was erroneously added to his name in this edition), states that he based his Latin translation on two manuscripts from the library of Pope Paul II, to whom the edition is dedicated. The translation was probably carried out in 1469 as the papal archives record that during that year the Pope paid a scribe to make a copy of a manuscript by Dionysius.
This edition was the first dated book to be issued from the Treviso press of the itinerant printer Bernardinus Celerius from Lovere; it was his third press overall, set up after brief printing stints in Venice and Padua. He printed only a few books at Treviso (Goff and Hain-Copinger list four, Rhodes five), where he was active between 24 February and 18 September 1480, before returning to Venice at the end of 1480. At least six variant issues of Dionysius' colophon and the paragraph preceding it have been recorded, but no priority of issue has been established.
The present copy is enriched by a highly interesting provenance, as it comes from the library of the distinguished humanist Benedetto Varchi, one of the leading sixteenth-century Florentine scholars, whose intellectual interests varied from lyrical, pastoral, and spiritual poetry to Dante studies, history to philosophy, linguistic theory to aesthetics, and even alchemy and Pythagorean numerology. He assembled a great book collection, whose inventories are today preserved in the National Library of Florence (ms II.VIII.142; Filze Rinuccini 11, fols. 266-343). For other books from Varchi's library see nos. 81 and 104 in the second volume of this catalogue.
HC *6239; GW 8423; BMC VI, 895; IGI 3484; Goff D-250; Rhodes Treviso, 79; Flodr Dionysius Halicarnaseus, 1; M. Prunai Falciani, “Manoscritti e libri appartenuti al Varchi nella Biblioteca Riccardiana di Firenze”, Accademie e biblioteche d'Italia, 53 (1985), pp. 14-29; A. Sorella, “La Biblioteca Varchi”, B. Varchi, L'Ercolano, ed. A. Sorella, Pescara 1995, pp. 155-166; R. Norbedo, “Alcuni libri posseduti da Benedetto Varchi”, Lettere italiane 56 (2004), pp. 462-467; P. Scapecchi, “Ricerche sulla biblioteca di Varchi con una lista di volumi da lui posseduti”, V. Bramanti (ed.), Benedetto Varchi 1503-1565, Roma 2007, pp. 309-318; Autografi di letterati italiani. Il Cinquecento, Roma 2009, pp. 337-351; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 23.