1539 Justin Trogus Pompeius History Greece Alexander The Great Egypt Persia Maps

1539 Justin Trogus Pompeius History Greece Alexander The Great Egypt Persia Maps

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1539 Justin Trogus Pompeius History Greece Alexander The Great Egypt Persia Maps:

[Early Printing - post-incunqbula - Basel] [Maps & Cartography] [Greek & Roman Classics]
[History - Ancient - Greece, Egypt, Assyria, Persia, Armenia] [Alexander the Great] [Philip II of Macedon]
[Fine Bookbindings - 16th century - German]

Printed in Basel by Michael Isingrin, 1539. First Grynaeus edition.

Text in Latin (with occasional words or passages in Hebrew and Greek). Illustrated with five full-page woodcut maps of the Mediterranean, Middle East and North Africa.

This scarce illustrated edition of Justinus' Epitome of the Philippic History by Trogus Pompeius was edited by Simon Grynaeus (1493-1541), and includes his introductory essay "De utilitate legendae historiae" and his notes. Grynaeus was an eminent Basel humanist and protestant theologian, a noted hellenist who held a chair of Greek at Heidelberg and Basel. Close friend of Melancthon, Calvin and Erasmus, Grynaeus took part in the redaction of the first Helvetic Confession. With Luther, he participated in the colloquy at Worms in 1540.

Justinus' epitome of the Historia Philippica by Pompeius Trogus was produced about the 3rd century AD. The original work, a great universal history by Pompeius Trogus written in first century BC, is valued for its concentration on the history of peoples outside Italy and for including a description of the Macedonian empire founded by Philip and greatly expanded by Alexander. As it has not survived, the Epitome of Justinus has become the most significant witness to Hellenistic historiography.

Gnaeus Pompeius Trogus was a 1st century BC Roman historian of the Celtic tribe of the Vocontii in Gallia Narbonensis. His grandfather served in the war against Sertorius with Pompey, through whose influence he obtained Roman citizenship; hence the name Pompeius, adopted as a token of gratitude to his benefactor.

Trogus himself seems to have been a man of encyclopaedic knowledge. Following Aristotle and Theophrastus, he wrote books on the natural history of animals and plants, which were frequently quoted by Pliny the Elder. His principal work was Historiae Philippicae, in forty-four books, so called because the Macedonian empire founded by Philip II is the central theme of the narrative. This was a general history of those parts of the world that came under the sway of Alexander and his successors.

Trogus began with a legendary Ninus, founder of Nineveh, and ended at about the same point as Livy (AD 9). Justin wrote an epitome of Trogus' lost work, and in the manuscripts of Justin's work a series of prologi, or summaries of the books, by an unknown hand has been preserved. The last event recorded by Justin is the recovery of the Roman standards captured by the Parthians in 20 BC. Ethnographical and geographical digressions were such a feature of the work that it developed the unwarranted reputation of being a universal history, never Trogus' intention.

Trogus left untouched Roman history up to the time when Greece and the East came into contact with Rome, possibly because Livy had sufficiently treated it. The work was based upon the writings of Greek historians, such as Theopompus (whose Philippica may have suggested Trogus' subject), Ephorus, Timaeus, Polybius.

His idea of history was more severe and less rhetorical than that of Sallust and Livy, whom he blamed for putting elaborate speeches into the mouths of the characters of whom they wrote. Of his great work, we possess only the epitome by Justin, the prologi of the 44 books, and fragments quoted in Vopiscus, Jerome, Augustine and other writers. But even in its present mutilated state it is often an important authority for the ancient history of the Middle East.

The work of Trogus is now lost; but the prologi, or arguments, of the text are preserved by Pliny and other writers. Although the main theme of Trogus was the rise and history of the Macedonian monarchy, Justin yet permitted himself considerable freedom of digression, and thus produced an idiosyncratic anthology instead of a mundane summary (or epitome) of the work.

Bibliographic references:

BM STC German 871; Adams J 729; Graesse III p.512; Schweiger II, p.487; Olschki, Choix, 1258.

Physical description:

Quarto, textblock measures 195 mm x 136 mm. In attractive contemporary (mid 16th-century) German or Swiss binding of alum-tawed pigskin over pasteboards, elaborately paneled in blind: both boards bordered with portrait rolls of biblical characters including Christ, Adam, Abraham, David, Joseph & Mary; and with central panels incorporating roundel portrait stamps of prominent Renaissance figures including those of Martin Luther and Philipp Melanchthon. Two pairs of (probably original) leather ties. Spine with three bands raised over binding cords.

Pagination: (32), 319, (1 blank) pp.
Signatures: α-δ4 a-z4 A-R4. Collated and COMPLETE.

Main text printed in Roman letter, commentaries in italic, with occasional use of Hebrew and Greek types. Title page with printer's device (design attributed to Hans Holbein the Younger) depicting a palm tree, with a large flat stone in its branches, against a Renaissance shield (also used by Bebel and with characters reading "Palma Beb."). Numerous decorative and historiated woodcut initials.
Five full-page woodcut maps on leaves c2v, g4r, h1r, k4v and r2r.

Preliminaries include an extensive Index (on α2r-γ4r), and Grynaeus's introductory essay "De utilitate legendae historiae" (leaves δ2r-4v), as well as some chronological tables pertaining to history of the empire of Alexander the Great, Assyrian and Persian empires, Syria, Egypt, etc.


