Bibliographical Scrupulousness and Philological Zeal: Conrad Gessner Working on the editio princeps of ‘Ad se ipsum’

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  • 1 Research Assistant, Laboratory of Computational Lexicography, Herzen University, St. Petersburg, Russia,
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The article concerns the history of the first edition of Greek text of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations (1559), printed together with its Latin translation and commentary by Wilhelm Xylander. The Zurich philologist and naturalist Conrad Gessner documented it meticulously from its earliest steps in his Neo-Latin bibliographic handbooks, as well as other printed works and letters, meanwhile contributing somehow to its realization. The controversial issue of Gessner’s and Xylander’s role in the establishing of the text of editio princeps, and thus its attribution, is discussed in detail. The other question under consideration is how Gessner imagined the interaction of humanist philology and bibliography, which had to direct literary history in the age of printed word. Taking into account this particular case of Gessner’s bibliographic and philological inquiry, the author attempts to consider his Bibliotheca universalis not only as seminal compilative and critical work, but also as important means of communication and (self-)stimulation.


The article concerns the history of the first edition of Greek text of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations (1559), printed together with its Latin translation and commentary by Wilhelm Xylander. The Zurich philologist and naturalist Conrad Gessner documented it meticulously from its earliest steps in his Neo-Latin bibliographic handbooks, as well as other printed works and letters, meanwhile contributing somehow to its realization. The controversial issue of Gessner’s and Xylander’s role in the establishing of the text of editio princeps, and thus its attribution, is discussed in detail. The other question under consideration is how Gessner imagined the interaction of humanist philology and bibliography, which had to direct literary history in the age of printed word. Taking into account this particular case of Gessner’s bibliographic and philological inquiry, the author attempts to consider his Bibliotheca universalis not only as seminal compilative and critical work, but also as important means of communication and (self-)stimulation.

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The text usually entitled Meditations (‘Meditationes’ or ‘Ad se ipsum’ in Latin, the latter corresponding to the Greek ‘καθ’ αὑτόν’)1 was a collection of private notes composed by Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (121–180 ce) discussing his life and his self-improvement according to the ideals of stoic philosophy. It was available (at least partially) to a few Eastern and Western European scholars as early as the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.2 For instance, some quotations are preserved in the works of Byzantine monk and preacher Joseph Bryennius (1359–c. 1436/38)3 and German humanist Johannes Reuchlin (1455–1522).4 Meditations was also used by the author of the tenth-century Suda dictionary, widely available in print starting in 1514,5 which contains at least twenty-nine fragments of various sizes from Meditations (most of them unattributed).6

Nevertheless, for the Latin-speaking medieval and Renaissance scholarly world, knowledge about Marcus Aurelius relied mostly on historical accounts7 provided by Athenagoras (second century), Aurelius Victor (De Caesaribus, fourth century) and Julius Capitolinus (the author of Marcus Aurelius’ biography in the Historia Augusta, fourth century8), as well as on a short note in the Suda lexicon (s.v. Μάρκος, ὁ καὶ Ἀντωνῖνος βασιλεὺς ῥωμαίων), where his masterpiece is mentioned as a ‘course of his own life in 12 books’ (‘οὗτος ἔγραψε τοῦ ἰδίου βίου διαγωγὴν ἐν βιβλίοις ιβ΄’).9 The tradition of Marcus Aurelius’ visual representation, based on his equestrian statue on the Capitoline,10 which was often copied and imitated during the sixteenth century, further contributed to his popularity and fame as the philosopher-emperor.11

The public interest in Marcus Aurelius’ life and way of thinking prompted Antonio de Guevara (1480–1545), Spanish preacher and annalist at the court of Carolus V, to compose a forgery: Libro áureo de Marco Aurelio (1528) (‘The golden boke of Marcus Aurelius Emperor and eloquent orator’). De Guevara pretended his book was a translation of a Florentine manuscript describing the biography and views of the emperor,12 including nineteen of his letters. In fact, it is an early modern didactic novel, in which, as recent research has shown, even many of the references to classical authors are fictitious.13 In accordance with the author’s design, the figure of Marcus Aurelius is constructed to provide an instructive example for Christian readers.14 The book was soon translated into various languages, including French, Italian, and English, and widely disseminated throughout Europe.15

Meditations was eventually printed in Zurich at Andreas Gessner’s press in 1559,16 together with Proclus’ treatise on Marinus of Neapolis (fifth century).17 Both texts were included in the Heidelberg manuscript (Codex Palatinus or Toxitanus18), which was lost some time thereafter. As for the name of the editor or, more precisely, the attribution of editorial responsibility, the answer is quite complicated19 and therefore presented in detail in order to clarify the subject and scope of the present article.

From the seventeenth century onward, both in philological and in bibliographical publications, the editio princeps Tigurina was unanimously ascribed to German humanist Wilhelm Xylander (Holtzman, 1532–1576). On this point one need only consult the prefaces to the editions prepared by Johannes Stich (1882), Jan Hendrik Leopold (1908), and Joachim Dalfen (1979).20 Indeed, this attribution was already intimated on the title page of Meric Casaubon’s 1643 edition (‘Guil. Xylander Augustanus Graece et Latine primum edidit’) and in his Prolegomena to the same volume.21 In addition, Johannes Fabricius stated, in the handbook of classical bibliography, Bibliotheca Graeca (1723): ‘Primus e codice Palatino Graece edidit, et suadente Conrado Gesnero Latine vertit etsi non prorsus feliciter, vir doctus Guilelmus Xylander…’ (‘the learned man Wilhelm Xylander was the first to edit [‘Meditations’] in Greek from the codex Palatinus and, on the advice of Conrad Gessner, to translate them into Latin, though not quite well’).22 In the recent survey of the manuscript tradition and the printed history of Meditations provided by Matteo Ceporina, the same version appears to be preferred.23

From the beginning, this view must have been rooted in the fact that Xylander, who translated the text into Latin and composed a short commentary on it, was the sole person (other than the authors and the printer) mentioned on the title page of the editio princeps: ‘Guilielmo Xylandro Augustano interprete: qui etiam Annotationes adiecit’ (‘with a translation by Wilhelm Xylander, who also provided it with commentary’). As the text of the translation with appended commentary (which refers to the Latin version) consists of the first part of the book, the whole volume is launched by Xylander’s opening letter, addressed to his influential compatriot from Augsburg, Georg von Stetten (1489–1562): ‘Vere nobili viro Georgio a Stetten iuniori, patricio Augustano, summa sibi observantia colendo, Guilelmus Xylander Augustanus. S.’,24 which seems to be the second reason for this attribution. The third reason relates to the fact that in 1568, ten years after the publication of the Zurich edition, Xylander himself issued editionem alteram in Basel, this time as part of a collection of works of Greek authors (most of them from the second and third centuries ce), printed in Greek and in Latin translation.25

Xylander’s derogatory statements concerning the poor quality of the first edition (‘disgustingly flawed by the typographical negligence, and simply so [badly] published, that it could most justly be considered unpublished’26) in the second edition (‘M. Antonini … de vita sua Libri xii, ab innumeris quibus antea scatebant mendis repurgati’ – ‘Twelve books on his own life by M. Antoninus, cleansed of errors they swarmed with previously’) must have prompted some neglect towards the editio princeps among philologists and bibliographers, who were often one and the same persons. For instance, although Meric Casaubon (1599–1671) possessed a copy of the first edition, he relied generally on the second edition (‘secunda ac melior Xylandrina editio’ – ‘the second, and better, edition by Xylander’).27 It could not but affect his bibliographical presentation; Casaubon’s description of the editio princeps (‘It was the year 1558 from the birth of the Saviour, when Wilhelm Xylander from Augsburg for the first time published this divine offspring of Antoninus, retrieved by Conrad Gessner from the caches of the Palatine library’28) reproduced Xylander’s account from the preface to the second edition. Had Casaubon consulted Gessner’s preface29 to the editio Tigurina, however, he would not have dated it to 1558, and would have named Michael Toxites as the source of the manuscript.

