Opera Philosophica EpistolaeItem: Incunabula Book
Title: Opera Philosophica Epistolae
Editor: Blasius Romerus
Printer: Bernardus de Colonia
Place of Printing: Treviso
Date of Printing: 1478
Incipit: Incipit Lucij Annei Senecae cordubensis liber de moribus: in quo notabiliter elganter vitae mores enarrat
Reference: Hain 14591, Proctor 64841 type 1, Brunet iv 250
Biography of Seneca
Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 B.C – 65 A.D.) was born in Spain but educated in Rome. He tutored Nero as a boy and became his advisor when Nero became emperor. Unfortunately, Nero accused him of conspiracy and Seneca was forced to commit suicide. Seneca was a major playwright, an orator, and philosopher. He was a Stoic and influenced the medieval and renaissance ages. Dante placed him in the First Circle of Hell- a place for good men whose only fault were that they were not Christian.
Opera Philosophica Epistolae
Seneca was a Stoic, espousing stoicism, and explaining that man himself contains the rational mind necessary to be happy. The rational mind is free to explore the world – even if the body is imprisoned. A happy life is a life in accord with nature. Seneca wrote about natural philosophy, i.e., man’s relationship with natural phenomenon and the laws of nature. Man is a part of this natural process, living and dying according within the natural framework. Although man is finite, he can study God through studying the natural laws. He can become like God by striving for ethical and rational behavior and being a virtuous person. Seneca wrote 124 letters to Lucilius in which he discussed the philosophical issues of life.
Our book has approximately 424 pages. Each page has 53 lines of Gothic type in a single column. The first initial is a pen flourished decorated arabesque “O” in blue and red with decorations continuing down the left side of the page. Other initials are illuminated in red or blue, some are litterae notabiliores. Some of the illuminated initials still have the guide letters uncovered . There are red and blue paragraph marks on different pages throughout the book. There are quire signatures. At the end of the book is the colophon of Bernardum de Colonia. There are only two specimens of this press and this is the rare second edition.
Bernardus de Colonia
Bernardus de Colonia (Cologne) was also known as Bernard von Koln and Bernardo da Colonia. He was a printer in Treviso (near Venice). He may have been the brother of Johannes de Colonia, another printer in the area. Bernardus only printed three books.
Blasius Romerus was the editor of Seneca’s Opera printed first in Naples in 1475. He also edited Biblia Latina, printed in Naples in 1476. Romerus may have been the abbot of Santa Maria Del Popolo in Naples. He was noted as a fine singer at the royal chapel of Alphonso I the Magnificent of Aragon.