Antiquariat Jürgen Dinter

Theophylaktos / Theophylactus

Ἑρμενεία εἰς τὰ τέσσαρα Εὐαγγέλια — Rome 1542


Ἑρμενεία εἰς τὰ τέσσαρα Εὐαγγέλια. — Rome, (Antonio Blado), 1542.

Editio princeps

Folio (304 x 199 mm). *4 α-ω αα-ηη6 θθ4 ιι-ωω Α6: 581 pp., *4 blank. Blado’s device on title-page.

17th century stiff vellum, a few spots and rubbing. A fine piece of Greek printing; with ample margins. – Adams T 594; Hoffmann III2 539; Fumagalli no. 67 („Rara e bella edizione principe“).

Provenances, in manuscript on title-page: 

1. Cl. Puteani, i. e. Claude Dupuy, French humanist and bibliophile, 1545-1594, pupil of Denis Lambin, Turnèbe, and Jacques Cujas.

Claude Dupuy was a humaniste extraordinaire, a magistrate and conseiller in Paris, part of the elite and the owner of one of the greatest libraries in the kingdom. Over his lifetime he assembled manuscripts and printed works, both ancient and modern, with particular attention paid to the texts of antiquity. After his death, an inventory of his library counted over 2,000 works, including 835 printed editions.

On Dupuy and his library see J. Delatour, Les livres de Claude Dupuy. Une bibliothèque humaniste au temps des guerres de religion. Paris 1997. 

2. Ex libris sacerdotum Dna xna [Dominarum christianarum] coll. [collegii] victoriacensis. (Brunet IX 1339a: „Abbaye de S.-Victor de l’ordre de S.-Benoit, à Marseille … Cette abbaye possédait une bibliothèque et des archives de la plus importance …“)

3. Ex libris L.G. Minard

¶ The fine type (20 lines = 97-98 mm) was designed by the famous scholar, copyist and cartographer from Corfu Nikolaos Sophianos and cut by the not less important Stefano Nicolini da Sabbio. 

The Theophylaktos is the second book printed in this Greek I, so called by Layton; after that printing it was used in the first of the four volumes of Eusthatios‘ commentaries on Homer. 

The Theophylaktos is the first book realised in a planned series of sacred Greek texts from the Vatican library. For this Cardinal Marcello Cervini engaged the Roman printer Antonio Blado, who had printed no Greek book before the Theophylaktos and had no Greek type. Blado went to Venice to buy Greek types, and came into contact with Nikolaos and Stefano, who cut the type for Blado, and who joined the printing in Rome. Layton writes that Nikoloas was „in charge of editing the Theophylaktos and the first volume of the Eustathios.“ (Layton p. 42) Since using the large type Greek I became too expensive, Cervini ordered a smaller type, which was cut by Giovanni Onorio da Maglie, and used in the remaining volumes of the Eusthatios amd the following books of Cervini’s project. 

Involved in this project of a Greek press were: „Sophianos as designer of the Greek font and possibly corrector; Basilio Zanchi as chief corretor; Nicolini as master printer or, at the very least, supervisor of type-cutting and (probably with the assistance of Zanchi, Sophianos and later Blado) of the production process; Blado as publisher through his own firm; and Giunta as accountant and agent for distribution.“ (Sachet p. 70).

The press „was finished by the end of 1543 or mid-1544 at the latest … At the end of 1546 … the enterprise was in the red by some 200 scudi. Three-quarters of the print runs remained unsold and there is evidence that Giunta and Blado were only   able to make a disappointing amount of money out of the whole time-consuming operation … After the collapse of the press, the cardinale editore continued to sponsor the publication of Greeks books in Rome during the folowing years.“ (p. 74f.)

On the official role of Cervini’s press Sachet reads: „The most remarkable feature of Cervini’s patronage was its institutional scope. This has been overlooked in previous scholarship … On a public level, Cervini was not merely a patron of printing for his own individual glory, but pursued a programme of publishing books for the good of the Catholic Church, editions which were presented in the prefaces to them as the cultural and instituional initiatives of the pope and the Apostolic Chamber.“ (p. 88)

The Theophylaktos – edited by Fancisco Torres and Guglielmo Sirleto – was printed in 1309 copies, of which 983 remained unsold. It was printed since Theophylaktos‘ „commentaries on the New Testament, written about 1100, are the most important Greek biblical exegesis after the homilies of Chrysostom.“ (p. 84), and since the previuos translations into Latin, especially that of Oecolampad, were, in Cervini’s view, mendacious. In this sense the preface of our editions reads: „praesertim cum in ea, quae in Latinum superioribus annis versa est, multa desint, plura vero perperam legantur …“(f. *ii recto).


E. Layton, The History of a Sixteenth Century Greek Type Revised, in: The Historical Review. I. 2004. pp. 39-50.

Paolo Sachet, Cervini’s Greek Press. In: P. Sachet, Publishing for the Popes. The Roman Curia and the Use of Printing (1527-1555) Leiden 2020, pp. 66-90.