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Bod-Inc: A-054


Vita et Fabulae [English].


Analysis of Content

a2r Vita Aesopi [English]. This edition translated by William Caxton, from the French collection made by Julien Macho. Macho's version is derived from Heinrich Steinhöwel's version: for the derivation of Macho's translation from Steinhöwel, and an edition of his version of the ‘Life' and ‘Fables' see Beate Hecker, Julien Macho, ‘Esope’ (Dr.Phil. diss., Hamburg, 1982). Aesopus (ed. Lenaghan), 27-72. From the Latin version of Rinucius Aretinus. Perry, Aesopica, 1-32, discusses the textual tradition of the ‘Life'. For stemmata of this recension and the transmission of the text see Perry, Aesopica, 28-32. On the authorship and the translations of the ‘Life' see Aesopus (ed. Lenaghan), 5. On the edition in general see Aesopus (ed. Lenaghan), with discussion of the authorship at 4-18; at 232 is a concordance of the Caxton translation with Perry, Aesopica.

d6v Aesopus: Fabulae [English] (books I to IV). Aesopus (ed. Lenaghan), 73-136. From the Latin version of Romulus. On the authorship of this collection see Aesopus (ed. Lenaghan), 6, and Grubmüller, Esopus, 67-85.

k5v Aesopus: XVII fabulae extravagantes [English] (book V). Aesopus (ed. Lenaghan), 137-64. On the authorship of this collection see Aesopus (ed. Lenaghan), 6-7. These fables do not form part of the corpus ascribed to Romulus.

m8v Aesopus: XVII fabulae novae [English]. Aesopus (ed. Lenaghan), 165-75. From the Latin version of Rinucius Aretinus. On the authorship of this collection see Aesopus (ed. Lenaghan), 7.

o2r Avianus: XXVII fabulae [English]. Aesopus (ed. Lenaghan), 176-92. On the sources of Avianus (ed. Gaide), 38-45. For the transmission of manuscripts of Avianus see Reeve, ‘Avianus', Texts and Transmission, 29-32. On the authorship see Aesopus (ed. Lenaghan), 7, Avianus (ed. Ellis), pp. xi–xxi, and Avianus (ed. Gaide), 7-12, 25-7.

p8v [Petrus] Alphonsus: Fabulae collectae [English]. Aesopus (ed. Lenaghan), 193-213. On authorship see Aesopus (ed. Lenaghan), 8; see also Hispanic MSS and Books, no. 27.

r6r Poggius [Florentinus]; Caxton, William: Fabulae [English]. Aesopus (ed. Lenaghan), 214-29. Eleven fables and tales from Poggio Bracciolini's Facetiae, and two by Caxton himself; see R. H. Wilson, ‘The Poggiana in Caxton's Esope’, Philological Quarterly, 30 (1951), 348-52, and for an edition of Poggio's fables see Bracciolini (ed. Ciccuto). On the authorship of this collection see Aesopus (ed. Lenaghan), 8.


Imprint: Westminster: William Caxton, 26 Mar. 1484. Folio.


Collation: a–s8.

Illustrations: 187 woodcuts (186 and one (no. 50) repeated): see Hodnett 114-28 nos 28-113, and BMC. Painter considers these to have been the work of the cutter of the ‘Game of Chess II': see Painter, Caxton, 138, with discussion of the derivation of the illustrations from earlier editions of the fables; see also Aesopus (ed. Lenaghan), 23-4: he reproduces woodcuts from Günther Zainer's German edition, printed at Augsburg in 1477-8 (GW 352), rather than those from Caxton's own translation.


ISTC: ia00117500

GW: GW 376;

Hain: HC 360;


Proctor: Pr 9658;

Others: Blades, Caxton II no. 55; Caxton, Exhibition, BL, 65, no. 67; de Ricci, Caxton, 4; Duff 4; Needham, Pardoner, 88, no. Cx70; Sheppard 7402-3; STC 175. Facsimile: English Experience, no. 439 (Amsterdam, 1972).

LCN: 14334480, 14334581


Copy number: A-054(1)

Bound with:
1. Disticha Catonis. [Westminster: William Caxton, after 23 Dec. 1483] (C‑137(2));
2. Boethius, De consolatione philosophiae. [Westminster]: William Caxton, [c.1478] (B‑404(2)).
3. Geoffroy de La Tour-Landry, The Knight of the Tower. Westminster: [William Caxton], 31 Jan. 1484 (L‑001).

For this copy see Wonderful Things, no. 28; Caxton, Exhibition, Bodley, no. 17; Hispanic MSS and Books, 10 no. 27.

This copy ends imperfectly: it contains only the first three of Poggio Bracciolini's fables. Wanting a1, o1 and the whole of gathering s; d1, e2, o2, and p3 are mutilated. Following woodcuts wanting: Hodnett nos 28, 165-6, 210-13; nos 167 and 183-4 are badly mutilated.

Binding: Nineteenth-century blind-tooled calf, rebacked; bound for the Bodleian Library; the gold stamp of the Library on both covers. From the provenance evidence (see below) for items 1, 2, and 3 (Story and Creson inscriptions) and from the similarity in the handwriting of the ‘Rychards' (see below) in items 3 and 4, it seems clear that all four items have been travelling together since at least the beginning of the sixteenth century.

Size: 288 × 203 × 50 mm.

Size of leaf: 278 × 193 mm.

