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One of the first small-format editions of a classic textbook on rhetoric, with a message for today

QUINTILIANUS, Marcus Fabius.
[De institutione oratoria].
(Colophon: Florence, Filippo I Giunta, October 1515). Small 8vo (14.5 x 10 cm). With a title-page containing only the author's name, but with the title in the heading to liber I, and Giunti's woodcut device on the verso of the otherwise blank final leaf. Set entirely in an Aldine-style italic (with upright capitals). Vellum (ca. 1850?).
€ 3,950
The first and only Giunta edition (one of the first in small format), in the original Latin, of the standard classical textbook on oratory and rhetoric by Quintilian (ca. 35-ca. 95/100 AD), in many respects the greatest orator between Cicero and Quintilian's own student Pliny the younger. It is refreshing today for its emphasis on the importance of the speaker's integrity, arguing that to speak well for a good cause requires character and morality. The Cicero-Quintilian-Pliny school was critical of orators they saw as promoting causes using clever tricks or florid language, or by appealing to the listener's worst qualities. Quintilian's Institutiones oratoriae, his only surviving work, also serves as one of our most important sources of information about education and culture in Roman antiquity. It not only teaches the theory and practice of rhetoric in speaking and writing, but also discusses the education and life-long development that an orator needs. Quintilian also advises the reader on the best authors on the subject, providing a critical examination of the history of rhetoric. Though contemporaries recognized Quintilian's quality and influence, the modern world knew his work only from fragments and by reputation until Poggio found a complete manuscript of the Oratoria in 1416.
With some transparent stains in the upper outside corner, barely visible after the first 3 leaves, and occasional minor foxing or browning, also mostly in the first few leaves, but otherwise in very good condition and including the final leaf with only Giunta's woodcut device, often lacking. The binding is rubbed and slightly loose, with the front hinge split, but the bookblock remains structurally sound.
Adams Q53; BMC STC Italian, p. 546; Dibdin, Bibliogr. Decameron, p. 275; USTC 851766.
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