Εὐριπίδου τραγῳδίαι ἐπτακαίδεκα, ὧν ἔνιαι μετὰ ἐξηγήσεων...Euripidis tragoediae septedecim, ex quib. quaedam habent commentaria & sunt hae: Hecuba, Orestes, Phoenissae, Medea, Hippolytus, Alcestis, Andromache, Supplices, Iphigenia in Aulide, Iphigenia in Tauris, Rhesus, Bacchae, Cyclops, Heraclidae, Helen, Ion. Venice, Aldo Manuzio, February 1503. (uniformly bound with:) Idem. Ἐυριπίδου Ἠλέκτρα. Euripidis Electra. Nunc primum in lucem edita. Rome, [Blado Antonio], 1545. Venice, Aldo Manuzio, February 1503.
Two works uniformly bound in three volumes. I. Two volumes, 8° (160x97 mm). Collation: Ν-Ξ8, Ο10, Π-Ρ8, Σ10,Τ-Υ8,Φ6, Χ-Ω8, ΑΑ-ΒΒ8, ΓΓ6, ΔΔ-ΖΖ8, ΗΗ6, ΘΘ-ΙΙ8, ΚΚ10, [χ]4; ΛΛ8, ΜΜ10, ΝΝ-ΡΡ8, ΣΣ10, ΤΤ8, ΥΥ6, ΦΦ-ΧΧ8, ΨΨ4, ΩΩ8, ΑΑΑ-ΒΒΒ8, ΓΓΓ6, ΔΔΔ-ΖΖΖ8, ΗΗΗ6, ΘΘΘ-ΚΚΚ8, ΛΛΛ4 (fols. Δ4, Φ6, ΗΗ6, ΣΣ10, ΥΥ6 blanks). ;  leaves. Greek, roman and italic type. On fol. KK10v of first volume and on fol. ΛΛΛ4v of the second one woodcut Aldine device. Blank spaces for capitals, with printed guide letters. II. 8°(155×92 mm). Collation: A-Γ8, Δ8 (fols. A1v, Δ7 and Δ8 blanks). 30 leaves, wanting the two final blanks. 30 following blank leaves were added for uniformly binding the volume with the first two. Greek, roman and italic type. On the title-page, a circular woodcut showing a coin ('asse') of Caesar Augustus (Cohen 228), and the woodcut arms of the dedicatee, Cardinal Ardinghelli. Six-line woodcut decorated initial on fol. A2r.
Uniformly bound in English dark blue morocco ca. 1840, covers within triple gilt fillet, central lozenge tooled in gilt with flowers and leafy stems. Spine with five small raised bands underlined by dotted gilt fillets, compartments richly gilt tooled; author's name, volume numbering and imprint 'Aldvs 1503' (first and second volume), 'ROM. 1545' (third volume) in gilt lettering. Marbled pastedowns and flyleaves, board edges decorated with narrow frieze, inside dentelles. Gilt edges. An excellent, and wide-margined copy, carefully washed and pressed. A few pencilled bibliographical annotations in the first volume, on the recto of the rear marbled flyleaf.
Provenance: Sir Robert Peel, second baronet (1788-1850), Prime Minister of Great Britain for two terms of office, 1834-1835 and 1841-1846, with his Drayton Manor armorial ex-libris in each volume.
A superb, uniformly bound set with a distinguished provenance, containing – as a virtually complete corpus – the first Aldine edition of eighteen plays by Euripides, and one of the scarcest Greek books printed in Rome, the 1545 editio princeps of Electra, the only tragedy still lacking in the Aldine publication. The first two volumes contain the first Aldine edition of Euripides – the second ever after the Florentine princeps of 1495, edited by Ianos Laskaris – notably enlarged to include a total of eighteen tragedies. This influential and widely popular edition thus contains all the plays except Electra, which only came to light in 1545.
Although the title-page lists the titles of only seventeen plays, the edition also includes Hercules Furens, which was added during the press run at the end of the second volume. Euripides' plays are not accompanied by commentary.
For the texts of Medea, Hippolytos, Alcestis, and Andromache, Aldus closely followed the Florentine princeps, but he gave no information on the manuscripts used for the other tragedies. It has long been believed that the editor could have been the famous Cretan scholar Marcos Mousuros, yet it is quite possible that responsibility for establishing the text belonged primarily to Ioannes Gregoropoulos, another Cretan coadjutor at the Venetian press. The edition remained the Euripidean vulgate until at least the second half of the nineteenth century. The Euripides is in parva forma, the handy portable size which was introduced by Aldus for the Virgil of 1501.
The text of Electra was first printed by Blado in 1545, and edited by the Florentine Pietro Vettori (1499-1585) on the basis of a manuscript discovered by his disciples Bartolomeo Barbadori and Girolamo Mei. It is the first edition printed by Blado with his new Greek type, designed by Giovanni Onorio da Maglie at the request of Cardinal Marcello Cervini. The fine volumes presented here had belonged to Sir Robert Peel, Prime Minister of Great Britain, appointed under King William IV and Queen Victoria. They are late examples of the 'Harleian' style, so called after Edward Harley, second Earl of Oxford.
I. Adams E-1030; STC Italian 239; Renouard Alde, 43.10; Ahmanson-Murphy 69; Sicherl Manutius, pp. 291-309; Hoffmann II, p. 68; Legrand I, 31; Layton, The Sixteenth-Century Greek Book in Italy, p. 383; Staikos, Charta of Greek Printing, p. 343; Staikos, The Greek Editions of Aldus Manutius and his Greek Collaborators (1495-1515), New Castle, DE 2016, 33. II. Adams E-1052; STC Italian 239; Fumagalli 79 (“rarissimo”); Ascarelli, p. 100; Hoffmann II, p. 82; M. L. Agati, G. Onorio da Maglie, Roma 2001, pp. 41-44; R. A. Gaunt, Sir Robert Peel. The Life and Legacy, London 2010; Philobiblon, One Thousand Years of Bibliophily, no. 48.