Prodromus Coptus sive Aegyptiacus...cum linguae Coptae. Athanasius KIRCHER.

“The Basis for Coptic Studies” &

“A Tour de Force of 17th-Century Typography”

Prodromus Coptus sive Aegyptiacus...cum linguae Coptae...

Woodcut vignette on title, woodcut illus. in the text, & many exotic type fonts used. 12 p.l., 338 pp. 4to, late 18th-cent. half calf & marbled boards (some browning as is usual with this book), spine gilt, black morocco lettering piece on spine. Rome: Propaganda Fide, 1636.

First edition. This present work is “the first Coptic grammar to appear in the West, [it] was for centuries the basis for Coptic studies, along with Kircher’s later work Lingua aegyptiaca restituta (1643). Kircher had encountered hieroglyphs during his tertianship (a one-year period of religious study in preparation for the ministry) in Speier, and he was convinced — correctly — that Coptic was a late vestige of ancient Egyptian. While at Avignon he was given several Coptic manuscripts by his friend and patron Nicolas Claude Fabri de Peiresc. Later in Rome Kircher acquired an Arabic-Coptic vocabulary brought from Egypt by Pietro della Valle. On the basis of these, and with Peiresc’s encouragement, Kircher compiled the Prodromus. As the title reveals, it was to be a precursor of a later work on the Egyptian language, perhaps the Lingua aegyptiaca restituta. In both works he stresses the importance of Coptic for interpreting hieroglyphics. Because ‘things Egyptian’ were the rage in seventeenth-century Europe, the Prodromus attained immediate popularity and firmly established Kircher’s reputation as a scholar…

“Type fonts include Greek, Syriac, Arabic, Hebrew, Estranghelo, Samaritan, Armenian, Chaldean, Rashi, Amharic, ‘Saracen,’ hieroglyphic, and of course Coptic — a tour de force of seventeenth-century typography.”–Merrill, Athanasius Kircher, 3.

This book is virtually a type specimen of the fonts possessed by the new established (1626) Press of the Propaganda Fide.

Very good copy. Stamp on free front endpaper of the “Biblioteca Privata Pasquale Regina” and a signature on blank portion of title. Dunnhaupt notes two settings of the title-page (no priority): 1. with the insignia of the dedicatee, Francesco Barberini, and 2. a medallion of Christ and Apostles (as in our copy).

❧ Dunnhaupt, II, pp. 996-97.

Price: $7,500.00

Item ID: 3385

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