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THUCYDIDES. ΘΟΥΚΥΔΙΔΗΣ ΜΕΤΑ ΣΧΟΛΙΩΝ ΓΑΛΑΙΩΝ ΚΑΙ ΓΑΝΥ ΩΦΕΛΙΜΩΝ [History of the Peloponnesian War] […]. Thucydides cum scholiis et antiquis utilibus sine quibus auctor intellectu multum est difficilis. Accessit praeterea diligentia Joachimi Camerarii, in castigando tum textu, tum commentariis una cum annotationibus eius. Stephanus Schirotius Pannonius Lectori

Basileae, ex officina Hervagiana, 1540

TM 165

In-folio, two parts in one volume, lacking quire in prefatory pages (collation: α*6, β [missing here], a –z6, A-D6, E8, F10; [6] ff. – 235 pp. – [1] blank – 177 (i.e. 128) pp. (with pp. 126-127 misnumbered) – [2] ff.), edition preceded and followed by [1] paper flyleaf, text printed in Latin and Greek, no printer’s device on title-page, printer’s device on leaf F10v, historiated and ornamental initials throughout. Bound in a contemporary Oxford binding [Garbrand Harks], dated [1537], blind-stamped brown calf over pasteboards, covers paneled in blind with filets and repeated use of ornamental roll dated 1537, large fragments of medieval manuscript used as pastedowns (see identification in section below), red edges (Offset of Greek and Roman capital letters below title [character types?]; spine worn at head and foot with some loss; binding loose; nonetheless in contemporary condition). Dimensions 320 x 215 mm.

This is the third Greek edition of the History of the Peloponnesian War work by “the father of modern history” Thucydides, an important edition established by the noted German humanist Joachim Camerarius based on a manuscript found in Constantinople. The present copy is of special interest because it survives in a fine contemporary dated Oxford binding with fresh twelfth-century illuminated manuscript pastedowns—a common practice of Oxford binders—and it bears witness to a binder’s error in the omission of the second quire, presenting prefatory matter.


1. Published in Basel, by Johann Herwagen, a Basel citizen since 1528.

2. Bound in Oxford, shortly after (see section on binding below), by Garbrand Harks, bookbinder. Interestingly, the flyleaves in this exemplar present watermarks close to Briquet 11369-11370, all from Holland (Southern Holland, 1533; Utrecht, 1541; Dordrecht, 1545): the edition likely transited through Holland, before exportation towards England, where it received its binding.

3. United Kingdom, from the library of James Stevens Cox (1910-1997). For a biography of J. Stevens Cox, see Maggs, Catalogue 1350 (2003), where he is characterized by Robert Harding as “a bibliophile and antiquary by inclination, an all-round eccentric by nature, and, by turns, a hairdresser, antiquarian bookseller and finally, publisher by profession.”


f. a*1[Title-page]: ΘΟΥΚΥΔΙΔΗΣ ΜΕΤΑ ΣΧΟΛΙΩΝ ΓΑΛΑΙΩΝ ΚΑΙ ΓΑΝΥ ΩΦΕΛΙΜΩΝ […].Thucydides cum scholiis et antiquis utilibus sine quibus auctor intellectu multum est difficilis. Accessit praeterea diligentia Joachimi Camerarii, in castigando tum textu, tum commentariis una cum annotationibus eius. Stephanus Schirotius Pannonius Lectori.

ff. a*2-4 [Dedicatory Epistle by Joachim Camerarius to Mauritius von Hutten, bishop of Eichstädt]: AMPLISSIMO DOMINO MAURICIO PRAESULI EYSTATENSI S.D. Cum visum esset hoc loco & de THUCYDIDE, & de bonarum literarum atque studiorum humanitatis cultu… [signed] Vale. III. Cal. Martii. Ioachimus Camerarius Pabergensis;

ff. a*4v-5v [Praise of Thucydides by Aphthonius]: ΑΦΘΟΝΙΟΥ ΣΟΦΙΣΤΟΥ ΕΓΚΟΜΙΟΝΕΙΣ […];

