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First edition, edited by Marcus Musurus. A landmark in the history of Greek printing.
“It is justly said by De Bure, ‘that the present is one of the most magnificent publications which ever issued from the press’. Whether the appearance of it damped the ardour, or rendered useless, the exertions of Aldus, we cannot perhaps accurately determine; but it is certain that his promise of publishing the ‘Etymologicum Magnum’… was never carried into execution…Even if it had been executed under the care of Aldus himself, it could not have been more correctly and perhaps so beautifully, printed; since, with all his zeal for the cause of literature… Aldus never produced anything, for solidity and skill of workmanship, at all comparable with the Ammonius and Simplicius, the Therapeutica of Galen and the Etymologicum Magnum; each printed by Callierges in the XVth century. The frequent and successful introduction of the red letter gives a splendour as well as peculiarity to the efforts of the printer whose work is now under consideration” (Dibdin, Bibliotheca Spenceriana).
Callierges spent five years developing the Greek type which was first used to print the Etymologicum. It differed from the Aldine Greek type, which according to Nicolas Barker (Aldus Manutius and the development of Greek Script and Type, 1985) was modelled on the handwriting of Immanuel Rhusotas, in that it was cast in one piece with its accents, whereas the Aldine type needed separate accentuation. Callierges printed for the bookseller Nicolaus Blastos, a wealthy fellow cretan, who had already obtained in 1498 a privilege for all books printed with Callierges’s type.
Musurus’s elegiac poem on the first page is one of the earliest and most important documents about the technicalities of type-casting.(cf Proctor, The Printing of Greek in the Fifteenth century, Oxford, 1900, pp.120-124).
A very fine copy of this marvelous incunable.
Provenance: St Benedict’s Library, Scotland (book plate).