[Vitae illustrium virorum. Spanish.] La primera [secunda] parte de Plutharco. [Vidas paralelas.]. Plutarch, Alfonso de Palencia, Plutarchus.
[Vitae illustrium virorum. Spanish.] La primera [secunda] parte de Plutharco. [Vidas paralelas.]
[Vitae illustrium virorum. Spanish.] La primera [secunda] parte de Plutharco. [Vidas paralelas.]
[Vitae illustrium virorum. Spanish.] La primera [secunda] parte de Plutharco. [Vidas paralelas.]
[Vitae illustrium virorum. Spanish.] La primera [secunda] parte de Plutharco. [Vidas paralelas.]
[Vitae illustrium virorum. Spanish.] La primera [secunda] parte de Plutharco. [Vidas paralelas.]
[Vitae illustrium virorum. Spanish.] La primera [secunda] parte de Plutharco. [Vidas paralelas.]
[Vitae illustrium virorum. Spanish.] La primera [secunda] parte de Plutharco. [Vidas paralelas.]
[Vitae illustrium virorum. Spanish.] La primera [secunda] parte de Plutharco. [Vidas paralelas.]
[Vitae illustrium virorum. Spanish.] La primera [secunda] parte de Plutharco. [Vidas paralelas.]
[Vitae illustrium virorum. Spanish.] La primera [secunda] parte de Plutharco. [Vidas paralelas.]
The First Complete Edition of Parallel Lives in a Vernacular

[Vitae illustrium virorum. Spanish.] La primera [secunda] parte de Plutharco. [Vidas paralelas.]

[Sevilla (Seville)]: [Cuatro Compañeros Alemanes] [Paulus de Colonia, Johann Pegnitzer, Magnus Herbst and Thomas Glockner], 2 July, 1491. First edition. Imprint from colophon of the second volume. Text set in tortis type, in two columns, 48–50 lines. Heading to each life printed in red. Foliated in Arabic numerals. In two volumes. Bound into sixteenth-century limp vellum. Author’s name and volume number written in ink on the fore-edges in ornamented shields. Collation: a–z⁸ aa–xx7; A–Z⁸ AA–XX7. ff. 351; 351. The fastener straps are missing on both volumes. Some of the thongs are torn at the joint. Later endpapers. Title pages restored. The last blank leaves are not presented. Some headlines are shaved. With contemporary and later annotations throughout in ink, by at least four different hands, the notes are in Spanish. Vol. 1.: Bibliographical notes in ink by a later hand on the title page. Undecipherable note or name on the second leaf at the initial. A light brown stain at the gutter affecting the first and the last quires (a–e; oo–xx7), a water stain at the lower edge, with altering intensity, sporadic foxing, light stains, and discoloration throughout the volume. Two leaves in quire b are firmed at the gutter with paper band, old restoration of a tear to d2. Few leaves are torn, affecting only the margins (m2, p5–7, tt5). Brown stain and inkblot on a few leaves with no effect on legibility. Small wormholes at the gutter, visible in the first quire, and quires d–e, another between mm4 to the end of the volume. Vol. 2.: Undecipherable note or name on the second leaf at the initial. A distinct brown stain at the gutter on h3–6. S6, CC5, DD7, MM1, are torn at the edge, with no affect on the print space. Small wax-blots at the upper edge of x2. Inkblots on y4v (blurred), and on GG4r which ghosts to the verso. A marginal note inked out on RR8v, the ink damaged the paper, but it does not affect the print space, the ink ghosts through the subsequent two leaves. Water stains at the edges with altering intensity, sporadic foxing, light stains, and discoloration throughout the volume. Wormholes at margins (a2–b4, v3–DD; MM6–NN8; OO6–VV8; RR–VV) and a tiny hole in the print space between VV6–XX7. Overall both volumes are in very good condition.

The first complete edition of Plutarch’s Parallel Lives in any vernacular language.

Plutarch’s Parallel Lives is one of the earliest classic texts printed in Spanish, and it is among the first volumes of any translations to be published in this language (Hirsch, 1987. p. 294–5.). The printers of the book, Paulus de Colonia, Johann Pegnitzer, Magnus Herbst and Thomas Glockner, the Cuatro Compañeros Alemanes (Four German Friends) arrived in Seville in 1490, at the request of Queen Isabella, who felt the need to have printers who specialized in producing academic textbooks (Restrepo, 2018). Not much is known about their former activities, however, before establishing themselves in Seville, they spent time in Venice, where they purchased their Venetian typeface. The consortium of Compañeros Alemanes became one of the most productive and important printing workshops in Spain until 1503 when it was dissolved.

Parallel Lives became popular in Renaissance culture in the 15th century. Its earliest translation into any vernacular language was produced by the Aragonese nobleman, Juan Fernández de Heredia, Grand Master of the Knights Hospitaller of St John of Rhodes in the late 14th century, which is considered the foundation of Plutarch’s popularity in the Iberian Peninsula (Pérez Jiménez, 2019). 

The present text is the first Spanish translation, by the Castilian humanist historiographer, secretary, royal adviser, and chronicler Alfonso Fernández de Palencia (1423–1492). Palencia’s translation was based on the editions of a Latin translation of the Vitae, which were printed in Rome in 1470, and a revised edition in 1478. The work is dedicated to Don Rodrigo Ponce de León, Duke of Cádiz, one of the Castilian military leaders in the conquest of Granada. The first volume contains thirty biographies, the second twenty-five, among them those, by Italian humanists, which were included into the aforementioned Latin editions (i.e. lives of Hannibal, Scipio Africanus, and Carolus Magnus by Donatus Acciaiolus, of Plato by Guarinus Veronensis and at the end, De Historia Romana by Sextus Rufus).

Palencia’s translation is the first complete translation of Parallel Lives to be published in any vernacular language (the 1482 Italian edition of Aquila is only the first part of the book) and considered as one of the most monumental printed works of the incunable era in Spain.

Scarce on the market. Rarebookhub.com reveals only two records of complete copies at auctions (Sotheby’s 1961; Hartung, 2005), besides those only an incomplete second volume appeared on sales (Sotheby’s 1974 and 1980–2).

ISTC ip00837000; Hain 13133; Haebler 550; Vindel V, 85: 24; Goff P 837; IGI 7927; IBE 4699

Bibl.: Allés-Torrent, S. (2010): The Vita Caroli Magni of Donato Acciaiuoli, Translated by Alfonso de Palencia (1491). In: Taylor, B.; Coroleu, A. (ed.): Humanism and Christian Letters in Early Modern Iberia (1480–1630). Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars, 2010. pp. 61–74.; Hirsch, R. (1987): Classics in the Vulgar Tongues Printed during the Initial Fifty Years, 1471–1520. In: The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 81(3), 249-337. Retrieved April 28, 2020, from www.jstor.org/stable/24303636; Restrepo, M. (2018): German-Speaking Printers and the Development of Music Printing in Spain (1485–1505). In: Lindmayr-Brandl, A. (Ed.), Giselbrecht, E. (Ed.), McDonald, G. (Ed.). (2018). Early Music Printing in German-Speaking Lands. London: Routledge, https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315281452; Pérez Jiménez, A. (2019). "Plutarch’s Fortune in Spain". In Plutarch’s Fortune in Spain. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill. doi: https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004409446_038

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Price: €65,000.00