Venice: Bernardinus de Choris and Simon de Luere for Andreas Torresanus, August, 13 1491.

First obtainable edition of Plato's works in which "the germs of all ideas can be found."

(Item #847) OPERA. Plato.


Venice: Bernardinus de Choris and Simon de Luere for Andreas Torresanus, August, 13 1491. Second edition. Folio (pages measure 311 x 211 mm), collating: [4 leaves], 444 leaves, complete. Early 20th century Zaehnsdorf binding of quarter speckled calf over marbled boards, red morocco spine label, and five raised bands. Outer joints a bit weak, but cords holding well. Internally a clean, wide-margined copy with just a few marginal spots on the preliminary and final pages and a few short worm pinholes running through the first 17 and the last 15 leaf margins. In excellent condition overall, printed in Gothic type in double columns and with scattered early marginalia in red ink. Early ownership inscription of the Ecclesiastical College of Strassburg on title and bookplate of Kenneth Rapoport on the front paste-down. Marsilio Ficino’s Latin translation.

Second editions of Ficino’s translation of Plato’s work (first published 1484), as well as his chief philosophical work, the Platonica theologia in which he attempts to illustrate the harmony between Platonism and Christian theology (first published 1482), and this edition is the first to collect both works together in one. With no complete copy of the 1484 first edition at auction since the 1940s, this edition is realistically the first obtainable edition of Plato's works.

Plato was the first of the ancient philosophers to appear in print, and for nearly thirty years Ficino’s translation was the only published version available, until the appearance of the Greek 'editio princeps' in 1513. Ficino’s translation took twenty years to complete, and during this time he was assisted by members of the Platonic Academy founded by his patron, Cosimo de Medici, whose ambition was to revive the study of Platonic philosophy. “Amidst a great diversity, both of subject and treatment, the dialogues are pervaded by two dominant impulses: a love of truth and a passion for human improvement. While nowhere is a definite system laid down, it has been truly said that the germs of all ideas can be found in Plato.” (“Printing and the Mind of Man” # 27, for 1484 edition).

BMC V, 465 (IB. 23432); IGI 7861; Polain(B) 3190; Goff P-772; PMM 27.
(Item #847)

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