Rome, A. Blado 1542.
8vo. [iii], 48 leaves. Greek type, initial spaces with printed guide letters.
Early 19th-century gilt-ruled straight-grained green morocco, engraved ticket of Derome le jeune on the blank front flyleaf, marbled endleaves, flat spine, daisies and gilt-lettered title (hinges and corners rubbed), all edges gilt, pink silk marker.
EDITIO PRINCEPS OF THIS ?TWELFTH-CENTURY GREEK PLAY WITH A FEMALE PROTAGONIST. IT INSPIRED MILTON’S SAMSON AGONISTES. “Little Byzantine literature has been read, edited and discussed as much” (Krumbacher, tr.).
Mary Mother of God and her sufferings, not Christ’s, are the focus of this Christian passion play in 2600 verses. The work is divided in three parts, the passion and death of Christ, the entombment of Christ and the resurrection of Christ. Each part conforms to the classical unities of action, time and place, and all three adopt the ancient Greek convention of a chorus, in this case two, both composed of young women, who alternately query and counsel Mary. NEARLY HALF THE TEXT COMES IN WHOLE OR IN PART FROM EURIPIDES, and portions of the lost end of the Bacchae have been recovered from this cento, which also draws on Aeschylus, Lycophron and Romanos the Melodist.
Authorship remains in dispute. Tradition and the most recent scholarly edition (by Tuilier) claim it for Gregory Nazianzenus (329-390), while general consensus places its composition between the eighth and twelfth century, possibly by Constantinus Manasses (c. 1130-c. 1187.).
In this first edition, Blado gave the text the title by which it has since been known, Christus patiens, and, without comment, credited it to Gregory. Other printings and translations followed immediately. I have located three examples in the U.S. A good copy, manuscript note of Simon Chandon de la Rochette (1753-1914), gilt black morocco bookplate of the Mexican-Spanish diplomat José Gómez de la Cortina, marqués de Morante (1799-1860), 19th-century signature of Anthony R.L. Moir, Esq., tipped-in entry for this copy from Quartich’s Bindings. Catalogue No. 349 (1883) 13338. This is the ticket of Derome le jeune identified as K4 by Pascal Ract-Madoux (“Essai de classement chronologique des étiquettes de Derome le Jeune” in Bulletin du Bibliophile (1989) 382-91).
¶La Passion du Christ: Tragédie ed. Tuilier 11-74; Follieri, “Ancora una nota sul Christus patiens” in Byzantina et Italograeca (1997) 463-8; Krumbacher, Geschichte der byzantinischen Litteratur 746-9; Fumagalli & Belli, Catalogo…di Antonio Blado 66 “rara”; Hoffmann, Bibliographisches Lexicon der gesammten Litteratur der Griechen II: 179; EDIT16 CNCE 14528.