An important circumstance, which could favor the availability of the second edition in European libraries and its scholarly reception, was the prominence of Basel as a center of Greek printing,30 which ensured wide and well-established distribution. For instance, Thomas Gataker (1574–1654), another English editor of Meditations, confessed that his knowledge of ‘Xylandri prior Tigurina [editio]’ was based on its mention in the preface to the editio altera and his glimpse of it from Meric Casaubon’s hands.31

The alternative attribution of the editio princeps to Swiss humanist and naturalist Conrad Gessner (1516–1565), who procured the Heidelberg manuscript and arranged its printing at his cousin’s press, was, to my knowledge, established considerably later – in the twentieth century, with the growing interest in Gessner’s works and biography. This attribution was first stated by Charles Salzmann in 1960: ‘daher sollte man die Editio princeps des Mark Aurel ΤΩΝ ΕΙΣ ΕΑΥΤΟΝ “Gesneriana” benennen’.32 It was soon repeated by Hans Fischer,33 and subsequently affirmed by Hans Wellish in the bio-bibliography of Gessner’s works (1975).34 All these authors, terse in style and argumentation, relied mostly on Gessner’s own testimony, adduced in his autobibliographical letter to the English naturalist William Turner (1508–1568), as well as on Gessner’s dedication letter to Anton Werter, baron of Beichlingen (‘ΕΥΓΕΝΕΣΤΑΤΩΙ ΑΝΔΡΙ ΑΝΤΩΝΙΩΙ ΒΕΡΤΗρῳ Βειχλίγγης δεσπότῃ Κονρᾶδος Γεσνῆρος εὖ πράττειν ξὺν Θεῷ…’35), written in Greek and preceding the second (Greek) part of the editio Tigurina. This attribution was recently supported by Dr. Clemens Müller,36 to whom I am indebted for friendly support and discussion of several aspects of my study.

It should be noted that the proponents of both versions have hardly considered each other’s reasons. The classicists have generally ignored the sixteenth-century data relating to the emergence of the editio princeps, even citing relevant testimonies as second hand.37 Most remarkable is their ignorance of Gessner’s bibliographical works, which reflect the state of editorial activity in the field of classical philology (as concerns both the texts and studies).38 Gessner scholars, in turn, seem to ignore the philological value of Xylander’s annotations (appended to the Latin translation) and their influence on the text established in the editio princeps. In his preface to the translation, as well as in the commentary, Xylander dealt with conceivably corrupted readings, interpolations, and obscure places in the manuscript, with some of his conjectures still incorporated into modern critical editions of the ‘Meditations’ (e.g., Σέξτου instead of ms. Ξέστου (I. 9), ἀνεκτέον in the place of ms. ἀνακτέον (V. 20) etc.).39

This article attempts to reconstruct the history of Marcus Aurelius’ editio princeps from the vantage point of Conrad Gessner as philologist and bibliographer, who both contributed to its publication and meticulously documented the steps leading to its materialization. In so doing, I shall take into account the testimonies concerning Gessner’s interest in Marcus Aurelius’ book, the acquisition of the manuscript, and his editorial work on it. It will also be necessary to address the aforementioned question of attribution, and to discuss the respective influence of Gessner and Xylander on the realization of the first printed text of the Meditations. But this should be regarded as a parergon, albeit an important one. The main subject of this essay will be the humanist philological praxis and its relation to bibliography.

The first testimonies of Gessner’s interest in the philosophical work of Marcus Aurelius are preserved in the alphabetical volume of his Bibliotheca universalis, printed in 1545.40 In the entry on ‘Antoninus Augustus’,41 to whom Gessner ascribed both the Meditations and the Antonine itinerary,42 nothing is said about the content of Ad se ipsum. Only the existence of an Italian manuscript is stated: ‘Antonini Augusti itinerarium ex Aldi officina prodivit. Eiusdem liber ἐκ τῶν καθ’αὑτόν, Romae servatur Graece’ (‘The Itinerary by Antoninus Augustus came out from Aldus’ press. A manuscript ἐκ τῶν καθ’ αὐτόν by the same author, in Greek, is held in Rome’).43 ‘Romae’ refers to the Vatican Library; Gessner became acquainted with its catalogues during his journey to Italy in 1543,44 which contributed greatly to his bibliographic research.45 According to the wording of the title – ἐκ τῶν καθ’αὑτόν [‘from the (book) for himself’] instead of τὰ καθ’αὑτόν [‘a (book) for himself’] – this could have been one of the fragmentary Codices Vaticani, still available today.46

However, Gessner’s special curiosity regarding Marcus Aurelius is attested to as early as the first pages of the handbook, in the Epistula nuncupatoria, where he adduces a quotation from the letter of the Roman Emperor Julian (Flavius Claudius Iulianus, 331–363 ce), addressed to Ekdikios, the hyparch of Egypt, but ascribed by him mistakenly to ‘M. Antoninus imperator cognomento Pius & philosophus’,47 who presumably ‘wrote about himself’48 the following:49: ‘Ἄλλοι μὲν ἵππων, ἄλλοι δὲ ὀρνέων, ἄλλοι θηρίων ἐρῶσιν· ἐμοὶ δὲ βιβλίων κτήσεως ἐκ παιδαρίου δεινὸς ἐντέτηκε πόθος’50 (Jul. Epist. 23).

The particular importance of this text (which fits the character of the dedicatee51librorum helluo, a ‘prodigal book purchaser’) for Gessner is stressed by the fact that this is one of only two Greek quotations in the entire preface, whereas Gessner’s predilection for Greek was quite overt since his school years. Thus, in 1532 he composed a book of Greek Thrinodiae52 in commemoration of his teacher and patron Huldrych Zwingli (1484–1531), while in the 1545 Greek-Latin dictionary, Gessner confessed that if he had to choose between Greek and Latin, he would surely prefer Greek, on account of the intellectual wealth of Greek philosophy as well as the pleasure he took in reading Greek authors.53 Greek type is also used at the beginning of Epistola nuncupatoria to cite a proverbial line from Homer’s Iliad concerning Diomedes and Glaucus exchanging their armors: ‘χρύσεα χαλκείων, ἑκατόμβοι᾽ ἐννεαβοίων’.54 Yet Homer’s name, being self-evident, was left unspoken, which makes even more urgent the question of Gessner’s reasons for adducing the wrong author’s name for the second quotation. Did he knowingly falsify the attribution? Or was it rather a consequence of his ignorance? Or a lapsus memoriae?

That Gessner was acquainted with Julian’s letters, which were published in the second volume of Epistolae diversorum philosophorum, oratorum, rhetorum (Venice: Aldus Manutius, 1499),55 is evidenced by the corresponding article in the Bibliotheca universalis (s.v. ‘Julianus princeps Romanus’). There we find a detailed description of the Aldine edition,56 which includes not only the calculation of the number of quires filled with Julian’s correspondence, but also the full list of Julian’s addressees. As Julian was not mentioned in Johannes Trithemius’s Church bibliography (De scriptoribus ecclesiasticis), Gessner was the first to give a bibliographic account of his works and could not have relied on any source other than his own personal inspection. His description continues with a register of letters: ‘The first letter lacks inscription, the following ones are inscribed: to Proaeresius, to Libanius (twice), to Aristomenes philosopher, to Theodora, to Ecdicius the hyparch of Egypt (twice), etc.’.57

In this list, Gessner relied on Greek headings adduced in Aldus’ edition; he translated the titles verbatim (cf. 4. Αριστομένει Φιλοσόφῳ – Aristomeni philosopho; 27. Λιβανίῳ σοφιστῇ καὶ κοαίστωρι – Iterum ad Libanium sophistam et quaestorem; 35. Ανεπίγραφος ὑπὲρ ἀργείων – Sine inscriptione pro Argivis, etc.) and strictly followed their order in publication, but eliminated repetitions. He overlooked several titles, possibly owing to the dense text format. Sometimes, he even added some information on the content of the letters missing in the titles: 25. ‘Lex de medicis, qua donat eos immunitate’58 (in Greek ‘Νόμος περὶ τῶν ἰατρῶν’); 42. ‘Sine inscriptione de religione gentilium, & de Christianis’59 (Greek text lacks inscription); 43. ‘Ad Hecebolum de Arianis in Edessa civitate’60 (in Greek only ‘Εκηβόλῳ’). It appears that Gessner looked through the text of the letters, or at the very least through their first lines. Thus, he could hardly have bypassed Julian’s confession, which begins one of the letters.61

The question is why and how did he attribute the work to Marcus Antoninus? To assume a lapsus memoriae is hardly a sound explanation. By 1545, Gessner was not acquainted with any fragment of the Meditations (even those preserved in quotations elsewhere) – otherwise he would not have omitted this acquaintance in his article on ‘Marcus Antoninus’.62 It is more probable that Gessner consciously refrained from crediting Julian as the author of the phrase since Julian, being an Apostate – ‘Christianae fidei desertor’– would not be a suitable role model as a teacher and a paragon of behavior.63 We may conclude, therefore, that Gessner was already charmed by the figure of Marcus Aurelius (as was Julian, who had praised Marcus, for instance, in his letter to Themistius the philosopher64). It may just be a curious coincidence, but Marcus Aurelius’ name was again tied to a literary hoax.

