Bound with: JUSTINUS, Marcus Junianus. Des hochberümptesten Geschicht schreybers Justini warhafftige Hystorien die er auss Trogo Pompeio gezoge[n]. [And with:] HERODIANUS. Der Fürtrefflich Griechisch geschicht schreiber Herodianus. [Both:] Augsburg: H. Steiner, 19 i.e.,  August 1531.Three vols. in one, folio (303 x 203 mm). Cicero: , 91 ff. Title woodcut of Caesar surrounded by counselors with Cicero writing in the background, full-page portrait of Schwarzenberg purportedly after Dürer, 101 woodcut text illustrations printed from 97 blocks, several within woodcut borders or with border strips, several blocks with inset type. Justinus: , 119, [1 blank] ff. Large title woodcut of Ninus and Alexander, 49 woodcut illustrations printed from 36 blocks. Herodianus: , 74 ff. Title woodcut of Antoninus and Gordianus, one woodcut illustration. Gothic types. Woodcut historiated and ornamental initials and tailpieces throughout. Contemporary German blind-stamped alum-tawed skin over wooden boards, sides decorated with panels built up from two different foliate rolls and with rosette and IHS tools, spine with different leafy tools, 19th-century ms. paper title label, pair of brass clasps and catches, plain edges, no free endpapers, watermark on lower pastedown: crown with arch, resembling Piccard 51924 (Rottweil 1510), & 51929 (Schöntal, Kloster, 1513). Provenance: contemporary ink-lettered shelf-number “40” on fore-edges. Condition: fine, apart from the following minor defects: Justinus: title a trifle soiled, short tear in f. J2 (f. 50), marginal tear in F2 (f. 32), marginal paper flaw in M4 (f. 70), tear in gutter of final blank. Herodianus: slight dampspotting in lower margin of title, dampstaining in lower margins of last two quires (l and m). Cicero: occasional insignificant marginal dampstains. Stain to upper cover of binding. The minor dampstaining at the end of the Herodianus seems to have occurred when the book was still in sheets, as sheet m2.3 is unaffected, as is the Cicero.***
Three important editions of classical texts, in the first or early editions in German, containing one of the first appearances of the outstanding woodcut illustration cycle attributed to the so-called Petrarca-Meister. Justinus’ epitome of Pompeius Trogus’ otherwise lost Roman history (Historicae Philippicae), and Herodian’s “History of the Empire from the Death of Marcus” are here in the first editions in German, translated by Hieronymus Boner of Colmar, who used Angelo Poliziano’s Latin version (first published at rome, 1493) of Herodian’s Greek text. They were bound soon after publication with the third edition of the Schwarzenberg-Neuber translation of Cicero’s De Officiis, published the same year as the first edition.
Cicero’s late work On Duties, written as a letter to his son, treats fundamental ethical questions of the right way to live in an anecdotal style and contains much information on contemporary Roman politics and social customs. It remained the most important non-Christian moral authority throughout the Middle Ages, and was widely disseminated in manuscript and later in print. This was the second printed translation into German, following a different version printed in 1488. For his translation, the humanist Johann Freiherr zu Schwarzenberg und Hohenlandsberg (1463-1528), controller for the Bishops of Bamberg and later for the Margraves of Brandenburg, relied on help from his chaplain Johann Neuber.
Heinrich Steiner’s illustrated edition, a bestseller which would be printed ten times in fourteen years, was a major undertaking fifteen years in the making. The woodblocks were cut a decade earlier. Originally commissioned ca. 1517 by the Augsburg printer Sigmund Grimm and his partner Marx Wirsung, a rich German merchant, for an edition of excerpts from Cicero (mainly from De Officiis and De Senectute, to be published with a short Vita Ciceronis), and for Petrarch’s De remediis, all but five of the blocks remained unpublished by Grimm, although they were completed by the fall of 1521 (the five blocks were used in 1522 in Neuber’s translation of De Senectute). In 1522 Wirsung died, and Grimm declared bankruptcy (this history is alluded to by the printer in the foreword to the Cicero, dated August 1, 1530). Along with Grimm’s other printing materiel Steiner acquired the precious woodblocks in 1527, although it would be another four years before he was able to publish any of the cuts, in the present works, which marked the beginning of an ambitious publishing program of illustrated classics in translation. Although the illustrator was later named after Steiner’s edition of Petrarch, De remediis, that work did not appear until 1532. "The Burgkmaier [i.e., the "Petrarca-Meister"] woodblocks which Steiner acquired from the Grimm estate provided him with an inexhaustible trove of illustrations for the most diverse works" (Muther, p. 171, 1077, "Die von Burgkmaier 1520 dazu gelieferten Holzschnitte, die er aus dem Grimm'schen Nachlasse übernommen hatte, sind seitdem für ihn eine unerschöpfliche Fundgrube zur Illustration der verschiedenartigsten Werke geworden").