Early marginal annotations, including names, inscriptions, in English and Latin, without names or dates, pictures of animals and a chess board in item 4, also pen-trials and scribbles. Item 1: Inscription on i10r: ‘Jh[eu]n[e] the xxiiith day of Jheune the | yere of owre lord gods 1513' [Eve of the Nativity of John the Baptist]. Item 2: On [d2v]: ‘Wyll[ ]m [ ] | what is yors?' Item 3: all notes in early hands: on c5v: ‘The mas is abomenabell idolatry I love yt not', with similar phrases repeated twice, also on c4v; sections of text crossed out on c5v and d1v -d2r; on d1v: ‘This byll made ye xth of June in the xiiith year of the rayyne of [ ]'. On n4v: ‘Homo este syne pecunya et tanquam corpous syne hanyma'; ‘Homo sine pecunia est quasi [ ] | Imo homo sine pecunia est tanquam corpus sine anima . . .' On n5r: ‘Jvvenall sayth there is no thyng more tollerable than a rych wyffe'; ‘As tyme permytteth the to lyue so oughtest thou to be[] from daye to daye from tyme to tyme this domge to[ ]'; ‘O deus omnipotens soli miserere Johannis | Quem mors preueniens non [ ] esse [ ]'; ‘Haue ye in mynd I haue byn kynd | That I fore ye haue smartte | Remember me as I haue done ye | And ye thatt haue my harte'. On n5v eight lines of verse: ‘[C]urvare cogit [ ] sub millites caltar [ ] | Sic puerum studiis virga vacare suis | Si ter pulsanti nemo respondet absto | Nec frustra longam si sapis adde moram | Ex tribus his al[iquid] pro vero semper habendum est | Non sum non possum non licet esse domi | Qui plus expendit quam a plow will till in a xii moneth | Is non mereretur, to borrow a life as his neighbour'. On n6r: ‘God mayde man and man made monye. God mayde beayes and beaye mayde honye'. On n6v: ‘Jhesu my lady helyp amen'; ‘[ ] be knoyng to all men be thys present wrytyng that the noble erlle of Surrey [Thomas Howard (1443-1524), later 2nd Duke of Norfolk] departyd from Lambbethe in to the northe the xxii day of Jully the fyfthe yere of the reyng of kyng Henre the viiith [1513]'; ‘Rychard Dente/Douce'. The name ‘Rychard' appears twice on n6v of item 3 in a similar hand to Richard Robson's in item 4. Item 4: the following names (all in sixteenth-century(?) hands) appear in marginal annotations in item 4: Robert Brown (h7r); Edward Dente/Douce (`is an as') (a2r); [ ] Dewsebery (`you hath playde ye knaue yn ye feldys all thys daye'; ‘how many wenchys hath you goten with young pygge' [l2v]); on i8v Robert Myble (Mybbyl) and Jerrum []rokyffe; on x1r, Robert Vassel: ‘Admira me, Roberte Vassel.’

Provenance: John Mercer (sixteenth century); signature on i10v of item 1. Richard Story, Thomas Story (sixteenth century); inscription on [b3v] of item 2, ‘Nov[er]ynt vni[v]ersi per presentes me Ricardum Story cyvem et fishmonger de | London tenery et firmyter obligar''; cropped note on [l1v] of item 2, ‘[ ]so is bas[ ]t a beyond me | [ ]ane Thomas Story may | be of the mind for by my brothe | he is [ ]ast shamd'; on k8r of item 3, ‘Thomas Story is a knave'. Thomas Bokyngham (sixteenth century); inscription on a2v of item 3: ‘Seyt[ ] unto all men that I Thomas Bokyngam owe unto John Smythe of London sederler x li[ ] lawfull monny of y[n]gland'. Richard, Simon and [ ] Croson (sixteenth century); inscriptions on i10v of item 1, ‘Rychard Croson', and on g6r, l4v, and n6r of item 3: ‘Rychard Croson. Symon Croson is my name'; ‘Rychard Creson. Symon Creson. [ ]odya Creson'; ‘Rychard Croson & Symon Creson'. John Haddon (possibly also Thomas Haddon) (sixteenth century); inscriptions on h2r and n5r of item 3: ‘Thomas Ha[ ] Johannes Haden'; ‘John Haddon boke'; ‘O cruell death as subtill as a fox thou mightest haue let [ ]h[ ]u cu[ ] Fyned till he had bin an [ ] that he might haue [ ] led his lief amonge brambles and thornes till he cam to his fathers adge to haue wor[ ] Jhon Haddon as the gorc[ ] [ ] p[ ]ire as monstrous'. Thomas Stoke (sixteenth century); inscriptions on m3v -m4r of item 3: ‘Thomas Stoke'. Richard Robson, sixteenth century; signature on a2 of item 4. Gysbertus Voetius (1589-1676). Moses Pitt; bought in at his sale of part of the library of Voetius: see sale (1678), 90, no. 51, and Needham, Pardoner, 74, Appendix B, no. 16. Donated in 1680 by Moses Pitt: see Macray 429; inscription on front endleaf: ‘Ex dono Mosis Pitt Bibliopolae Londinensis, A.D. 1680.’

Former Bodleian shelfmarks: A 7.1 Art; 4° Z 4 Art; K 1.12 Art; Auct. QQ sup. 1.21(4).

SHELFMARK: Arch. G d.13(4).

Copy number: A-054(2)

One leaf, b7, 175 × 130 mm, of printer's waste, printed on the verso only, with Hodnett no. 41. For this copy see Douce Legacy, no. 141.

Leaf severely mutilated in the upper and outer margins, and gives the impression of having been used as a pastedown.

Binding: Mounted in a guard-book.

Provenance: Francis Douce (1757-1834). Bequeathed in 1834.

SHELFMARK: Douce Fragm. e.2.

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