[DU BELLAY, Joachim] / LE ROY, Louis Le Sympose de Platon, ou de l’amour et de beauté, traduit de Grec en François, avec trois livres de Commentaires, extraictz de toute Philosophie, & recueillis des meilleurs autheurs tant Grecz que Latins, & autres, par Loys le Roy, dit Regius.


Extremely rare first edition of this French interpretation of Plato’s Symposium

First edition of this precious volume containing 59 original poetic pieces by Joachim du Bellay, preserved in its contemporary overlapping limp vellum binding.

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SKU: LCS-16243 Categories: ,

Paris, Pour Vincent Sertenas, 1559.

4to [215 x 150 mm] of (4) ll., 200 ll. Bound in contemporary overlapping golden limp vellum, flat spine decorated with gilt fillets and fleurons, gilt edges. Small old repair on the flap of the upper cover. Contemporary binding.

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Extremely rare first edition with cancel title, of this French interpretation of Plato’s Symposium to which Joachim du Bellay took part. Tchemerzine, III, 83; Graesse, Trésor de livres rares, 324; Picot, Catalogue Rothschild, 3213; Double, Cabinet d’un curieux, 10; Brunet, Supp. II, 252; J.P. Barbier, Ma Bibliothèque poétique, III, n°18.

The wedding of the Dauphin of France and of Queen Mary of Scotland is celebrated on April 24th, 1558 in Notre-Dame de Paris. This French version of Plato’s Symposium by Louis Le Roy was offered as a wedding gift to the royal couple. The work is divided into 3 books, respectively addressed to the royal couple, to Francis of Valois and to Mary of Scotland. The second part of the work (ll. 184 to 200) contains the first edition of the translation in French verses by Joachim du Bellay of poems by Virgil, Horace, Lucretius, Ovid…

“At the verso of the title we can find a French sonnet and three Latin distiches by J. du Bellay. The 3 following ll. contain an epistle ‘Au Roy-dauphin et à la Royne-dauphine’, dated in Paris, April 24th, 1558, and the ‘l’Argument du Sympose de Platon’, by L. Le Roy. The translation and the comments by Louis Le Roy end on l. 180. After there is the epistle by the same Le Roy to the readers, dated in Paris, in the month of November 1558. This part contains many details about the author’s life. L. 184 is taken, on the recto, by the following title: ‘Plusieurs Passages des meilleurs poetes Grecs & Latins, citez aux Commentaires du Sympose de Platon, mis en vers François par I. Du Bellay Angeuin’. There are 57 translated fragments. A part of Horace’s Poetic Art (l. 195) is borrowed from Jacques Pelletier’s translation.” (Picot). There are actually 59 translations by Du Bellay that are original here according to J.P. Barbier.

The interpretation of Plato’s Symposium becomes a true apology of marriage describing the fundamental base of procreation and the way to pursue the monarchy’s blood lines.

Precious volume for his literary interest” (Double, Cabinet d’un curieux, 10).

In his letter To the readers, Le Roy explains the importance of the rediscovery of classical authors by society for the glory of the French language and identity.

Some copies of the first edition bear the date 1558 on the title, other one 1599, but all own a privilege with the date of September 1558 and a colophon of November 1558. Only the date on the title leaf has been modified for some copies. Tchemerzine is the only bibliographer to mention a copy with the date of 1558 on the title. Brunet, Graesse or even Picot and Double all mention copies with the cancel title of 1559.

Jean-Paul Barbier dedicates eight entire pages to this precious and extremely rare volume. This is how he describes his own copy: “Copy with good margins (height: 210 mm)” bound at the end of the 18th century in red morocco.

A precious wide-margined copy (height: 215 mm) preserved in its beautiful golden contemporary vellum, an exceptional condition for La Pléiade.

OCLC lists no copy with the title dated 1558, and 3 copies dated 1559, at the Harvard University, the Princeton University and the NY Academy of Medicine. Amongst French Institutions, only the B.n.F. owns a copy with the title dated 1558.

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[DU BELLAY, Joachim] / LE ROY, Louis