Paris, Vincent Sertenas, 1559.
Folio [315 x 203 mm] of (4) ll., 123, (1). Elegant wood-mark of the printer on the title and on the recto of the last leaf, trace of an old stamp on the title, small wormhole on the blank margin not affecting the text. Full granite-like light-brown calf, triple blind-stamped fillet on the covers, spine ribbed and decorated, red edges. Binding from the first half of the 18th century.
First edition of the second French translation by Jacques Amyot “largely improved” (Brunet) compared to the first version, of the most typical of Greek novels. Brunet, III, 88; Mortimer-Harvard, French Sixteenth Century Books, n°271.
In this new French version, the erudite philologist Amyot (1513-1593) “as he had procured himself a manuscript of this novel, much more accurate than the one he had made his first version from, published this one, largely improved. It was after this edition that were made the subsequent reprints published in 12mo format in Paris or elsewhere”. (Brunet).
“This 1559 edition was revised by Amyot on the basis of a manuscript which he discovered at Rome after his translation was completed […] The narrative technique of Heliodorus was widely imitated in French romance literature” (Harvard).
This tale of the loves of Theagenes and Chariclea was composed in the 3rd century by Heliodorus of Esmesa, bishop of Tricca in Thessaly.
“In Delphi, lives Chariclea, a splendid young lady whose origin is mysterious. During a celebration, she meets a prince from Thessaly, Theagenes, and for the two young people it was love at first sight. Helped and accompanied by Calasiris, an Egyptian priest in Delphi, the two lovers run away towards Egypt, after having sworn an eternal and mutual love and having committed to remain chaste until the moment when they will be able to celebrate their legitimate wedding. The novel is composed of the innumerable adventures the two betrothed live, before their wedding”.
“The success of this book has been very important, not only during the Byzantine Middle-Ages, but also in a more modern time. It was for example imitated by le Tasse when he drafted the character of Clorinde, and by Cervantes in his Works of Persiles and Sigismunda. In the 15th century, in France, Heliodorus had everyone’s favor and he had a certain influence on the protection of the novels of this time” (T.F., Les Belles Lettres, 1943).
A beautiful copy preserved in its elegant 18th century binding.