Editio princeps

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In classical scholarship, the editio princeps (plural: editiones principes) of a work is the first printed edition of the work, that previously had existed only in manuscripts, which could be circulated only after being copied by hand.

For example, the editio princeps of Homer is that of Demetrius Chalcondyles, now thought to be from 1488. The most important texts of classical Greek and Roman authors were for the most part produced in editiones principes in the years from 1465 to 1525, following the invention of the printing press around 1440.[1][2]

In some cases there were possibilities of partial publication, of publication first in translation (for example from Greek to Latin), and of a usage that simply equates with first edition. For a work with several strands of manuscript tradition that have diverged, such as Piers Plowman, editio princeps is a less meaningful concept.

The term has long been extended by scholars to works not part of the Ancient Greek and Latin literatures. It is also used for legal works, and other significant documents.

For full lists of literature works, see:

Notable works[edit]

The following is a list of notable literature works.

Date Author, Work Printer Location Comment
c. 1455 Biblia Vulgata Johannes Gutenberg Mainz The 4th century translation of the Bible, two editions: 42 line and 36 line, see Gutenberg Bible.
1465[3] Cicero, De Oratore[3] Conradus Sweynheym and Arnoldus Pannartz[3] Subiaco[3] This edition was published without date but it is believed to be before September 1465.[3]
1465–1470[4] Augustinus, Confessiones[4] Johannes Mentelin[5] Strasbourg[4] The second edition came out in Milan in 1475, followed by editions in 1482 and 1483. Other two incunable editions came from Strasbourg in 1489 and 1491, but the book was not separately reprinted until 1531.[6]
1467[7] Augustinus, De Civitate Dei[7] Conradus Sweynheym and Arnoldus Pannartz[8] Subiaco[7] The following year Johannes Mentelin printed in Strasbourg another edition; it offered the earliest textual commentary, by Thomas Valois and Nicholas Trivet.[7] For the next two centuries, the De Civitate was the most often printed of all Augustine's works; 17 editions appeared in the 15th century and eight in the 16th century.[6]
1469[9][10] Livius[9] Conradus Sweynheym and Arnoldus Pannartz[9] Rome[9] Edited by Joannes Andreas de Buxis.[11] The Rome edition included only Books 1–10, 21–32, 34–39 and a portion of 40. In a 1518 Mainz edition, the rest of Book 40 and part of 33 were published, while in a 1531 Basel edition, Books 41-45 were published, edited by Simon Grynaeus. He had discovered the only surviving manuscript of the fifth decade in 1527 while searching in the Lorsch Abbey in Germany. In 1616 the remaining part of Book 33 was published in Rome, by which all extant Livy had reached print.[10][12]
1469[14][15][16] Vergilius[11] Conradus Sweynheym and Arnoldus Pannartz[11] Rome[14] Edited by Joannes Andreas de Buxis.[11] Together with the three standard Virgilian works, Busi included the Appendix Vergiliana and Donatus' Vita Vergilii. He also included the Priapeia, then attributed to Virgil.[15][16]
Appendix Vergiliana[15]
Aelius Donatus, Vita Vergilii[15]
1469[17] Julius Caesar[11][17] Conradus Sweynheym and Arnoldus Pannartz[11] Rome[17] Edited by Joannes Andreas de Buxis.[11]
1469[18] Plinius Maior[18] Johannes de Spira[18] Venice[18]
1469[19] Aulus Gellius[11][19] Conradus Sweynheym and Arnoldus Pannartz[11] Rome[11] Edited by Joannes Andreas de Buxis[11][19]
1470[20] Sallustius, Bellum Catilinae and Bellum Iugurthinum[21] Vindelinus de Spira[20][21] Venice[20] In the same year an edition of Sallust was also printed in Paris.[20]