In August 1543, the systematic volume of Gessner’s universal bibliography, the Pandects (1548), was issued from Froschauer’s press. Marcus Antoninus is mentioned in the twelfth book, ‘On history’, under the title ‘De singulis imperatoribus, ordine temporum observato’.65 We find therein several references to Caelius Rhodiginus, Petrus Crinitus, and Antonio de Guevara (who pretended to publish some letters by Marcus Aurelius), as well as to ‘apophthegmata Antonini’, annotated by Erasmus.66 Marcus Aurelius’ philosophical work was not even listed by Gessner, so it most likely remained unknown to him.

For the third revised edition of the alphabetical volume of Bibiliotheca, printed in March 1555, Josias Simmler penned a new preface, but paradoxically borrowed the Greek aphorism from Gessner’s text, with the same misattribution.67 In the article ‘Marci Antonii [sic!] imperatoris’ we find an addendum: ‘The Emperor M. Antoninus has left to his son and successor a book of imperial institutions composed by himself, which is said to be full of examples and learning of every kind. Nicephorus [Callistus Xanthopulus] in the Ecclesiastical history [iii, 31]’.68 The Meditations seem obviously to be the subject of the description; the passage thus testifies to Gessner’s continuing bibliographical activity but not to his acquaintance with Marcus Aurelius’ work.

The very beginning of 1556 (or late 1555)69 should be regarded as a terminus post quem for the planning of the editio princeps. In his letter to Kaspar von Niedbruck, dated 2 February 1556, Gessner clearly stated that ‘recently’ he had obtained a Greek codex which contained twelve books ‘περὶ τῶν καθ’ἑαυτόν’; presumably he was already familiar with their contents as he called the argument ‘ethical, stoic and peripatetic’.70 As we know from Gessner’s statement from a later date (see below), the book came from the Bibliotheca Palatina and was handed over via Michael Toxites,71 a poeta laureatus and Paracelsian physician, patronized by the Elector Palatine Otto Henry (1502–1559).

The manuscript was once again mentioned by Gessner in the preface to his translation of Athenagoras’ Apology for the Christians, addressed to the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. It was printed by Henri Estienne along with the Greek text in 1557. In the prefatory letter (dated 5 February) Gessner wrote: ‘And the emperor Antoninus, to whom he [Athenagoras] appealed, was a prominent philosopher, as it is clear, for instance, from the twelve books, written by him in Greek and containing “His notes to himself”, which I possess now’.72 This statement is remarkable owing to a slight change in the wording of the book’s title, which differs from that adduced in the Bibliotheca: καθ᾽αὑτὸν (‘for himself’) becomes εἰς ἑαυτὸν (‘to himself’), and in this form it appears in the editio princeps.73 Thus, we may infer that in the years 1556–1557, Gessner already possessed the manuscript of Ad se ipsum, but presumably had not yet arranged its printing. It turned out to be a daunting task: first, publishers feared that an edition of Greek text would find few buyers and, consequently, refused proposals of this kind;74 second, because Gessner did not have sufficient time to translate the Greek text himself, and his attempts to engage an assistant from among his younger compatriots proved unsuccessful.75

The next piece of information on the history of the editio princeps has been found in the fourth volume of Gessner’s Historia animalium (1558). An entry on Marcus Aurelius is inserted in the bibliography of books on fishes (‘Enumeratio authorum, qui de piscibus scripserunt’): it consists of a quotation from Lilio Giraldi’s Historia poetarum and Gessner’s comment upon it. According to Giraldi, ‘Marcus Antoninus, emperor and philosopher, wrote something on fishes, and some of his writings are still extant’.76 This assumption can be explained by the fact that in a number of fourteenth and fifteenth century manuscripts (now called ‘codices classis X’) the fragments from Ad se ipsum were interspersed with excerpts from Aelianus’ De natura animalium, without mentioning the latter’s name.77 Among these, for instance, was a chapter about the fish scarus (Ael. na i, 4). Thus, it may be reasonable to suppose that Giraldi or one of his sources relied on a ‘codex excerptorum’ from the Meditations. Gessner, however, did not approve of Giraldi’s view: he took it as scarcely probable, ‘that a philosopher of such kind would be pleased to discuss fishes’.78

One may wonder what reasons he could have had for including this presumably erroneous statement in the handbook. There may be at least two answers – a methodological and a practical one. On the one hand, Gessner considered compiling handbooks to be a way of maintaining the literary tradition as a whole, preserving all testimonies found anywhere from loss and oblivion (due to the destruction of libraries and decay of education79). He believed that encyclopedias should summarize the useful data found in any other type of book (becoming therefore a kind of ‘books of books’ – ‘ex omnibus opus unum absolutum’80) or obtained from other people, rather than be based solely on a set of approved literature.81 Gessner subscribed to the famous motto of Pliny the Elder, transmitted by his nephew, that ‘no book was so bad but some profit might be gleaned from it’ (Plin. Ep. 3, 5, 10).82 In the preface to the Historia animalium he dwelled on ways of dealing with erroneous opinions preserved in the sources:83 ‘And I did not want to neglect writings of any whatsoever author […] But when I came across the information, that was wrong or somewhat absurd, I either eliminated it at all, or adduced it to give a refutation’.84 Marcus Aurelius’ ‘book on fishes’ obviously belongs to the second class: ‘posui ut arguerem’ – Gessner quoted the inept statement just to show its ineptness.

On the other hand, the reference to Marcus Aurelius provided Gessner with a good opportunity to advertise the forthcoming edition. He added: ‘I suppose that none of his works are extant apart from 12 books περὶ τῶν καθ᾽ ἑαυτὸν (or, as Suda quotes, ‘τοῦ ἰδίου βίου διαγωγὴν ἐν βιβλίοις ιβ’ [‘the course of his own life in 12 books’]) that, I hope, will come soon from my cousin’s press’.85 One often comes across such advertisements in Gessner’s publications – written by himself or by the printer.86 For instance, in the first volume of the Historia animalium, Christoph Froschauer (in the announcement ‘Typographus lectori’, printed amid other paratexts) promised to publish an abridged version of the handbook, that gave him the opportunity to also mention the forthcoming ‘Epitome’ of another Gessner’s opus magnumBibliotheca universalis.87

As for the history of Marcus Aurelius’ editio princeps, the above-mentioned announcement informs us that (1) the manuscript, which Gessner had received, was not the Roman manuscript (as it is clarified: ‘These books are also held in the Vatican library’); (2) Gessner had already decided to print the book at Andreas Gessner’s press, by no means the best publisher of Greek texts,88 but probably the only one at Gessner’s disposal in this enterprise.89

It strikes me as important, before we approach the final stage of the story, to dwell on the causes of Gessner’s concern for the fate of this manuscript. We should remember that despite his contribution to many editions of Greek and Roman authors,90 Gessner never professed to be a classical scholar. Furthermore, in the 1550s he was preoccupied, working on various zoological and botanical handbooks, teaching physics at the Collegium Tigurinum, and treating patients and managing pharmacies (as a Stadtarzt).91 Thus, from the outset, apart from his humanistic and bibliographical passion for ancient books and the fortuitous discovery of the Heidelberg codex, other motives both explained and spurred Gessner’s pursuit:

  1. (1)He perceived Marcus Aurelius as an exemplary ruler, a philosopher who reached the height of human wisdom92 and a lover of books. Gessner accorded particular significance to the liberality of Marcus Aurelius (‘M. Antonini liberalitas’) and his activity as Maecenas. According to the story told by Niccolo Leoniceno, the emperor ordered that Oppian (the author of Greek poems on fishing, hunting, and bird catching – thus, Gessner’s colleague of a sort) be rewarded with a golden coin for every line of verse.93 Gessner referred to this story at least three times in the first94 and the second volume95 of the Bibliotheca, and referenced it again in the preface to the fourth book of the Historia animalium (1558).96 Thus, Marcus Aurelius was the kind of patron that Gessner himself hoped to find.97
  2. (2)The Ad se ipsum was, in a sense, a book of notes (regardless of whether intended for personal use – hypomnemata – or as drafts for a book of ‘exhortations’) that included, beyond the emperor’s own thoughts, multiple quotations from philosophical and poetic sources, most of them anonymous, as the work was not intended for publication.98 The history of the transmission of the text may also be significant in this respect, as several dozen late medieval codices are preserved, containing excerpts from the Meditations.99 Gessner enjoyed the practice of excerpting100 and the genre of florilegium; by 1559 he had edited several Greek anthologies – Sententiae by Ioannes Stobaeus (1543, 1549, and 1559) and Sententiae sive capita by the monks Antonius and Maximus (1546) – and prepared a topically organized school edition of Martialis’ Epigrammata (1544).101
  3. (3)Meditations, despite being a monument of pagan philosophy, could nevertheless be useful to a Christian reader as a moral guide (in this respect, one might compare Marcus Aurelius102 with his teacher Epictetus,103 whose Encheiridion became the subject of Christian adaptations104). This aspect is treated with the greatest attention by Gessner in the preface to the Greek text. Although he acknowledges that philosophical and theological speculations of Greeks and other ‘gentiles’ were mostly nonsense and impious in comparison with Christian wisdom,105 he ranks Stoics among ‘less contemptuous’ philosophers (‘ἧττον δὲ μεμπτοὶ’) because they considered virtue the source of all human bliss.106 For Gessner, the utility of the Stoic way of thinking was tethered, for instance, to the awareness of human weakness,107 which leads to the search for perfection not within an individual, but from the outside and above.108 Gessner had already pointed to some similarities between pagan and Christian reasoning in his preface to the 1543 edition of Stobaeus’ Anthology:109

    ‘What can be said as much Christian (I speak about life and deeds, not about faith) as the maxims often repeated in Plato’s dialogues: It is better to endure injustice than to commit it, Miserable is this one who does not atone for sins, Do not do to another that you do not want to be done for you? … Socrates, Pythagoras and other pure philosophers like them, if they had lived in our times, even among those who profess Christianity, they would have been honored as saints, due to their moral teaching’.110

Though he admired Marcus Aurelius’ work, Gessner nevertheless could not afford to spend much time on its translation. Therefore, he assigned the task to Wilhelm Xylander (1532–1576),111 a young, brilliant classical scholar from Augsburg, who had studied philosophy at the university in Basel and had obtained a master’s degree in philosophy in 1558 and who was working for the celebrated Basilean printer Johannes Oporin, with whom Gessner stayed in regular contact.112 In 1556 Xylander edited and translated into Latin a Byzantine scholarly compendium (‘Liber de quatuor Mathematicis scientiis’) by Michael Psellos (eleventh century).113 In 1557 he worked on the translation of Roman History by Dio Cassius (c. 155–235 ce), provided it with extensive notes, which included multiple emendations of the Greek text printed earlier by Robert Estienne. The work was published by Oporin in the spring of 1558.114 In the same year Xylander edited Latin translations of Euripides’ tragedies115 and composed a commentary to Theocritus (Xylander’s prefaces are dated 29 August and 31 August 1558, respectively);116 he was also commissioned to translate Plutarch’s Parallel lives, but this task must have been accomplished somewhat later, as the book was issued in 1561. Thus, by 1558 Xylander was already well-known as an expert in Greek and a meticulous philologist, as well as a Neo-Latin and Greek poet; he was also quite familiar with Greek literature of the Imperial period. Thus, Gessner’s decision to charge him with the translation of Marcus Aurelius was by no means incidental.

Gessner and Xylander’s Work on the editio princeps

The fact that Gessner provided a preface to the Greek part of the volume – that is, stricto sensu, the editio princeps – might itself exemplify his editorial responsibility in this undertaking. Unfortunately, in the text he described his own role rather vaguely: ‘τούτου [Ἀντωνίνου] τὰ βιβλία … διὰ τῆς ἡμετέρας ἐπιμελείας ἀμωσγέπως, νῦν πρῶτον ἐτυποθέντα’ (‘his [M. Antoninus’] books … printed now for the first time, due to our care of some kind’).117 It may be complemented, though, by a communication of a later date found in Gessner’s autobibliographical letter to his friend, English natural historian William Turner (c. 1509–1568), dated 28 August 1562; its text was later reproduced in the article s.v. Conradus Gesnerus in the posthumous edition of the Bibliotheca prepared by Josias Simmler in 1574:118

‘M. Antonini imperatoris Romani et philosophi de seipso seu vita sua libros xii, una cum Marini Neapolitani libro de Procli vita & felicitate, Graecos e bibliotheca illustrissimi principis Othonis Henrici, cum vir doctrina excellens Michael Toxites nobis communicasset, describendos curavi, et ad archetypum contuli, et patrueli Andreae anno 1558. cudendos dedi una cum translationibus Latinis … Chartae sunt triginta in 8’ (‘As Michael Toxites, a man of excellent learning, had provided me with twelve books ‘De seipso seu vita sua’ by the Roman emperor and philosopher M. Antoninus together with the book on Proclus’ life and beatitude by Marinus Neapolitanus, both in Greek from the library of illustrious prince Otto Henry, I commissioned their copy, and collated it with the original text, and transmitted it in the year 1558 to my cousin Andreas, intended for being printed, together with Latin translations… 30 sheets in-8’).’119

Gessner’s wording here leads the reader to believe that the apograph was commissioned and produced shortly before printing. However, according to Xylander’s 1568 preface, he used a copy from the Codex Palatinus when working on the translation in 1558, and in his reference to its provenance he followed up on Gessner’s words: ‘the manuscript of Antoninus, which I used, had been copied from the book, which belonged to Otto Henry, the prince elector of the Palatinate, as Gessner affirmed’ (‘nam Antonini exemplum quo usus sum, de Palatini Electoris … Othonis Henrici … libro fuisse transsumptum, Gesnerus … affirmavit’).120 It appears, then, that the copy at Xylander’s disposal was the same one Gessner had mentioned in his autobibliography.

Now it becomes possible to outline chronologically the formative steps in the history of the editio princeps. In 1556 or slightly earlier (but after the Epitome bibliothecae had been printed), Gessner received the Heidelberg manuscript from Michael Toxites. The manuscript contained the Greek text of the Meditations as well as Marinus’ work. Soon thereafter, he commissioned a copy and took care to ensure its accuracy. Around or slightly after April 1556, when Michael Toxites visited Zürich,121 the original manuscript may have been returned to him. Presumably in the spring of 1558, when Xylander had finished his work on Dio Cassius (which he mentioned in the commentary on Marcus Aurelius: ‘editio Xiphilini cum Dione nostro editi’122), Gessner sent him the copy and charged him with the translation of Marcus Aurelius’ work into Latin. Xylander’s preface to the Latin translation was dated 1 October 1558 (‘Calendis Octobribus. Anno salutis 1558’),123 whereas Gessner’s foreword to the Greek text was finished by the middle of February 1559 (‘ἔτει σωτηρίας ᾳφνθ. φεβρυαρίου124 μηνὸς μεσοῦντος’).125 This leads us to conclude that in October 1558 Xylander sent the manuscript back to Gessner along with the Latin translation and commentary, and Gessner still had a couple months to get acquainted with Xylander’s emendations ad prelum.

For the dating of the editio princeps, Gressner’s preface composed in February 1559 should serve as a terminus post quem: Gessner probably had already brought the manuscript to his cousin at the end of 1558 (as he stated in the autobibliography: ‘cudendos dedi’), but the typesetting and correction must have taken a considerable period of time, at the end of which Gessner wrote his Greek prefatory letter. Thus, it seems incorrect to postulate (contrary to vd16 M 963; cf. vd16 M 964) that a variant of the editio princeps could have been printed in 1558, as this assumption must rely solely on the existence of the second (undated) variant of its title page and on the misuse of Xylander’s preface to the Latin translation as the sole chronological reference point.

As neither the Codex Palatinus (Toxitanus) nor the copy of it have survived, it is impossible to reconstruct in detail Gessner’s work on the text of the manuscript (supervising its copying and typesetting), particularly his emendations (if there were any). However, as Xylander’s commentary126 appended to the Latin translation contains a number of references to manuscript readings and his own textual conjectures,127 we can compare this data with the printed text in order to get a general impression of Gessner’s impact on the text of the editio princeps.

