[Vicenza, Jacobus de Dusa] c. 1482.
4to (197 x 136 mm.). a8 b-c6 ($3 (+A4)). p. Roman type (102), 29 lines per page (text block 148 x 98 mm.), printed guide letters, quires signed on the last line of the text.
Early 19th-century English gilt-ruled purple morocco, small gilt tulips in the corners, flat spine with foliage and a vertically gilt-lettered title (slightly rubbed), turn-ins gilt, all edges gilt, green silk marker.
THE ONLY SURVIVING COPY OF THIS EDITION.
“THE TRUE AESOP FOR THE BROAD MIDDLE AGES” (Manitius, tr.). “From it all the popular fables of modern Europe are derived. ‘Moralized’…they have been diffused over the whole western world” (PMM). In the 1170s Walter of England produced these sixty-five verse fables, including “ONE OF THE FEW MEDIEVAL TALES TO PRESENT JEWS IN A POSITIVE LIGHT” (Zago et al.).
The contemporary event that inspired Walter’s The Jew and the Cup Bearer is considered THE ORIGIN OF THE JEWISH RITUAL MURDER LIBEL. In 1044 at Norwich, a Christian boy was killed. A suspected Jewish merchant was arrested, tried and acquitted — but later murdered, in Walter’s telling, by the Royal Cup Bearer, who then revealed his deed to King Stephen. The monarch condemned and executed the violator and publicly vindicated the innocent Jewish victim.
The present set of sixty-five fables had three 15th-century plain-text editions (GW 385, this and 0038810; together known in four examples, none in the U.S.).
Typographic and paper evidence assign this quarto to the press of Jacopo de Dusa, previously credited with four publications, all confined to 1482. In fine condition (first quire misfolded), the Wolters-Du Méril copy.
¶Wolters, Catalogue (1844) 412 (this copy); Du Méril, Poésies inédites du Moyen âge 417-20 (this copy); Brunet I: 88 (the untraced Celotti copy, ?an error); Keidel, A Manual of Aesopic Fable Literature 77 (after Brunet); ISTC ia00124800 (this copy); GW 0038510N (this copy).
¶For the text — Printing and the Mind of Man 15 (1485 ed.); Lerer, Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History 41-5; Zago et al., “The Jew and the King’s Cup-Bearer: A Tale of Jewish Life in Medieval Europe” in Fabula 42 (2001) 213-242; Hale, “Aesop in Renaissance England” in The Library Ser. 5 vol. XXVII (1972) 116-25; Hervieux, Les Fabulistes latins I: 472-666 & II: 316-351; Manitius, Geschichte der lateinischen Literatur des Mittelalters III: 771-3.