1470[22] Suetonius, De Vita Caesarum[23] Johannes Philippus de Lignamine[23] Rome[22] Edited by Johannes Antonius Campanus.[24]
c. 1470[25][26] Tacitus, Historiae, Annales, Germania and Dialogus[25] Vindelinus de Spira[26] Venice[26] This edition only has books 11–16 of the Annales. Books 1–6 were rediscovered in 1508 in the Corvey Abbey (now in Germany) and brought to Rome. There they were printed by Étienne Guillery in 1515 together with the other books of the Annales while the edition was prepared by Filippo Beroaldo.[25][27][28]
1471[29] Ovidius[29] Baldassarre Azzoguidi[30] Bologna[29] Edited by Franciscus Puteolanus. There is some dispute regarding the possibility it may have been preceded by the Roman edition printed by Sweynheym and Pannartz, which is without date but thought to be also from 1471.[11][29][30]
c. 1471[31] Boethius, De Consolatione Philosophiae[31] Hans Glim[31] Savigliano[31] Undated, others have suggested the incunable's date to be 1473 or 1474. This would probably make the editio princeps the lavish edition that came out in Nuremberg in 1473 from Anton Koberger's press, containg a commentary traditionally attributed to Thomas of Aquin and a German translation.[32]
1471–1472[33] Varro, De lingua latina[34] Georgius Lauer[34] Rome[34][33] Edited by Julius Pomponius Laetus[34]
1472[35] Plautus[35] Johannes de Colonia[36]-1470[37] Venice[35] Edited by Georgius Merula basing himself on the Codex Ursinianus. With a dedication to Iacopo Zeno, bishop of Padua.[35][38]
1472[39][40] Macrobius, In Somnium Scipionis[39] and Saturnalia[40] Nicolaus Jenson[39] Venice[39]
c. 1475[41] Beda, Historia Ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum[41] Heinrich Eggestein[42][43] Strasbourg[41] The edition is undated, but it is agreed to have been printed between 1474 and 1482. It was followed in the same town in 1500 by a second edition, this time bounded with a Latin translation of Eusebius' Historia Ecclesiastica.[41]
1475[44][45] Seneca Philosophus, Dialogi, De beneficiis, De Clementia and Epistulae morales ad Lucilium[44] Matthias Moravus[46] Naples[44] The first complete edition of Seneca's philosophical works. Due to a confusion between the son and the father the volume also includes Seneca the Elder's widely known epitomized version composed of excerpts from his Suasoriae et Controversiae; the complete surviving text was printed in 1490 in Venice by Bernardinus de Cremona together with the younger Seneca. Also in the edition is Publilius Syrus, whose Sententiae are in the so-called Proverbia Senecae. The mistake was corrected in 1514 by Erasmus when the latter published in Southwark in 1514 an edition of Publilius that is generally considered to be the real editio princeps. Erasmus was followed in Leipzig in 1550 by Georg Fabricius, who also added twenty new sentences to the print.[47][44][48][49]
Seneca Rhetor[47]
Publilius Syrus[50]
1475[51][52] Historia Augusta[51] Philippus de Lavagna[53] Milan[52] Edited by Bonus Accursius.[53]
1510[54] Quintus Aurelius Symmachus, Epistulae and Relationes[54] Johann Schott[54] Strasbourg[54]
1512[55][56] Gregorius Turonensis, Historia Francorum and De Gloria Confessorum[55] Jodocus Badius Ascensius[55] Paris[55]
Ado Viennensis, Chronicon[55]
