[Greek Classics]

Lucian of Samosata
Deorum dialogi numero 70.

Strasbourg, Johann Schott, 1515.

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Parallel text in Greek and Latin. Edited and translated by the Alsatian Catholic Humanist Ottmar Nachtgall, latinized as Luscinus (1478-1537).

A very good, complete, wide-margined copy of the first separate Greek-Latin edition of Lucian of Samosata's (2nd century AD) the Dialogues of the Gods, Dialogues of the Sea Gods and Dialogues of the Dead are of particular interest in the study of Greek mythology. In these 70 dialogues Lucian mocks the traditional and Homeric representation of Greek deities.

Lucian of Samosata (c. 125 - after 180) was an Assyrian satirist and the author of very popular, mordant works in prose, poetry and dialogue form, inspired by the philosophical current of the Cynics and their indifference towards received conventions. Known for his characteristic tongue-in-cheek style, Lucian frequently ridiculed superstition, religious practices, and belief in the paranormal. Although his native language was probably Syriac, all of his extant works are written entirely in Ancient Greek (in this case the Attic Greek).

In the seventy imaginary dialogues collected in this volume, he portrays with a disenchanted eye the Greek gods, goddesses and heroes of the heavens, sea and the nether regions, including Jove, Prometheus, Neptune, Hermes, Apollo, Bacchus as well as nymphs, etc. etc.

During the Renaissance Lucian's works were deemed useful for the education of youth for their engaging content and brilliant style. A great promoter of the teaching of Greek in Strasbourg, Nachtgall explained, in his preface to this edition, how he had been taught Greek using Lucian's 'Dialogues'. Widely translated, Lucian's writings influenced European authors including Shakespeare and Marlowe, and inspired fundamental works of Western thought such as Thomas More's 'Utopia'.

Bibliographic references:

Adams L1617; BM STC German p. 530; Brunet III, 1208; Ritter 1388; Chrisman A2.211.

Physical description:

Quarto; text block measures 21 cm x 15 cm, wide margins. Bound in 18th-century full vellum, flat spine decorated in gilt.

84 unnumbered leaves (forming 168 pages).
Signatures: a-x4.

Printed in Greek and Roman letter (parallel Greek and Latin text on facing pages). Title-Page printed in red and black; opening woodcut decorative initials and headlines on a2v and a3r printed in red, two further woodcut initials on l1v and l2r.

Each page of the Greek text with woodcut decorative typographic border to left-hand margin.

Includes prefatory epistle by Nachtgall addressed to the printer, Johann Schott, on leaves (a1v-2r), and, at the end of the volume, his concluding address to the reader and verses on Lucian (x2v-3r), and Errata (x3v-4r). Verso of x4 blank.


Very Good antiquarian condition. Complete. Binding with some rubbing and light soiling. Interior with occasional light-to-moderate browning, occasional minor marginal soiling. Tips of the outer corners of the first and last leaf slightly worn and a bit chipped; Inner margin of the final leaf with a small hole and inconspicuous reinforcement at gutter (text not affected). Front free endpaper slightly creased. A very attractive, solid, unrestored, wide-margined example of this uncommon, elegantly printed edition.

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