PLAUTUS, Comedies (Paris, 1576)

(Provenance: Phillips, 1846)

The title page states that this handsome folio volume was printed in the Paris printing house of Ioannes Macaeus (Mace) who was at work from 1523 to 1582. More precise details are given at the end of the work: the actual printer was Ioannes (Jean) Le Blanc Junior (at work from 1556 to 1587, and styling himself 'typographus'), and the book was produced at the expense of Macaeus, in the month of October. The title page also gives the information that the text has been emended on the authority of several MSS by Dionysius Lambinus Monstroliensis (Denis Lambin of Montreuil), who has added an explanatory commentary, and that this volume is the first publication of his efforts. It is clear, however, that Lambinus was dead by the time the book was printed; at the back, before the final 'Privilege du Roy' of Henry III of France, are 18 lines of Latin hexameters 'In Dionysii Lambini obitum' ('On Dionysius Lambinus' death').

As in most editions of Plautus of the time, the dramatist is named as M. Accius Plautus throughout, rather than T. Maccius Plautus which is now the form almost universally found. Pages 402-3, shown here, contain the short Fifth Act of Cistellaria and the Dramatis Personae and Argumentum at the start of Epidicus. The lines of text are unnumbered, and Dionysius' commentary is placed at the end of each scene. Here the final address to the spectators by the caterva at the end of Cistellaria is treated as a separate scene, and the Argumentum to Epidicus has commentary of its own, continuing on to p. 404. The hand-illuminated capitals of a century before [cf. nos 15 and 16] have now given place to finely decorated large matrices; the 'Q' on p. 402 is a particularly pleasing example.

The text and commentary are followed by a list of 'Passages cited by the Latin  grammarians from the 41 lost plays of Plautus', another of 'Ancient readings  of lustus Lipsius in which various passages of Plautus are illuminated and  emended', and two indices, one to Plautus and the other to Lambinus'  commentary .