1478[57]-1479[58] Aesopus, Fabulae[53][57] B. & J. A. de Honate[53] Milan[53] Edited by Bonus Accursius. Undated, the book contained also a Latin translation by Ranuccio Tettalo. These 127 fables are known as the Collectio Accursiana, the newest of the three recensions that form the Greek Aesopica. The oldest Greek recension is the Collectio Augustana, in 231 fables, that was published only in 1812 by Johann Gottlob Theaenus Schneider in Breslau. The last recension is the Collectio Vindobonensis, made of 130 fables, that was first edited in 1776 by Thomas Tyrwhitt.[59][58][60][61] Concerning The Aesop Romance, of it also three recensions exist: the one printed in this edition is the Vita Accursiana, while the second to be printed was in 1845 the Vita Westermanniana, edited in Braunschweig by Anton Westermann. The Last recension to be printed was the Vita Perriana, edited in 1952 in Urbana by Ben Edwin Perry.[53][62][63][64]
Vita Aesopi[53][62]
c. 1482[57] Hesiodus, Opera et dies[53][57] B. & J. A. de Honate[53] Milan[53] Edited by Bonus Accursius.[53] Undated, only Theocritus' first 18 idylls are contained in this edition.[57] A wider arrange of idylls appeared in the 1495–1496 Aldine Theocritus which had idylls I-XXIII.[65] A further amount of yet unpublished idylls were printed in Rome together with their old scholia by Zacharias Calliergis in his 1516 edition of Theocritus.[66]
Theocritus, Idyllia[53][57]
1488–1489[67] Homerus, Ilias and Odyssea[67] Florence[67] Edited by Demetrius Chalcondyles, the book was printed with the help of Demetrius Damilas [fr] that reelaborated the Greek types he had previously used in Milan. The editorial project was completed thanks to the financial support of Giovanni Acciaiuoli [it] and the patronage of Neri and Bernardo de' Nerli [it] together with, the latter also author of an opening dedication to Piero de' Medici. The edition includes also the previously printed Batrachomyomachia. As for the typography the volume has traditionally been attributed to the prolific printer Bartolomeo de' Libri [de], attribution denied by recent scholarship. The issue thus remains unresolved.[67][68][69]
Hymni Homerici[67]
Ps.-Herodotus, De vita Homeri[70]
Ps.-Plutarch, De vita et poesi Homeri[70]
Dio Cocceianus, De Homero[70]
c. 1494[71] Euripides,[72] Medea, Hippolytus, Alcestis and Andromache[73] Laurentius de Alopa[72] Florence[72] Edited by Janus Lascaris. The volume, undated, was printed sometime before June 18, 1494.[72] The typographic font was, as usual with Lascaris, only made of capital letters.[71]
1495–1498[74][75] Aristoteles[74] Aldus Manutius[74] Venice[76] An edition in five volumes in folio of the complete works of Aristotle. The first volume was printed in November 1495 while the last came out in 1498. Theophrastus' works came out together in 1497.[76] Notably absent in this edition of Aristotle's works are the Rhetorica and the Poetica and also the Rhetorica ad Alexandrum.[77][78] Concerning the Problemata, they came out in 1497 in its shorter recension in two books; the longer recension in four books came out in Paris in 1857 due to Hermann Usener.[79] As for Theophrastus, all his published works came out in 1497 dispersed through the second, third and fourth volumes.[75]
Theophrastus, De signis, De causis plantarum, De historia plantarum, De lapidibus, De igne, De odoribus, De ventis, De lassitudine, De vertigine, De sudore, Metaphysica, De piscibus in sicco degentibus[75][80][81]
Porphyrius,[74] Isagoge[82]
Philo, De mundo[83]
Ps.-Alexander Aphrodisiensis, Problemata[84][79]
Diogenes Laërtius, Vita Aristotelis and Vita Theophrasti[85]
1499[67] Suda[67] I. Bissolus & B. Mangius[86] Milan[67] Edited by Demetrius Chalcondyles.[67]
1502[87] Sophocles[87] Aldus Manutius[87] Venice[87]
1502[88] Thucydides, Historiae[88] Aldus Manutius[88] Venice[88]
Dionysius Halicarnasseus, Epistola ad Ammaeum II[89]
1502[90] Herodotus, Historiae[90] Aldus Manutius[90] Venice[90]
1502[91] Stephanus Byzantinus, Ethnica[91] Aldus Manutius[91] Venice[91]