ff. a*5v-6v[Life of Thucydides by Marcellinus etc.]: ΜΑΡΚΕΛΛΙΝΟΥ ΓΕΡΙ ΤΟΥ ΘΟΥΚΥΔΙΔΟΥ ΒΙΟΥ […];

pp. 1-235, [Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War]: ΘΟΥΚΥΔΙΔΟΥ ΞΥΓΓΡΑΦΗΣ πρώτης […];

pp. 1- “177” [sic 128], [Scholia]: incipit, ΣΧΟΛΙΑ ΠΑΛAΙΑ ΚΑΙ ΞΥΝΟΠΠΤΙΚΑ […] explicit, […] ΤΕΛΟΣ ΤΩΝ ΘΟΥΚΥΔΙΔΟΥ ΣΧΟΛΙΩΝ (see Hude, Karl (ed.). Scholia in Thucydidem ad optimos codices collata, Leipzig, Teubner,1927);

f. F9, Signatures and colophon: “Basileae in officina Hervagiana. Anno MDXL“;

f. F10v, Printer’s device.

This is the third Greek edition of Thucydides (460-399 B.C.), History of the Peloponnesian War, written circa 431 B.C., following that of Aldus, Venice, 1502 and Giunta, Florence, 1526 (Graesse, VI, part 2, 148). The text of this edition is based on a manuscript found in Constantinople by Johannes Aretinus and kept in Naples, studied by Joachim Camerarius (see Graesse, VI, pars. 2, p. 148). Joachim Camerarius of Bamberg (1500-1574), a contemporary and friend of Melanchthon, supervised and corrected the present edition. Sandys praises Camerarius as being equal to Melanchthon in his breadth of classical learning and superior to him in critical acumen, holding one of the highest places in German scholarship of the sixteenth century. Joachim Camerarius also referred to as “Praeceptor Germanie” taught Greek at the University of Wittemberg. He was appointed head of the municipal school in Nuremberg by Melanchton and was to become one of the pillars of the revived pedagogical Lutheran network that emphasized the importance of Hebrew and Greek.

Interested in Latin and Greek scholarship, humanists were drawn to Thucydides. Called “the father of modern history,” Thucydides (between 460 and 455 B.C.-400 B.C.) was an ancient Greek historian who authored one book, the History of the Peloponnesian War, which recounts the twenty-seven year war that took place during his lifetime between Sparta and Athens. Thucydides states that his work would be found profitable by “those who desire an exact knowledge of the past as a key to the future, which in all probability will repeat or resemble the past.” Organizing his history chronologically, he describes the human world as produced by men acting with ordinary motives without the intervention of the Gods. His attempt to be objective is evident in his assiduous consultation of written documents and the interviews of participants in the events he records.

First established in Strasburg, the printer Johann Herwagen (1497-1557/1559) married the widow of the deceased printer Forbenius (died 1527) and settled in Basel as of 1528. Erasmus called him “virum bon fidei nec indoctum“ (Heckethorn, p. 117). His device was a three-headed Hermes, for which there is no prototype in classic antiquity, although there may be an allusion in its design to the threefold Hecate (device recorded in Silvestre, Marques typographiques, 1867,: no. 1278; see also Heitz, P. Basler Buchermarken bis zum Anfang des 17. jahrhunderts, 1895, no. 127). Herwagen is known for his high caliber printing and erudite editions of classical and patristic texts in Greek and Latin, and he printed the first editions in Greek of Euclid and Archimedes.

Unlike what occurred in other countries, Greek printing began and developed almost exclusively outside Greece. Printing hardly occurred on Greek soil until a little before the outbreak of the Greek War of Independence in 1821. There was a press established on Mount Athos from which one book--a Psalter printed in 1759--has come down to us. Greek printing in the West was launched in Italy where the Renaissance had generated great interest in Hellenism.

Graesse, VI, pars 2, 148; Adams T 664; BMSTC (German), p. 860; Schweiger, 325; Sandys, II, pp. 265-267; Heckethorn (1897), “John Herwagen,” pp. 117-124.

