De quibusdam locis obscuris.

Venice, Bernardino Benagli, [n. d., but c. 1494.]

4to, ff. [24]; roman letter, spaces and guide-letters for initials; a few contemporary marginal annotations (some slightly shaved); some very light waterstaining in inner margins, occasional light soiling, but a good copy in modern calf-backed boards.


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Editio princeps, indeed the only attested edition, of this rare incunable dealing with topics of classical philology and orthography.

Laurentius Abstemius, the Latinized version of the name Bevilacqua, was a grammarian and man of letters active in Urbino. He held the prestigious posts of tutor and then, from 1476, librarian to Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, whose humanistic library – celebrated in the dedicatory preface to our work – was among the most notable of the Italian Renaissance. It was afterwards, at the Malatesta court of Rimini, that Abstemius found the leisure to begin his creative authorial activity and it was there that he conceived this undated work, a dialogue offering an interpretation of obscure passages in Ovid’s Ibis (views which subsequently found their way into the best editions of Ovid), an interpretation of a passage in Valerius Maximus, and a set of innovative Latin orthographic rules which would later be taken up by Jan Gruter (Lampas, sive fax artium liberalium, vol. I, Frankfurt, 1608).

Abstemius’s productive period culminated in the publication of Aesopian-style (but original) fables, which were printed for the first time alongside Lorenzo Valla’s Latin version of thirty fables by Aesop in 1495.

HC 28; BMC V 375; Goff A-13; GW 129. ISTC records two copies in the UK (British Library and Trinity College, Cambridge) and four in the US (Columbia, Harvard, Yale, and the Gordan Collection in New York).