Relying on this collation, one can conclude that Gessner’s apograph of the codex Palatinus must have been quite exact; his own statement on this matter may be corroborated by the fact that on several occasions Xylander referred to marginal notes, which were therefore carefully preserved in Gessner’s copy:

ii.17: X:128 ‘Anima vaga est) ἡ δὲ ψυχὴ ῥομβός [ms]. Est autem altera lectio annotata ῥεμβός [ms var], quam probavi, et secutus sum, neque enim videtur philosophicum esse, animam rhombo (quae est figura quatuor aequalium laterum, non tamen rectangule) comparare’129

iii.2: X: ‘Olivis maturissimis) In Graeco legitur δρυπέπισι [ms], scribendum δρυπεπέσι. Sed et δρυπετέσι [ms var] legi potest (quae lectio erat in margine annotata) ut sint olivae prae maturitate iam de arbore decidentes: quarum similitudine usus est infra libro quarto’130

Elsewhere, a scribal note was equally preserved in the text:

vii.51–52: ‘οὐκ ἔστιν ἀρχὴ τοῦτο, ἀλλ’τῶν ἀνωτέρω τῶν πρὸ τῶν πλατωνικῶν συναφές’;131 Xylander omitted it from the translation,132 but preserved it in the Greek text of the second edition.133

It is noteworthy that in nine of twenty-five places commented upon by Xylander, his emendations were accepted in the editio princeps, though in other cases (sixteen of twenty-five) manuscript readings (including variant readings) were maintained. One may consult several examples below:

G = ms:

I.16: X: καὶ τοῖς τοιούτοις ἀνθρώποις [ms] vitiose, lego καὶ τοῖς τοιούτοις, καὶ ἀνθρώπου; G: καὶ τοῖς τοιούτοις ἀνθρώποις;134

iv.18: X: κατὰ τὸν ἀγαθόν [ms]. forte Ἀγάθωνα; G: κατὰ τὸν ἀγαθόν;135

vi.30: X: τὸ εὐόδιον [lit. ‘having a good way’] τοῦ προσώπου [ms]. legi εὔδιον [‘calm, soft’]; G: εὐόδιον;136

G = X

i.9: X: Ξέστου [ms] lego Σέξτου; G: Σέξτου;137

iii.14: X: εἰς θέλος [ms]. lego εἰς τέλος; G: εἰς τέλος;138

iv.24: X: μήποτε ἄμεινον τ’ἀναγκαῖα [ms], nisi fallor, sensus ipse ostendit esse legendum μηδὲν ἄμεινον του [‘nothing fits better than’]; G: μηδὲν ἄμεινον του;139

Attributing ultimate editorial responsibility to Conrad Gessner seems the most likely explanation for the ratio of Xylander’s conjectures and the Greek text of the editio princeps. However, it is important to keep in mind that Gessner relied heavily on Xylander’s conjectures and Xylander used a copy of the codex Palatinus made under Gessner’s supervision. We can only wonder if the collation (‘ad archetypum contuli’) Gessner mentioned entailed only elimination of discrepancies from the archetype or if it also allowed for minor emendations. Moreover, the accuracy and completeness of the copy could also be the result of Gessner’s conscious decisions. Taking into account his long interest in Marcus Aurelius’ personality and literary work, as well as his role in the editorial undertaking and the fact that he included this edition in his autobibliography, it might be more equitable to label the 1559 edition the editio Gesneriana – though the authorship of every emendation should be established individually.

This case study, apart from touching on some outlandish phenomena and trends in the history of scholarship and publishing (such as Graeca non leguntur or recentiores negleguntur), provides a better understanding of Gessner’s conception of bibliography and its relation to philology. This subject is of historical interest owing not so much to the importance of Gessner’s own philological legacy, but to the wide reception of his seminal handbook ‘Bibliotheca universalis’ and its abridged and revised editions. Gessner’s views on literary history were basically humanistic: his search for manuscripts and their conversion into print was conceived as a remedy against the deplorable loss of a significant portion of the classical (and pre-classical) literary legacy, which he equated with the loss of knowledge.140 Hence, the task of the philologist, as he saw it, was to inventory literary remnants of any sort, and to edit and publish them with the requisite commentaries and indices. The bibliography, in turn, should document and embody both the initial and the final stages of the scholarly project.

At the very outset, bibliography gives impetus and direction to philological work, indicating the existence of unedited manuscripts or revealing gaps in the study of literary works. In the Bibliotheca universalis Gessner was particularly eager to call attention to manuscripts of unpublished Greek writings, relying on his own primary research in Switzerland and Italy as well as on information received from colleagues and correspondents. The relevant articles of the handbook were provided with references like ‘vidi manuscriptum Bononiae apud S. Salvatorem’, ‘extat Graece in Italia’, ‘hanc inscriptionem legi in Graeco catalogo bibliothecae Vaticanae’ etc.141 He also listed unpublished writings of his contemporaries, such as Theodor Bibliander, Johannes Frisius, Guillaume Postel, etc.142

At the end of the journey, the bibliographer’s task is to describe the published work and map it onto the history of knowledge. Obvious as this task may seem, the case of Gessner reaped some curious fruit. In 1563 Gessner edited an unpublished cookbook (Ars magirica, hoc est coquinaria) by the late philologist and physician Jodocus Willich (1501–1552), whose manuscript he had borrowed from Johannes Oporin some three years earlier.143 The text was finally printed in Zurich at his cousin’s press and was supplemented with some additional materials intended to avoid empty pages: ‘Ne quid hic [...] chartae vacaret’144 (a common explanation in such cases). In the supplement, which fills an entire quire, Gessner quoted some excerpts from his bibliographical handbooks, situating the Ars magirica within Jodocus Willich’s writings and in the history of the art of cookery. A new entry, describing the actual edition, follows quotations: ‘His postremo accedit liber posthumus de arte magirica, quem primum Iac. Gesnerus excudit Tiguri 1563. in 8’.145 Thereby the edition, which was just about to leave the printing house, was already provided with a bibliographical description, in this way becoming part of book history.

In Gessner’s bibliographic project, Meditations by Marcus Aurelius has likewise gone from being mentioned in testimonies as a text that once existed or was preserved in fragments to being listed among translated works and printed books. Gessner not only made sure to update the bibliographical information, but also to promote the edition at all its stages. Thus, by personal example, he conferred on the alliance of bibliography and philology a high degree of entelechy.


This essay was supported by the rfbr, research project РФФИ № 20-012-00357. I am indebted to Ann Blair, Urs Bernhard Leu and Clemens Müller for advice during my work on this subject; I would also like to thank Mordechai Feingold and Daniel Palmer for their help with editing the English text.


Both appear to be later inventions, as the title was probably lacking in Marcus Aurelius’ authograph, which was not intended for publication (see: Pierre Hadot, La citadelle intérieure: Introduction aux Pensées de Marc Aurèle, 2 éd. (Paris, 1997), 37–39; Richard Rutherford, ‘Aurelius, Marcus’, in Oxford Classical Dictionary, eds. Simon Hornblower, Anthony Spawforth, 3rd ed. (Oxford, 2005), 220–221.


Cf. Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations of the emperor Marcus Antoninus, ed. Arthur S. L. Farquharson (Oxford, 1968 [1944]), i: XX-XXII; Matteo Ceporina, Prolegomeni a un nuovo testo di Marco Aurelio: [Tes. di dott.] (Padova, 2012), 21–32; Matteo Ceporina, ‘The Meditations’, in A Companion to Marcus Aurelius, ed. Marcel van Ackeren (Chichester, 2012), 45–61.


See: David A. Rees, ‘Joseph Bryennius and Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations’, Classical Quarterly 52 (2000), 584–96.


He quoted ‘Ad se ipsum’ (iv, 26; iv, 36; vii, 23) in the 2nd book of ‘De arte Cabalistica’; recently another 15 quotations and adaptations (most of them anonymous) were identified by Pierre Vesperini in ‘De verbo mirifico’ and Capnion’s letters (from books iii, v, vii, viii, ix, x and xi): Pierre Vesperini, Matteo Ceporina, ‘Quinze citations de Marc Aurèle dans Reuchlin’, Revue de philologie, de littérature et d’histoire anciennes Sér. 3, lxxxix (2015), 123–150. Philip Melanchthon mentions in Reuchlin’s biography ‘the book by the emperor Marcus Antoninus’ among Greek manuscripts from Reuchlin’s private library bequeathed by him to the University of Pforzheim: ‘In Testamento cum alia pie mandavit, tum vero libros Ebreos & Graecos donavit collegio Phorcensi… Sunt autem ibi et scripta nondum edita in officinis typographicis, videlicet Marci Antonini Imperatoris liber…’ (Philip Melanchthon, ‘Oratio continens historiam Ioannis Capnionis Phorcensis, etc. Recitata a Martino Simone Brandeburgensi’, in Selectarum declamationum Philippi Melanthonis, quas conscripsit, & partim ipse in Schola Vitebergensi recitavit, partim aliis recitandas exhibuit T. 3 (Strassburg, 1562), 280–299, here 296).


svida. ΣΟΥΪΔΑ (Venetiis, 1514): cnce 37492.


