[Incunabula - Lyons] [Latin Classics] [Philosophy - Stoicism] [Ethics] [Early Book Illustrations]

Marcus Tullius Cicero,
De officiis (Comm: Petrus Marsus);
Laelius, sive de amicitia;
Cato maior, sive de senectute;
Paradoxa Stoicorum cum interpretibus suis

[Lyons, Jean Du Pré (printer of Lyons), ca. 1494].


Text in Latin.

EXTRAORDINARILY RARE EDITION, with only 8 (other) copies In libraries worldwide as recorded by ISTC, no other copies in America. There also exists a dated edition (12 May 1492) of these works by Jean Du Pré which is even rarer.

The volume Includes Cicero’s most popular philosophical and ethical works with extensive commentaries by contemporary Italian humanists:

This extremely rare Lyonese edition is embellished with a superb full-page woodcut (on verso of the title-page) depicting the interior of a scriptorium or a library, with one man presenting a book to another, as well as numerous fine decorative initials in text.

Physical description:

Median Quarto, leaves measure 242 mm x 165 mm; rebound in 20th-century full brown calf (unadorned), spine with three prominent raised bands. 212 leaves (forming 424 pages), foliated in roman numerals with some errors in numeration.

Signatures: a-z8 A-B8 C-D6.

Title (“Tullius de officiis...”) with a woodcut initial on a1, with a fine full-page woodcut on verso (a1v). Text begins on a2r. Registrum on D6r (verso blank).

Cicero’s text printed in single column, in large gothic letter, surrounded (on three sides) with commentary in smaller gothic letter; 59 lines of commentary per page. Typefaces used: Typ. 10:80G, 7:81G, 12:81G, 11:62G, 20:54G.

Numerous decorative (mostly with floral and leafy motifs) woodcut initials in text (7-line initials for main text; 6-line initials for commentary).


Bookplate (on front free endpaper) of Bernd Oetter (born 1937), a German lawyer and diplomat, who was Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, and from 1998 to 2002 he was the German Embassador to the Holy See in Rome.

Several manuscript marginal notes (faded) in an early 16th-century hand; and some charmingly drawn ‘manicules’ (pointing hands indicating noteworthy passages in text).

An (undeciphered) 16th-century (?) ownership inscription to title-page.

Bibliographic references:

Pellechet 3744; Arnoult 458; Fernillot 194; Neveu 188; IBE 1645; Madsen 1178; GW 6971; GfT 2113, 2116, 2117.


Very Good antiquarian condition. Complete. Binding a bit rubbed, with light fading to spine. Internally with occasional light soiling, somewhat heavier to title-page which is rather darkened as a result, and with an early ownership inscription. Some faded early manuscript marginalia with manicules to several leaves. Title, as well as the next leaf and four leaves at the end with neat marginal rice-paper repairs (mostly along the edges), text not affected. Two pages (r7v and s7v) with an (original) printing defect (without loss) caused by the sheet having been slightly creased when in the printing press. A few leaves in quire o with light marginal water-staining with some spotting to outer margin. A few tiny wormholes in the final four quires, catching an occasional letter (mostly in commentary), but not impairing legibility; the final leaf with some spotting due to damp-staining. In all, a solid, genuine, well-margined example of one of the rarest incunable editions of Cicero’s most popular works, with a charming large woodcut.