Several 16th-century ownership signatures on title-page, including one by "Anthonius de ecclesia Tarentasiensis", i.e. a certain Antoine of the Diocèse de Tarentaise, located in the Tarentaise Valley in Savoie (South-East France). Another signature by Johann Wilhelm ?Schorno.

Extensive scholarly manuscript annotations in text in elegant tiny humanist cursive hand, with inscription "Finis huius libri" at the end dated "1556".

On rear fly-leaf (recto) a manscript poem in praise of history "Ad Lectorem pro Historiae commendatione, Glareani Carmen" (beginning: "Si quid in hoc mundo est..."), which appeared in the preliminaries to the 1552 Basel edition of Muenster's Cosmographiae universalis. At the bottom of page Hebrew word מרק is written, with transliteration "marak".

Could this, perhaps, be Heinrich Glarean's copy? The list of Glarean's books in Munich in the University Library of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, in John Kmetz, ed., Music in the German Renaissance: Sources, Styles, and Contexts (Appendix 2, No. 67) mentions a copy of the 1539 Isingrin edition of Justinus' Ex Trogo "in contemporary binding, heavily anotated by Glarean." Heinrich Glarean (1488-1563) was a Swiss music theorist, poet and humanist.


Very Good antiquarian condition. Binding rubbed, slightly soiled, with staining to rear cover; corners slightly bumped, short closed tear to pigskin at bottom of front joint; original leather ties preserved (one with half torn off) but soiled and a bit brittle. Front free endpaper removed. Occasional moderate marginal dampstaining (not affecting text). Leaf h1 with a small piece of (blank) outer margin torn off without loss to text or map. Very extensive scholarly manuscript annotations in Latin, both marginal and interlinear, to most of the text in well-formed but tiny 16th-century humanist hand, with long introductory notes headed "Quid Historia" and "Argumentum" on blank verso of title-page, and a poem "Ad Lectorem pro Historiae commendatione" by Glarean on rear free endpaper (see Provenance). Otherwise a clean and solid example, complete and wide-margined, in an attractive Renaissance binding, and, potentially, with a very interesting provenance.

Please click on thumbnails below to see larger images.

Contents of Justinus' Epitome:

  • Book I. The Assyrians and the Persians down to Darius
  • Book II. Account of the Scythians and their actions
  • Book III. Death of Xerxes and the Peloponnesian war
  • Book IV. Sicily
  • Book V. Alcibiades, Lysander, and the expedition of Cyrus
  • Book VI. The wars in Greece from 399 to 362 BCE
  • Book VII. History of Macedonia to the beginning of Philip's reign
  • Book VIII. Philip's machinations to strengthen his power
  • Book IX.Thebes and Athens defeated and the assassination of Philip
  • Book X. The sons of Artaxerxes and the end of the Persian monarchy
  • Book XI. Alexander's reign to the death of Darius
  • Book XII. Alexander's final years
  • Book XIII. The division of the empire
  • Book XIV. The successors (318-316 BCE)
  • Book XV. The successors (316-297 BCE)
  • Book XVI. Second generation of successors (293-282 BCE)
  • Book XVII. Deaths of Lysimachus and Seleucus. Rise of Pyrrhus of Epirus (284-281 a.C.)
  • Book XVIII. Pyrrhus invades Italy. Beginning of the history of Carthage
  • Book XIX. History of Carthage
  • Book XX. Dionysius of Syracuse
  • Book XXI. Dionysius the Younger
  • Book XXII. Agathocles
  • Book XXIII. Agathocles. Pyrrhus. Hiero II
  • Book XXIV. Ptolemy Ceraunos and Antigonus Gonatas
  • Book XXV. Antigonus and Pyrrhus
  • Book XXVI. Antigonus Gonatas. Demetrius the Fair
  • Book XXVII. Wars of Seleucus II
  • Book XXVIII. Demetrius II. Antigonus Doson
  • Book XXIX. Philip V of Macedon
  • Book XXX. Ptolemy IV Philopator, Philip V and the Romans
  • Book XXXI. Wars of the Romans against Nabis and Antiochus III. Hannibal flees Carthage
  • Book XXXII. The years 183-175 BCE
  • Book XXXIII. War of the Romans with Perseus
  • Book. XXXIV. Destruction of Corinth. Roman preeminence in the Eastern Mediterranean
  • Book XXXV. Demetrius Soter dethroned and avenged by his son Demetrius Nicator
  • Book XXXVI. Rise and fall of Trypho. The Jews. Attalus III bequeaths Pergamum to Rome
  • Book XXXVII. Mithridates Eupator
  • Book XXXVIII. Mithridates Eupator. Ptolemy VIII Physcon. Demetrius II Nicator. Antiochus Sidetes
  • Book XXXIX. Demetrius dethroned. Death of Ptolemy Physcon. Desolation of Egypt and Syria
  • Book XL. Tigranes of Armenia
  • Book XLI. The Parthians down to Mithridates I
  • Book XLII. Early history of Armenia. Continuation of the history of Parthia
  • Book XLIII. Origins of Rome and Marseilles
  • Book XLIV. The Iberian peninsula

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1539 Justin Trogus Pompeius History Greece Alexander The Great Egypt Persia Maps:

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