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Classic erotic poems, with the first edition of the commentaries by a renowned homosexual scholar

CATULLUS, Gaius Valerius and Marc-Antoine MURET.
[Carmina]. Catullus, et in eum commentarius M. Antonii Mureti.
Venice, Paulus Manutius, 1554. 8vo. With Aldus's woodcut device on the title-page, repeated on the verso of the otherwise blank final leaf, and spaces with guide letters left for 2 5-line and about 60 3-line manuscript initials (not filled in). Set in an Aldine italic (with upright capitals) with occasional words (mostly names) in roman and frequent passages in Greek. Gold-tooled mottled calf (ca. 1700).
€ 3,500
First edition to include Muret's important and influential commentaries, of the poems of the passionate (if self-centred) Roman poet Catullus (84-ca. 54 BCE), often given the collective title Carmina. Both the poems and the commentaries appear here in the original Latin. Poems 18 and 19 are addressed to the fertility god Pirapus, best known for his enormous perpetual erection, and poem 20 is also a Priapeia. Many are addressed to "Lesbia", whom Catullus passionately loved. He gave her this pseudonym in allusion to the Greek love poems of Sappho from the Island of Lesbos, which influenced him strongly. She is generally identified as Clodia, the wife of a Roman nobleman. Catullus was one of her several lovers and he names and rails against some of the others. While Catullus's greatest passions were heterosexual, poems 48, 50 and 99 express romantic and sexual interests in men. In his poems he is quick to attack others, both politically and personally, and after he fell out with two male friends he wrote poem 16, threatening to sexually abuse them.
The French humanist Marc-Antoine Muret (1526-1585), recognised as a brilliant scholar in his teens, taught at Paris from 1551, when he published his first book there. Accused of being a Huguenot and a homosexual, he had to flee Paris in late 1553 but Adus Manutius's son Paulus, who had taken charge of the family's Venice printing office, offered him shelter. The present book was Muret's first publication in Venice.
With minor damage to the lower outside corner of the first few leaves, not approaching the text, but still in very good condition. The hinges are slightly worn and the spine label has a small chip, but the binding is otherwise also very good.
Adams C1145; EDIT 16, 10364; Gay & Lemonnyer I, col. 498; Renouard 162; Marilyn Skinner, Companion to Catullus, passim; USTC 821188.
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Early printing & manuscripts  >  Art History & Literature
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Literature & linguistics  >  Greek & Roman Classics