De civitate dei. Sweynheym and Arnoldus Pannartz, 1470

AUGUSTINUS, Aurelius (354-430, Saint). De civitate dei. Rome: Conradus Sweynheym and Arnoldus Pannartz, 1470.

Super-median 2o (370 x 240 mm). Collation: [1-28 3-510 6-88 9-1110 12-148 15-1810 19-208 21-2310 24-268 27-2810 2912 3010 318 3210]. 290 leaves (of 294; without the 4 blanks). 46 lines. Roman type 2:115. Rubricated in alternate red and blue, initials with delicate pen-flourishing, book numbers supplied in red in upper margin. FLORAL-PAGE BORDER incorporating 15-line initial I and 9-line initial G, illuminated in gold and colors by a contemporary hand, and 21 other illuminated initials. (Repaired tear on 1/2 touching letters, small marginal repair on 3/1 affecting border, 26/6-7 with small stain in lower margin, some worming catching letters, heaviest at end, occasional mostly marginal spotting, a few book numbers shaved.) 19th-century panelled vellum gilt over wooden boards, morocco lettering-pieces. Provenance: “Pertinet ad locum Crucis Calle Caserte” (inscription on 1/2) — Alexander James Beresford Hope (1820-1887), English politician, author and ecclesiatical historian (gift inscription, dated St. Peter’s Day, 1848, on front flyleaf, presenting the book to) — Rev. E. Coleridge — C.W. Dyson Perrins (booklabels; sold Sotheby’s London, 17 June 1946, lot 30 to Maggs Bros., London, for £300) — Estelle Doheny (morocco bookplate; purchased from Maggs Bros.) — donated to SMS 12 September 1947.

THE FINE DYSON PERRINS COPY. Third (second Roman) edition. After having established a press at the Benedictine monastery at Subiaco, Sweynheym and Pannartz moved their second printing shop to Rome in 1467 at the Palazzo Massimo, most likely at the behest of the great humanist, Cardinal Bessarion. Bessarion’s secretary, Giovanni Andrea Bussi, soon became chief editor of the press (and later papal librarian), directing its printing program of humanistic texts. Sweynheym and Pannartz had already printed the first edition of De Civitate Dei at Subiaco in 1467 (Goff A-1230), and again in Rome in 1468 (Goff A-1231).

“Few men have influenced human thought as Augustine did Western religion and philosophy” (DSB). Written as a defence of Christianity against pagan critics who viewed the sack of Rome as punishment for the abandonment of the old gods, Augustine’s magnum opus presented a dialectical view of human history that profoundly marked Western thought. BMC IV, 10 (IC.17149); BSB-Ink. A-854; GW 2876; HC *2049; Pollard Perrins 3 (this copy); Pr 3310; Goff A-1232.