Item #11846 Epulum Parasiticum. Gilles Ménage.
Epulum Parasiticum.
Epulum Parasiticum.
Epulum Parasiticum.
“THE HIGH PRIEST OF TRIVIALITY” — BANNISTER

Epulum Parasiticum.

Nürnberg, s.n. 1665.

12mo (135 x 76 mm.). Etched allegorical title, [lvi], 315p. and FIVE ETCHED PLATES; lacking the folding letterpress leaf as usual.

Late 18th-century green calf with a gilt chain frame (rubbed), flat spine gilt and gilt-lettered (hinges slightly worn), gilt board edges and turn-ins, all edges gilt, red silk marker.

            First collected edition: “TRUE MASTERPIECES OF MALICIOUS WIT” (Adelung, tr.). These Latin and French satires pillory the pedantic miser and social parasite Pierre de Montmaur (1576-1648). A professor of Greek at the Collège de France, he was known for his cheap wordplay, facetiousness, gossip and erudite banter. These gained him access to wealthy Parisian homes, where he satiated his gluttony and outraged dinner guests. Finally, a group of Parisian intellectuals had had enough. Led by classical scholar Gilles Ménage, they satirized the satirist, i.a., accusing him of forgery, homosexuality and murder.
           The lengthy preface examines the role of parasitism in classical literature, and the five Latin texts that follow — by Ménage, Chas. Feramus, J.-F. Sarasin and Nic. Rigault — are variously in prose and verse. They create specious events in Montmaur’s biography, including his war against the Muses, his metamorphosis into a parrot and his theft of food from stable boys, who then urinate on him. THE ENGRAVED ILLUSTRATIONS DEPICT THE PROFESSOR LECTURING KITCHEN STAFF FROM INSIDE A COOKING POT, desperately late for a free lunch, conquered by the Muses, sleeping on a funeral pyre about to be ignited, etc. The sixth and last piece, Le Barbon by J.-L. G. de Balzac (1597-1654), was first published in 1619 and is here repurposed to attack Montmaur. In good condition (some browning and foxing in four quires), without the folding letterpress leaf, from the gastronomy library of baron Pierre de Combrugghe.


¶Bannister, “The Montmaur Affair: poetry versus pedantry in the seventeenth century” in French Studies 33 (1979) 397-410; Adelung, Geschichte der menschlichen Narrheit III: 320-333 Vicaire, Bibliographie gastronomique 332; Tchemerzine, Bibliographie d’éditions originales I: 366; see Fage’s “Pierre de Montmaur le parasite” in Bulletin de la Societé des lettres, sciences et arts de la Corréze III (1881) 371-406 and Drujon’s Les Livres à clef I: 444-447; VD17 12:115545A.

Item #11846

Price: $2,800.00

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