Fifteen of them from the first book. The others from books iiv, ix and xi, according to Francesca Schironi (Francesca Schironi, ‘Il testo di Marco Aurelio conservato dalla Suda’, Studi classici e orientali 47 (2002), 209–33). It should be noted, that at the end of the 9th century a manuscript of ‘Meditations’ was discovered by Arethas, Archbishop of Caesarea and a non-negligible promoter of classical literacy, who ordered a copy made (on Arethas see: Paul Lemerle, Le premier humanisme byzantin: Notes et remarques sur enseignement et culture à Byzance, des origines au Xe siècle (Paris, 1971), 205–241).


Cf.: Julia Bruch, Katrin Herrmann, ‘The Reception of the Philosopher-King in Antiquity and the Medieval Age’, in A Companion to Marcus Aurelius, ed. Marcel van Ackeren (Chichester, 2012), 483–496 (here 483–488); Jill Kraye, ‘Marcus Aurelius and Neostoicism in Early Modern Philosophy’, in A Companion to Marcus Aurelius, ed. Marcel van Ackeren (Chichester, 2012), 515–531 (here 516).


According to it (sha Marc. i, 1), Marcus was ‘devoted to philosophy as long as he lived and pre-eminent among emperors in the purity of life’ (‘Marco Antonino, in omni vita philosophanti viro et qui sanctitate vitae omnibus principibus antecellit’: The Scriptores historiae augustae, transl. David Magie (Cambridge, Mass., 1991), I, 132–133).


svida. ΣΟΥΪΔΑ, Ee5a. A brief survey of testimonies on Marcus Aurelius’ life and literary work was provided in the editio princeps; for its comprehensive version with commentary, one should consult the 1643 edition of ‘Meditations’: Marcus Antoninus, De seipso et ad seipsum libri XII, ed. Mericus Casaubonus (London, 1643), A4a-B2b.


Previously situated before the Lateran palace; it was described with admiration in the 12th century, ‘Narratio Magistri Gregorii de mirabilibus urbis Romae’ (chapter 4).


See: Michael P. Mezzatesta, ‘Marcus Aurelius, Fray Antonio de Guevara, and the Ideal of the Perfect Prince in the Sixteenth Century’, The Art Bulletin 66 (1984), 620–633.


Guevara tells about his source in the Prologue: ‘after in revolvynge dyvers bokes, serchyng in dyvers libraries, and also speakynge with divers sages of dyvers realmes, finally I founde this tretise in Florence, among the bokes left there by Cosme de Medicis, a man of good memory’ (Antonio Guevara, The golden boke of Marcus Aurelius Emperour and eloquent oratour (London, 1535), A3a).


Horacio Ch. Rivero, The rise of pseudo-historical fiction. Fray Antonio de Guevara’s novelizations (New York [et al.], 2004), 96–126.


Cf. Mezzatesta, ‘Marcus Aurelius’, 624–626. As for the content of the book, a selection of the chapter titles may be revealing: ‘What sciences Marcus the emperour lerned, And of a mervaylous letter that he sente to Polion. cap. iii’, ‘Howe for the wysedome of Marcus many wyse menne floryshed in his tyme. capitu. iiii’, ‘Howe the maysters of princis ought to kepe them from vices. cap. ix’, ‘Howe the emperour Marcus devyded the houres of the daye for the businesses of thempire <sic!>. capitulo. xviii’, ‘What thought Marcus the emperour toke for the mariage of his doughters. ca. xxxviii’, ‘Howe the emperoure at the houre of his deathe, sente for his sonne, and declared to him, who shuld governe the empire. ca. xliiii.’ etc.: Guevara, The golden boke of Marcus Aurelius, [1]2a-[1]4a.


Cf. Samuel F. W. Hoffmann, Bibliographisches Lexicon der gesamten Litteratur der Griechen 2. Ausg. T. I (Leipzig, 1838), 189–191. Meric Casaubon bitterly acknowledged a wide recognition and dissemination of this ‘sacrilegious fraud’ (‘sacrilega fraus’), which was, according to him, inferior in number of translations and editions only to the books of the Holy Scripture (‘Solis enim Sacris Bibliis exceptis alium vix ullum librum extare puto, qui tot in linguas, Gallicam, Italicam, Anglicam, Germanicam, alias, opinor, omnes Europae linguas semel iterumque translatus, qui repetitis editionibus toties excusus sit’: Marcus Antoninus, De seipso et ad seipsum, *6b). The misidentification of Guevara’s book as Marcus Aurelius’ rediscovered work, by no means overwhelming even in the 16th century, still affects, unexpectedly, the classical bibliography; thus, in the second supplement volume of ‘Neue Paly’ the translations of Guevara’s ‘Marco Aurelio’, issued in London and Venice in the 1530s and 40s, are listed as translations of ‘Ad se ipsum’ (Geschichte der antiken Texte. Autoren- und Werklexikon, hrsg. von Manfred Landfester (Stuttgart, 2007), 393–394).


On the question of dating see below.


M. Antonini Imperatoris Romani et Philosophi De seipso seu vita sua Libri xii. Graece & Latine nunc primum editi, Guilielmo Xylandro Augustano interpreti: qui etiam Annotationes adiecit. Marini Neapolitani De Procli vita et foelicitate liber: Graece Latineque nunc primum publicatus, Innominato quodam interprete, adiectis itidem Scholiis. E bibliotheca illustrissimi principis Othonis Henrici. Tigvri: apvd A. Gesnerum F., 1559. [further: Marcus Antoninus, De seipso seu vita sua (Zurich, 1559)]


By the name of Johann Michael Schütz (Toxites, 1514–1581), who transmitted it to Conrad Gessner (see below).


Its preliminary treatment was published in: Михаил Сергеев, ‘К вопросу об атрибуции editio princeps «Размышлений» Марка Аврелия (1558/1559)’, Книжная старина 3 (Санкт-Петербург, 2015), 110–124.


‘…[liber] primum editus a Guil. Xylandro’ (Marcus Antoninus, Commentariorum quos sibi ipsi scripsit libri XII, recogn. Johannes Stich (Lipsiae, 1882), V), ‘a. 1558 edidit Guil. Xylander’ (Marcus Antoninus, Ad se ipsum, recogn. Jan Hendrik Leopold (Oxonii, [1908]), XI), ‘editio […] instinctu Conradi Gesneri a Guilelmo Xylandro […] curata’ (Marcus Aurelius, Ad se ipsum libri XII, ed. Joachim Dalfen (Lipsiae, 1979), VII-VIII).


Marcus Antoninus, De seipso et ad seipsum, *7b.


Johann A. Fabricius, Bibliotheca Graeca Lib. iv, P. 2 (Hamburg, 1723), 25.


Ceporina, ‘The Meditations’.


Marcus Antoninus, De seipso seu vita sua, 3.


Antonini Liberalis Transformationum congeries. Phlegontis Tralliani de Mirabilibus et longaevis Libellus. Eiusdem De Olympiis fragmentum. Apollonii Historiae mirabiles. Antigoni Mirabil. narrationum congeries. M. Antonini Philosophi Imp. Romani, de vita sua Libri xii. ab innumeris quibus antea scatebant mendis repurgati, et nunc demum vere editi. Graece Latineque omnia, Guil. Xylandro August. interprete: cum Annotationibus et Indice. Basileae: Th. Guarinus, 1568. [further: Marcus Antoninus, De vita sua (Basel, 1568)]


‘foede […] incuria operarum typographicarum depravata, itaque plane edita, ut pro non edita censeri optimo iure posset’: Marcus Antoninus, De vita sua, 4.


