A Rare Commentary on Columella’s Book on Gardening
Hortuli Commentarium, sive In de Rustica Lib. X. Commentum.
10 leaves, one column, 35 lines, Gothic type, printed guide letters. Small 4to, 19th-cent. red morocco-backed marbled boards, spine lettered in gilt, t.e.g. [Rome: Bartholomaeus Guldinbeck, about 1485].
Second edition (1st ed.: Rome, 1472), of this rare anonymous commentary by Julius Pomponius Laetus on the tenth book — entirely devoted to gardening — of Columella’s De Re Rustica. Columella (1st c. A.D.), “Roman landowner, was the author of De Re Rustica ca. AD 60-5), a treatise in 12 books which is the longest and most comprehensive and lucid of the Roman agricultural manuals. Book 10 deals with gardening and is written in hexameters in response to the invitation in Virgil’s fourth Georgic. The layout of the garden, the water supply, the plants to be grown, and details regarding their culture are all treated. Attention is given to flowers as well as to vegetables and herbs.”–Oxford Companion to Gardens, p. 123.
This commentary is today attributed to Pomponius Laetus (1428-98), the ruling spirit of the Roman Academy. “The Roman Academy flourished anew under Julius II. That Academy had owed its origin to Pomponius Laetus, a pupil of Valla, whom he succeeded as the leading spirit among the Roman humanists…To Pomponius the contemplation of the ruins of ancient Rome was a perpetual delight; and in his own person he revived the life of the pagan past. He had a small plot of land, which he tilled in accordance with the precepts of Varro and Columella, and he was himself regarded as a second Cato. His vineyard on the Quirinal was frequented by his enthusiastic pupils.”–Sandys, A History of Classical Scholarship, II, p. 92.
The commentary was circulating in manuscript in 1467; it is concerned with the explication of mythological, geographical, and botanical points.
Fine copy. Minor spotting. This is a rare book with only two copies located in North America. Stamp of the Lawes Agricultural Trust.
❧ Goff C-765. ISTC ic00765000. Virginia Brown, “Columella, Lucius Junius Moderatus” in Catalogus Translationum et Commentariorum, Vol. III, pp. 173-85.
Item ID: 6356