Psalterium Davidis Graece et Latine

16th Century Book
Psalterium Davidis Graece et Latine
David, King of Israel
(1) Apud Vuolf. Cephal, (2) Christophori Plantine
Place of Printing:
(1) Argentora (Strassbourgh), (2) Antuerpiae (Antwerp)
Date of Printing:
1524 and 1558
3.75 x 2.5 inches
McCune Location:
Sh. 10 #35


Jewish tradition has historically attributed the Psalms to the authorship of King David of Israel.

The Work

This book is a diglot (i.e., written in two languages). It is in both Latin and Greek. It appears to have been printed by two printers: the Greek by Vuolf. Cephal. in Argentora (Strassbourgh) in 1524 and the Latin by Christopher Plantine in 1558. It contains the 150 psalms as well as additional biblical passages and canticles. There are canticles for the seven days of the week as well as for vespers, lauds and compline. The canticles are as follows:

Canticle of the Three Children (Daniel iii 57)
Canticle of Isaias (Isaiah 12)
Canticle of Ezechias (Isaiah 38: 10-20)
Canticle of Anna (1 Samuel 2: 1-10)
Canticle of Moses (Exodus 15: 1-19)
Canticle of Habacuc (Hab. iii, 2-19)
Canticle of Moses (Deuteronomy 32: 1-43)
Canticle of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Magnigicat) (Luke 1: 46-55)
Canticle of Zachary (Benedictus) (Luke 1: 68-79)
Canticle of Simeon (Nunc Dimittis) (Luke 2: 29-32)

Our Copy

The first part of the book is in Greek. The title is surrounded by historiated decorations. Text is mostly in Greek but a section reads “Argentora Apud Vuolf Cephal.” Vuolfgangum Cephalaeum was the name of printer Wolfgang Kopfel who was a printer in Stassbourg. It appears to be dated 1524. The Greek section contains an index near the end which is approximately nine leaves in length and starts at leaf 199. The last page of the Greek section shows a box with a snake over it with a bird sitting on the snake. This was the printmark of Wolfgang Kopfels.

The second part of the book is Latin. The title is in Latin and there is Plantin’s printmark showing a hand holding a compass starting to draw a circle. The date is 1558. An illustration in the Latin section shows Christ on the cross along with the two thieves. The Latin section is decorated with red initials.

There is an ex libris label in the front cover of the book. It reads “Caroli ac Mariae Lacaitae Filiorumque Selham Sussex.” This indicated that the book was owned by Charles and Mary Lacaita and their children of Selham, Sussex. Charles Lacaita (1853-1933) was a member of Parliament 1885-1888 and a botanist of note.


Vuolf Cephala is the abbreviated form of Vuolfgangum Cephalaeum. This is Wolfgang Kopfel who was a printer in Strassbourgh between 1522 and 1554.

Christophe Plantin (ca. 1520-1589) was born in France. He was trained as a bookbinder but moved his trade to Antwerp in 1549 for more opportunity. At this time Henri II of France was taking steps to halt the spread of heresy (i.e., Protestantism) in his kingdom. Henri’s government was examining books to ensure Protestant texts were not disseminated and persecuting violators. In 1555, after working as a bookbinder, Plantin became a printer in Antwerp. His business grew to over twenty presses. He published liturgical formularies (missals, brevaries, psalters), early botanical works. At one point he was charged with printing heresy and had to flee to France.


[Title] Psalterum Davidis Cum Litania Sanctorum, Quatuor Passionibus
Domini, & Quibusdam orationibus Selectis. [Printmark of Hand holding a
Compass “Et Constantia Labore.” Anteverpiae, In Officina Christophori
Plantini. Anno 1558
Illustration [Christ on Cross]
Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi, Secundu Matthaeum
Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi, Secundu Marcum
Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi, Secundu Lucam
Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi, Secundu Ioannem
Symbolum Athanasi Episcopi
Psalms 1-150
Canticum Trium Puerorum
Canticum Esaiae
Canticum Ezechiae Regis
Canticum Annae
Canticum Mariae Sonoris Moysi
Canticum Abacue
Canticum Moysi
Canticum Beatissimae Mariae Semper Virginis
Canticum Zachariae
Canticum Sin Conis Propherae
Index Psalteri


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