The Greek text was printed (with Casaubon’s emendations) from the edition printed in Lyon in 1626 – ‘Xylandrina utraque longe depravatior’ (‘far more corrupted than both of Xylander’s: Marcus Antoninus, De seipso et ad seipsum, *8b), diligently compared by Casaubon with the editio Xylandri Basileana, as he did not have an extra copy of the latter to give it up to typographic needs: Marcus Antoninus, De seipso et ad seipsum, A5a.


‘Annus a parto Salutis Authore 1558 agebatur, cum primum Guil. Xylander Augustanus, divinum hunc Antonini foetum, a Conrado Gesnero ex Bibl. Palatinae latebris erutum, protulit in lucem’: Marcus Antoninus, De seipso et ad seipsum, *7b.


On which see below.


See: Frank Hieronymus, Griechischer Geist aus Basler Pressen (Basel, 1992); a useful comparison of Basel and Zürich as printing centres is provided in: Urs B. Leu, ‘Die Bedeutung Basels als Druckort im 16. Jahrhundert‘, in Basel als Zentrum des geistigen Austauschs in der frühen Reformationszeit, Hrsg. Christine Christ-von Wedel, Sven Grosse, Berndt Hamm (Tübingen, 2014), 53–78.


‘quam [editionem], nisi in Viri Doctiss. manibus, cum me comiter invisisset, q[u]od in Prolegomenis illis ipse commemorat, nunquam oculis usurpavi’ (‘which [edition] I never saw, except for in the hands of the most learned man [sc. Meric Casaubon], when he kindly visited me, as he mentions himself in the Prolegomena’): Marcus Antoninus, De rebus suis, sive de eis, q[u]ae ad se pertinere censebat, Libri xii, ed. Thomas Gataker (Londinatis Cantabrigiae, 1652), ****3b. The ‘Prolegomena’ referred to by Gataker is the title of Casaubon’s lengthy preface to the 1643 edition: Meric Casaubon, ‘In M. Antonini τῶν εἰς ἑαυτὸν libros xii & hanc editionem Prolegomena’, in Marcus Antoninus, De seipso et ad seipsum, A2b-A3b.


Charles Salzmann, ‘Die Editio princeps des Marc Aurel durch Conrad Geßner 1559’, Verhandlungen der Schweizerischen Naturforschenden Gesellschaft. Wissenschaftler und administrativer Teil 140 (1960), 153–154.


Hans Fischer, Conrad Gessner (26. März 1516–13. Dezember 1565). Leben und Werk (Zürich, 1966), 154.


Hans Wellish, ‘Conrad Gessner: a bio-bibliography’, Journal of the Society for the Bibliography of Natural History 7 (1975), 151–247 (№ 46). The second (1984) edition of this bibliography was, unfortunately, not available to me.


Marcus Antoninus, De seipso seu vita sua, 3 (2nd count). The texts from the prefaces, which could support this view, will be quoted later. One should consider, however, that on the additional title page (‘Μαρκου Αντωνινου Αυτοκρατορος και Φιλοσοφου Των εις εαυτον βιβλια ιβ. Tiguri apud Andream Gesnerum F.’) Gessner’s name was still lacking.


Clemens Müller, ‘“Conrado Gesnero Philologo” – Gessners Beiträge zur klassischen Philologie’, in Facetten eines Universums: Conrad Gessner 1516–2016, Hrsg. Urs B. Leu, Mylène Ruoss (Zürich, 2016), 85–98.


For example, both Arthur S. L. Farquharson and Leif Bergson (The Meditations… P. XXIII; Leif Bergson, ‘Fragment einer Marc-Aurel-Handschrift’, Rheinisches Museum für Philologie N. F. 129-2 (1986), 157–169, here 163) quoted Gessner’s letter to William Turner from Boissonade’s preface to the edition of ‘Vita Procli’ by Marinus (Marinus Neapolitanus, Vita Procli, recens. Jean F. Boissonade (Lipsiae, 1814), IX-X); Boissonade, in turn, was acquainted with its text from its partial transcript, made – on his request – by the head of the Library of St. Marc. As a result, all of them omitted this important part, which determined Gessner’s impact on the edition and is referred to by the proponents of the second attribution. This lack of akribeia regarding early modern sources looks even more indecent if we take into account that the text of the letter was printed at least twice during the 16th century and was by no means a rare document.


For the principles of description of classical literary heritage in the ‘Bibliotheca universalis’ see, for instance: Martine Furno, ‘Auteurs antiques (et modernes) dans la Bibliotheca de Conrad Gesner’, in D’une antiquité l’autre: La littérature antique classique dans les bibliothèques du XVe au XIXe siècle, dir. Catherine Volpilhac-Auger (Lyon, 2006), 79–89.


Cf. Marcus Aurelius, Ad se ipsum libri XII, ed. Joachim Dalfen (Lipsiae, 1979), 3, 43.


For the history of the editions of this work see: Alfredo Serrai, Conrad Gesner (Roma, 1990), 203–262; Jan-Dirk Müller, ‘Wissen ohne Subjekt? Zu den Ausgaben von Gesners ‘Bibliotheca universalis’ im 16. Jahrhundert’, In: Jan-Dirk Müller, Mediävistische Kulturwissenschaft: Ausgewählte Studien (Berlin, 2010), 267–284; Михаил Сергеев, ‘Библиографические интересы Конрада Гесснера (1516–1656): к 500-летнему юбилею цюрихского полигистора’, Библиография 1 (2017), 12–22.


The full name of the emperor was Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus, that is why he was often called ‘Marcus Antoninus’ in Medieval and Early Modern sources: the reference to ‘Μάρκος Ἀντωνῖνος’ can also be found in some manuscripts of the ‘Meditations’ and in the Suda (cf. Vesperini, Ceporina, ‘Quinze citations de Marc Aurèle dans Reuchlin’, 143–144). This resulted in his name being confused with emperors Antoninus Pius (Marcus Aurelius’ uncle and stepfather) and Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (Caracalla) in some of sixteenth century testimonies that will be cited and discussed in the article.


Which is now dated to the late third century: Nicholas Purcell, ‘Itineraries’, in Oxford Classical Dictionary, 775.


Conrad Gessner, Bibliotheca universalis, sive catalogus omnium scriptorum locupletissimus (Tiguri, 1545), 53b.


Urs B. Leu, Conrad Gessner (1516–1565): Universalgelehrter und Naturforscher der Renaissance (Zürich, 2016), 127–136.


See: Fiammetta Sabba, La ‘Bibliotheca universalis’ di Conrad Gesner: Monumento della cultura europea (Roma, 2012), 79–123.


The Codex Vaticanus 1950, the unique complete manuscript preserved to our time and studied first by Jean-Pierre de Joly (‘obtinui e bibliotheca Vaticana, sub finem anni 1770, varias lectiones codicis manuscripti, qui opus integrum Antonini complectitur’: Marcus Aurelius, Pugillaria, cur., interpr. Joanne-Petro De Joly (Parisiis, 1774), iii), has been held by the Vatican library since the end of seventeenth century (cf. Ceporina, Prolegomeni, 38) and therefore could not be listed in its sixteenth century catalogues.


A blending of Marcus Aurelius’ and his stepfather’s cognomens.


The wording ‘quod [...] de seipso scripsit’ may be taken as an allusion to the title of Marcus Aurelius’ work.


Gessner, Bibliotheca universalis, *6a.


‘Some men have a passion for horses, others for birds, others, again, for wild beasts; but I, from childhood, have been penetrated by a passionate longing to acquire books’ (transl. by Wilmer C. Wright: Julian, Letters. Epigrams. Against the Galilaeans. Fragments (Cambridge, MA, 1923), 73).


The work is dedicated to Leonhard Beck von Beckenstein (?–1575), counselor to the emperor Charles V, whom Gessner praised as his Maecenas and well-educated noble man (cf.: Ann Blair, ‘The Dedication Strategies of Conrad Gessner’, in Professors, Physicians and Practices in the History of Medicine: Essays in Honor of Nancy Siraisi, eds. Gideon Manning, Cynthia Klestinec (Cham, 2017), 197–238, here 207–208).


Zentralbibliothek Zürich Ms C 50a, Fol. 334-341v. For some religious and linguistic peculiarities of Gessner’s verses see: Katja Vogel, ‘Thrinodiae herois Huldrychi Zwingli – Conrad Gessners dichterischer Nachruf auf Huldrych Zwingli’, in Conrad Gessner (1516 – 1565): Die Renaissance der Wissenschaften / The Renaissance of learning, Hrsg. Urs B. Leu, Peter Opitz (Berlin, 2019), 465–484.