CONTEMPORARY OXFORD DATED BINDING, attributed to the bookbinder Garbrand Harks, blind-stamped with Roll VII Oldam RC.c (1), in use ca. 1537-1551 and ca. 1565-1575: “In the late 1530s and throughout the 1540s it was part of the group dominated by rolls VII-X, and there is strong evidence to connect these bindings with the operations of Garbrand Harks (as both Ker and Pollard have asserted)“ (Pearson, 2000, p. 66). Our binding presents the same roll as Oldham RC.c (1) (see reproduction in Pearson, 2000, p. 113; and Oldham, 1952, p. 55, pl. LII) but adds a date in the roll, here 1537. The layout pattern for this binding is reproduced in Pearson (2000), diagram B2C. The present Roll VII and associated roll bindings are grouped together in N. Ker, 1954, 301-560.

Garbrand Harks began trading in books in Oxford in the 1530s. The earliest documentary mention seems to be that of 1539, when “Garbarande, bookbinder” is noted, and he appears in several accounts of colleges from the 1540s onwards as a supplier of books. Pearson places Harks death circa 1595 (Pearson, 2000, pp. 132-133).

The question remains as to how a 1540 edition can be bound originally in a 1537 dated binding. The only explanation--other than the fact that this binding might have been used before and ‘recycled’ for the 1540 edition--is that the dated 1537 roll remained in use in the bindery and could have been employed after its date. Thus 1537 is the date of the roll, perhaps not the actual date of execution for this binding, which must have been completed shortly after 1540.

Of special interest are the pastedowns in the present binding. This binding contains fragments from a late twelfth-century illuminated manuscript, likely of English origin, in generally good condition and fully legible. Written in a fine gothic bookhand, its text in on double columns, boasting an elegant parti-colored initial I with foliate motifs in green and purple (initial on verso of lower pastedown), and preserving numerous later (early 15th c.?) marginal annotations. The rubric on the verso of the lower pastedown reads as follows: Explicit tractatus de psalmo quadrag[esi]mo quarto. Incipit tractatus de psalmo [qua]dragesimo qui[nto] ; incipit, “Jam caritati vestre quedam sicut notissima…“. The text can be identified as excerpts from Augustinus, Ennarrationes psalmos, no. 44 and 45 (published in Migne, PL, vol. 36, col. 496-514).

In his study on sixteenth-century Oxford binderies, Pearson (2000) discusses the common use of medieval manuscript fragments as pastedowns in bindings. He provides an impressive list (that completes N. Ker’s seminal study) of the different pastedowns, some of which have been identified and dated. The characteristic use of twelfth- to fourteenth-century medieval fragments is a recurrent feature in these bindings.


Adams, H.M. Catalogue of Books Printed on the Continent of Europe, 1501-1600, in Cambridge Libraries, Cambridge, 1967.

[British Museum]. Short-title catalogue of books printed in the German-speaking countries and German books printed in other countries: from 1455 to 1600, now in the British museum, London, British Museum, 1962 [BMSTC].

Heckethorn, C.W. The Printers of Basle in the XVth and XVIth centuries. Their biographies, printed books and devices, London, 1897.

Ker, N. Fragments of Medieval Manuscripts Used as Pastedowns in Oxford Bindings, Oxford, 1954.

Oldham, J. B. English Blind-Stamped Bindings, Cambridge, 1952.

Pearson, D.R.S. Oxford Bookbinding 1500-1640, including a supplement to Neil Ker's "Fragments of medieval manuscripts used as pastedowns in Oxford bindings", Oxford, Oxford Bibliographical Society, 2000.

Sandys, John Edwin. A History of Classical Scholarship, Cambridge, 1903-1908. Vol. II: From the revival of learning to the end of the XVIIIth century (in Italy, France, England and the Netherlands).

Strassler, Robert B. ed. The Landmark Thucydides: A Comprehensive Guide to the Peloponnesian War, New York, The Free Press, 1996 [revised Richard Crowley edition and translation].

Online resources

Editions and Bibliography on Thucydides, including the Scholia

History of the Peloponnesian War: E-text in English translation

On the Basel, 1540 edition of Thucydides