Gaius Julius Caesar (100–44 BC) Commentarii

December 1513

This edition of Caesar’s commentaries, published in December 1513, includes two introductory letters from Aldus to his readers. In the first, he explains his decision to publish these texts not only on the basis of their historical importance but also in view of the rigorous elegance of Caesar’s Latin prose, untainted as it is by unnecessary rhetorical pretense. In the second letter, addressed to scholars, Aldus provides descriptions of the woodcut illustrations of towns and, in particular, of the map of Gaul and the colouring of its six different regions (with the red colour possibly printed and the other five colours applied by hand stencil); he also supplies indexes of place-names in both Latin and French vernacular.

The book was intended for an international audience and by the 1520s the present copy was in England, where it was bound. The blind panels of the dark brown calfskin identify its binding as produced for the London bookseller John Reynes, a Dutchman naturalised in 1510 and operating in London until his death in 1544. Its decoration includes a roll with Reynes’s monogram IR between lilies, a falcon, a bee and a dog (now very worn), between two panels, one depicting animals and foliage and the other St John the Baptist, seemingly always used together. J. B. Oldham dated Reynes’s signed roll not earlier than 1520 on account of it been found only on the bindings of books printed after 1520.

Rel.d.51.7, binding

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