MUSURUS, MARCUS, editor. c.1470-1517.
Etymologicum magnum graecum. Venice: Zacharias Callierges for Nicolaus Blastos & Anna Notaras, July 8, 1499.
Folio (388 x 257 mm). 224 leaves: Alpha10 beta-omega8 2alpha-2gamma8 2delta6. Prefatory poem by Musurus and Johannes Gregoropoulos. Double column, greek type. 23 woodcut headpieces for each section of the alphabet except theta (3 blocks in 12, 10 and 1 impressions), woodcut devices of Blastos and of Kallierges, 10- and 5-line woodcut initials. All woodcuts, headings, brackets, capital to each entry and signatures in first quire printed in red, the red printed before the black. 18th century quarter calf over diced russia, red and tan morocco lettering pieces. Minor stains to top edge of alpha1-2, small brown stain to omicron8, tiny hole to alpha1 affecting 1 letter on verso, intermittent minor foxing to paper edges, light wear to corners and rubbing to spine bands.
Provenance: 16th century ownership inscription of Prospero Podiani (Perugia) on first and second leaves, one or two instances of early Greek marginalia in red.
AN IMPORTANT LANDMARK IN THE HISTORY OF GREEK PRINTING, intended as a guide for readers of Homer.
"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 Etymologicon magnum ... was never carried into execution ... Even if it had been executed under the care of Aldus himself, it would not have been more correctly, or perhaps so beautifully, printed; since, with all his zeal for the cause of literature ... Aldus never produced any thing, for solidity and skill of workmanship, at all comparable with the Ammonius and Simplicius ... the Therapeutica of Galen ... and the Etymologicon 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 III, p 65).
Callierges spent five years developing the Greek type which was first used to print the Etymologicum. In contrast to the Aldine Greek type, it was cast in one piece with its accents. Callierges, Blastos and Musurus were all fellow-Cretans. Anna Notaras was a leading figure among Byzantine expatriates in Venice. Musurus's prefatory poem is one of the most substantial early treatises on the technicalities of type-casting (see Proctor The Printing of Greek in the Fifteenth Century, 1900, pp 120-124). BMC V 580; Goff E112; GW 9426; HC *6691; Pellechet 4629; Proctor 5644.