1503[73] Euripides[73] Aldus Manutius[73] Venice This edition included all of the dramatist's plays except for Electra. Generally thought to have been edited by Marcus Musurus.[73]
1503[92] Xenophon, Hellenica[92] Aldus Manutius[92] Venice[92]
1504[93] Demosthenes[93] Aldus Manutius[93] Venice[93]
1515[94] Aristophanes, Lysistrata and Thesmophoriazusae[94] Philippus Junta[94] Florence[94] First complete edition of all eleven Aristophanes' plays.[94]
1516[95][96] Strabo, Geographica[95][96] Aldine Press[96] Venice[95][96]
1516[97] Pausanias, Graeciae descriptio[97] Aldine Press[97] Venice[97] Edited by Marcus Musurus.[98]
1517[99] Plutarch, Vitae Parallelae[99] Philippus Junta[99] Florence[99]
1518[100] Aeschylus[100] Aldine Press[100] Venice[100] Edited by Franciscus Asulanus [it]. This edition contains only 6 of Aeschylus' 7 surviving tragedies: missing is the Choephoroe. This is because the manuscripts had fused Agamemnon and Choephoroe, omitting lines 311-1066 of Agamemnon, a mistake that was corrected for the first time in 1552 in the Venetian edition edited by Franciscus Robortellus. The separation was not fully successful as the text was not correctly divided, leaving it to the 1557 Paris edition by Petrus Victorius, printed with an appendix by Henricus Stephanus, to finally obtain an adequate edition of Aeschylus' plays.[100][101][102]
1530[103] Polybius, Historiae[103] Johannes Secerius[104] Hagenau[103] A part of Book VI had been already printed in Venice in 1529 by Johannes Antonio de Sabio [de], edited by Janus Lascaris with his Latin translation incorporated. The 1530 edition, edited by Vincentius Obsopoeus, only contained Books I–V together with their Latin translation made by Nicolaus Perottus. What survived of the rest of Polybius thanks to the excerpta antiqua of the other Books was first printed by Joannes Hervagius in Basel in 1549 together with a Latin translation by Wolfgang Musculus. Further Polybian excerpts came to light thanks to Fulvius Ursinus that in Antwerp in 1582 published Constantinus Porphyrogenitus' Excerpta de legationibus. All this additional material was incorporated in Isaac Casaubon's 1609 Polybius Paris edition.[103][105][106][107][108]
1533[96] Ptolemaeus, Geographia[96] Hieronymus Frobenius[96] Basel[96]
1539[97] Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca historica[109] Johannes Oporinus[109] Basel[109] Edited by Vincentius Obsopoeus. Only books XVI–XX were printed.[103] In 1559 Henricus Stephanus printed in Geneva all complete surviving books, that is I–V and XI–XX. To this Stephanus also added a summary left by Photius of the lost books.[110]
1544[111] Archimedes[111] Joannes Hervagius[112] Basel[111][112] Edited by Thomas Gechauff Venatorius.[112]
1544[113] Flavius Josephus[113][114] Hieronymus Frobenius & Nicolaus Episcopius[113] Basel[113] Edited by Arnoldus Arlenius. The volume also contained the 4 Maccabees, then attributed to Josephus.[114][115]
1548[116] Cassius Dio[116] Robertus Stephanus[116] Paris[116] Only contains Books 23 and 36–58.[116]
1551[84] Appianus[84] C. Stephanus[84] Paris[84]
1557[117] Joannes Zonaras, Annales[117] Johannes Oporinus[118] Basel[118] Edited by Hieronymus Wolfius.[117]
1559[119] Marcus Aurelius, Meditationes[119] Andreas Gesner[119] Zürich[119] Edited by Guilielmus Xylander. Both texts are translated in Latin, the Meditationes by Xylander. He also added some passages on evidence regarding Marcus Aurelius taken from the Suda and from Aurelius Victor.[119]
1610[120] Anna Comnena, Alexias[120] Ad insigne pinus[120] Augsburg[120] Edited by David Hoeschelius.[120]


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