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Procopii Caesariensis V.I. ANEKDOTA. Arcana historia, qui est liber nonus Historiarum. Ex bibliotheca Vaticana Nicolaus Alemannus protulit, latine reddidit, notis illustravit. Nunc primum in lucem prodit triplici indice locupletata
Lyon, (Lugduni), Sumpt. Andreae Brugiotti Bibliopolae Romani, (colophon at the end: Lugduni, Ex Chalkographeiôi Ioannis Iullieron, 1623), 1623. Small folio. (XII),XXIII,135,142,(XIX),(1 blank) p.; illustrations. Vellum 30.5 cm (Ref: Hoffmann 3,298; Brunet 4,897; Ebert 17998) (Details: Editio princeps. 7 thongs laced through cover; short title in ink on the back; title in red and black; big engraved printer's mark on the title, a radiant sun, motto: 'flammis ipse suis'; woodcut head & tail pieces and initials; some engravings in the text; text printed in 2 columns, Greek with facing translation into Latin; after the text follow 135 p. with historical and text critical observations by Alemannus; at the end the fragments of the Anekdota drawn from the Suda, and 3 indexes) (Condition: Vellum soiled; frontcover slightly curved; front hinge cracking, but strong; right edge of front flyleaf and of the title somewhat thumbed; small inscription on the verso of the front flyleaf) (Note: This is the editio princeps of the 'Secret History', (Anekdota in Greek, or Arcana Historia in Latin) of the Greek historian Procopius, born in Caesarea in Palestine ca. 500 A.D. He was a member of the staff of Belisarius, the most important general of the emperor Justinian. He accompanied him as a kind of confidant on his campaigns against the Persians (531), the Vandals in the North of Africa (533), and in Italy against the Goths (536/50). During these campaigns he probably took down notes, from which he drew later writing his 'De Bellis', i.e the 'History of the wars of Justinian'. This work, consisting of 8 books, is the main source and often the only one for our knowledge of this age of transition. Procopius was an eyewitness of the events, and in his History he displays a 'achtungswerte Wahrheitsliebe'. (Krumbacher, Gesch. der Byz. Lit., p. 233). He made also use of documents and other accounts. The hero of the first 6 books is his general Belisarius. In the 7th book the author describes how his hero Belisarius became gradually a disappointment to him. He also critizes the mismanagement of the finances by the emperor Justinian and his wife the empress Theodora, which is overstretching the resources of the empire. Book 8, described by Procopius as 'poikilè', i.e 'varia' deals with the aftermath of the 3 wars. Nowadays the 'Secret History' is considered to be a separate work of Procopius, whereas Nicolaus Alemannus presents it as the 9th book of the 'History of the wars of Justinian'. In the 'Secret History', which covers the same period als the first 7 books, Procopius changes his tune. From great politics he turns to the ugly politics of court scandal, where the dark side of Justinian is exposed. The book is in fact a libel against the emperor and his wife, and sometimes also against his former hero Belisarius. 'It is a virulent, scurrilous, and often scabrous attack upon the whole policy of Justinian, who is blamed for everything from barbarian invasions and financial insolvency to floods and earthquakes' (OCD, 2nd ed. p. 881). The main argument is that Justinian and Theodora have ruined the empire, because of their wars and mismanagement. The difference between the rational 'History of the wars of Justinian' and this demonizing libel, full of gossip and pornographic defilement has led historians to believe that this product of hate and revenge was not written by the 'honest' historian Procopius. Nowadays it is generally accepted that Procopius is the author. (OCD s.v. Procopius, NP s.v. Prokopios). Procopius' work is written in a clear and classicizing style, with many echoes of earlier historians, especially Thucydides, and it became an example for later byzantine historians. Not much is known about the editor Nicolaus Alemannus. He was Librarian of the Bibliotheca Vaticana, and Ostrogorsky calls him a Greek. He follows here 'Zedlers Grosses vollständiges Universallexicon', vol. 1, col. 1121. Zedler is however more cautious, because Alemannus, or, he says, Alamannus 'soll nach der meisten Meynung von Geburth ein Grieche gewesen seyn'. Alemannus was an exponent of the first phase of the renewed scientific interest in byzantine culture of European Humanism at the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th century. This phase is characterized by the editing and translation into Latin of byzantine sources. (G. Ostrogorsky, Gesch. des Byz. Staates, München 1963, p. 2) In his 'Ad Lectorem' Alemannus declares that 2 manuscripts of this not yet published work of Procopius were found hidden in some corner of the Vatican Library, both in bad condition. One other of the 'Arcana Historia', once brought by Catharina de Medici to France, was nowhere to be found, he tells, and another was lost during a shipwreck. He continues that copies of the first 8 books circulated during Procopius' lifetime, and that he offered a copy to Justinian himself. He had to keep his manuscript of the 'Arcana Historia' hidden as long as the emperor was alive. Alemannus confesses that he left out the less sophisticated (he means saucy) passages that didnot suit the 'modestia' and 'gravitas' of his time. The worth of the commentary of Alemannus was acknowledged by its incorporation two hundred years later in Niebuhrs Bonner Corpus (Corpus scriptorum historiae Byzantinae, CSHB, 1828-1897) (Collation: á-6, é-4, í-4, ó-4; A - R-4, a - u-4) (Photographs on request)
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Last Found On: 2014-12-15           Check availability:      Biblio    


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