The artist's identity has long been debated. Formerly attributed to Hans Burgkmair and/or to the Strassburg botanical artist Hans Weiditz the younger, the cuts show the influence of Hans Baldung, Lucas Cranach, and Albrecht Dürer. One of the Cicero cuts is signed with the initials H.B. and another with both H.b.b. and H.W., and the portrait, after a lost drawing by Dürer, is signed with the monogram IB (Jörg Breu, Hans Burgkmair, Johannes Beiditz [Weiditz] - all have been suggested), but most are unsigned. In 1891 Woldemar von Seydlitz declared the Grimm/Steiner cuts the work of an unidentified engraver whom he dubbed the "Petrarca-Meister,” after Steiner’s editions of Petrarch’s De remediis (Von der Artzney bayder Glück, 1532 and later editions, also known as the Trostbuch). The moniker was taken up anew in 1927 by Theodor Musper, who firmly rejected previous attributions to Burgkmair and Weiditz. Other experts, including William Ivins, have argued on stylistic grounds that the Petrarch Master was indeed Weiditz, whose name would have slipped through the cracks because of his habit of not signing his blocks.
While the identity of the artist (who probably did not cut the blocks himself) may remain a matter of speculation, it is generally agreed that these illustrations were the key to the successes of Steiner’s major bestsellers, the Ciceros and the Petrarch (he published Grimm's projected excerpts from Cicero in 1534, reprinted in 1535). Some of the cuts are emblematic; many contain vignettes of contemporary Renaissance life, including a notary’s office, a conjurer, an armorer's shop, a scriptorium, a library, a painter’s studio, a domestic interior swarming with children (one with a toy push cart), a dancing bear, a phlebotomy, doctors consulting, drunken men fighting, a construction site, etc. Text and illustrations exactly follow Steiner’s two previous editions, of 16 February and 29 April 1531. The only change, made in the middle of printing the first edition (some copies of which have a pasted down cancellans) was to replace the original, potentially controversial “genealogical tree” woodcut on M5v, which showed all of society from pope and emperor down resting on the backs of two peasants, with a more innocuous cut of a tree bearing four men and four women.
The woodcuts in the Justinus are also from the Grimm stock, and about half of the cuts appeared as well in Steiner's editions of Cicero and/or Petrarch. Of those found in the Justinus only, a few are less densely hatched and somewhat simpler in line; these are clearly not the work of the same artist or master engraver (only one such cut appears in the Cicero, on f. 50). Dodgson assigned the Justinus title cut of Ninus & Alexander (and the Herodian title cut of Antoninus & Gordianus) to Jörg Breu I after Burgkmair, 18 cuts to Hans Weiditz, 10 to Jörg Breu II, and 5 to other unknown artists. The single text woodcut in the Herodianus appears also in the Justinus. While modern scholars may not agree with Dodgson's attributions, his distinctions between the different hands were accurate. Although traditionally catalogued separately, Steiner clearly issued the two works as a pair: they are invariably found together, and should be considered two parts of a single edition: there is no colophon at the end of the Justinus, the signatures and title woodcuts are complementary, and there is no imprint on the title of the Herodianus.
Cicero: VD16 C 3240; Fairfax Murray 118 (Feb. 1531 edition); Worstbrock, Deutsche Antikerezeption 1450-1550, 140; Dodgson II:143/12; Muther 878 & 1077.
Justinus: VD16 T 2069; Fairfax Murray 231; Worstbrock 242; Dodgson II:110/5, 143/14, 427/1; Muther 1079.
Herodianus: VD16 H 2503; Fairfax Murray 197; Worstbrock 195; Dodgson II:425/12b; Muther 1078.
On the Weiditz / Petrarca Meister woodcuts, cf. (among others) William Ivins, “Hans Weiditz: a Study in Personality,” Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art 17 (1922):156-161; Theodor Musper, Die Holzschnitte des Petrarkameisters (1927); Geir & Jonata, editors, Augsburger Buchdruck und Verlagswesen (1997), pp. 235-238 and 1220. Item #2447