‘Graecam Latinae absque mora praetulerim: quia me solitarium eius lectio magis oblectaret, & ampliorem in omni philosophia profectum inde sperarem’ (Conrad Gessner, ‘De utilitate ac praestantia Graecae linguae, in omni genere studiorum, ad candidos Lectores praefatio’, in Lexicon Graecolatinum (Basileae, 1543), A7a).


‘[giving] golden for bronze, the worth of a hundred oxen for the worth of nine’ (Hom. Il. 6, 236; transl. by Augustus T. Murray: Homer, Iliad Vol. i (Cambridge, MA, 1924), 279).


Epistolae diversorum philosophorum, oratorum, rhetorum Vol. ii (Venetiis, [1499]), 115b-139a.


‘Iulianus princeps Romanus […] multa sermone Graeco composuit, ex quibus ea quae subieci extant. Epistolae aliquot, impressae Venetiis olim ab Aldo, chartis 6. in Graeco volumine epistolarum variorum authorum, in 4.’ (Gessner, Bibliotheca universalis, 469b). The year of publication is not indicated, probably because it was missing in the colophon of the second volume (in contrast to the first volume): ‘Venetiis apud Aldum’ (vol. ii, [139]b); cf. ‘Venetiis apud Aldum mense Martio.’ (vol. I, [266]a).


‘Prima epistola inscriptione caret, sequentes inscribuntur: Proaeresio, Libanio bis, Aristomeni philosopho, Theodorae, Ecdicio hyparcho Aegyptiorum bis, Artabio, Georgio, Byzantiis, Basilio, Iuliano avunculo, Maximo philosopho ter, Oribasio, Hecebolo, Eustochio, Callixenae, Leontio, Hermogeni hyparcho Aegypti. Lex de medicis, qua donat eos immunitate. Praeceptum pro Alexandrinis. Iterum ad Libanium sophistam et quaestorem. Gregorio duci. Alypio fratri Caesarii bis. Aëtio episcopo. Luciano sophistae. Dositheo. Iamblicho phiosopho ter. Sine inscriptione pro Argivis. Porphyrio, vide post 9. versus. Amerio. Sine inscriptione de religione gentilium, & de Christianis. Ad Hecebolum de Arianis in Edessa civitate. Libanio. Zenoni. Tres ultimae sine inscriptione’: Gessner, Bibliotheca universalis, 469b.


‘Law on physicians which provides them with immunity’.


‘Without inscription on pagan religion and about Christians’.


‘To Hecebolus about Arians in the city Edessa’.


Epistolae diversorum philosophorum, I, 117b.


On taking into account fragmentary evidence in the ‘Bibliotheca universalis’, cf.: ‘Anaximander composuit Heroologiam, id est heroum historiam, unde paucula quaedam in Symposiis Athenaei recitantur’ (Gessner, Bibliotheca universalis, 37b); ‘Archilochi poëtae versus aliquoties a Stobaeo citantur. Eiusdem Elegias & Telephum Athenaeus allegat’ (Gessner, Bibliotheca universalis, 69a); ‘Calepini cuiusdam scripta citari invenio in 2. Infortiati de rebus dubiis’ (Gessner, Bibliotheca universalis, 160a); ‘Feldii Alexandrini verba de splene Constantinus Africanus citat libro 5. ca. 12’ (Gessner, Bibliotheca universalis, 240a); ‘Paulus Collectionarius citatur in Boccatii genealogia’ (Gessner, Bibliotheca universalis, 537a); ‘Simplicius magnus philosophus […] Multa ex veterum libris fragmenta recitat, ut poëmatum Parmenidis, Empedoclis, Melissi, & aliorum’ (Gessner, Bibliotheca universalis, 600a). Gessner’s work on the edition of Stobaeus’ Anthology in 1543 must have sharpened his attention to these kinds of sources on literary history (cf. his statement in the Preface: ‘Tot nobis autores ab interitu vindicavit diligentissimus Stobaeus’ – ‘So many authors has protected from destruction the most diligent Stobaeus’: Ioannes Stobaeus, Sententiae ex thesauris Graecorum delectae (Tiguri, 1543), α4b).


Gessner, Bibliotheca universalis, 469b.


‘There was a time when I beleived that I ought to try to rival men who have been most distinguished for excellence, Alexander, for instance, or Marcus…’ (transl. by Wilmer C. Wright: Julian, Works Vol. ii (London, 1913), 203); cf.: Bruch, Herrmann, ‘The Reception of the Philosopher-King’, 487–488.


Conrad Gessner, Pandectarum sive Partitionum universaliumlibri XXI (Tiguri, 1548), 125b.


In fact, there appears to be only one, attributed to another ‘Antoninus’, at least in the ‘Adagiorum Chiliades’, – ‘Nec omnia, nec passim, nec ab omnibus’ (No 1316) – quoted by Ulpian from the letter of emperors Severus and Antoninus: ‘Hoc adagium citatur ab Ulpiano in Pandectis libro primo, titulo De officio proconsulis, ex epistula divi Severi et Antonini imperatorum’ (Érasme de Rotterdam, Les Adages, dir. Jean-Christophe Saladin (Paris, 2013), ii, 221).


‘Laudatissimus Caesar Antoninus, quam studiosus librorum fuerit, ipsius prudentissimum hoc dictum testatur: Ἄλλοι μὲν ἵππων, ἄλλοι δὲ ὀρνέων, ἄλλοι θηρίων ἐρῶσιν·: ἐμοὶ δὲ βιβλίων κτήσεως ἐκ παιδαρίου δεινὸς ἐντέτηκε πόθος’ (Josias Simmler, ‘Illustrissimo … Principi … D. Othoni Henrico Palatino Rheni … S. P. D.’, in Epitome Bibliothecae Conradi Gesneri (Tiguri, 1555), *4a).


‘M. Antoni<n>us imperator filio suo in imperio successori institutionis imperialis librum a se compositum reliquit, qui omnis generis exemplorum & disciplinae plenus fuisse dicitur. Nicephorus in historia ecclesiastica’: Josias Simmler, Epitome Bibliothecae Conradi Gesneri (Tiguri, 1555), 124a. Cf. Nicephorus Callistus Xanthopulus, Ecclesiasticae historiae libri decem & octo, transl. Ioannes Langus (Basileae, 1555), 168.


In either case, it must have preceded Michael Toxites’ sojourn in Zurich in April 1556, assumed by Matteo Ceporina as the moment of the manuscript’s delivery to Conrad Gessner: Ceporina, Prolegomeni, 35.


‘Missus est nuper ad nos codex graecus Antonini imperatoris περὶ τῶν καθ’ἑαυτόν βιβλία ιβ argumenti ferme Ethici, Stoici, Epictetei, hos quoque vel graece vel in utraque lingua edemus aliquando’ (önb, Cod. 9737k: 23a-25a; published in: Giovanni Battista De Toni, ‘Annotazioni ad alcune lettere di Corrado Gesner’, in ΞΕΝΙΑ. Hommage international à l’Université Nationale de Grèce à l’occasion du soixante-quinzième anniversaire de sa fondation (1837–1912) (Athènes, 1912), I, 346–358, here 352–354).


Gessner stayed in contact with Toxites and debated the views of his teacher: cf. Gessner’s letter to him, written in March 1556: zbz Ms. C50a. Fol. 193-195a.


‘Et Antoninus Imperator, apud quem peroravit, summus erat philosophus: quod vel ex libris illis duodecim qui etiam nunc Graece ab eo conscripti περὶ τῶν εἰς ἑαυτὸν, apud me extant, luculenter apparet’: Athenagoras Atheniensis, Apologia pro Christianis, ad imperatores Antoninum et Commodum. De resurrectione mortuorum ([Genevae] 1557), 80.


Marcus Antoninus, De seipso seu vita sua, A1a. Thus it is erroneous to ascribe it to Wihelm Xylander’s decision, as Matteo Ceporina does (‘Nel codice Toxitanus, che fornì il modello dell’editio princeps, pubblicata nel 1559, l’opera non recava alcun titolo. L’intestazione, dovuta certamente a Xylander…’: Ceporina, Prolegomeni, 21).


Cf. in Gessner’s letter to Kaspar von Niedbruck of 20. Apr. 1556: ‘et typographi plerique Graecorum editionem recusant’ (önb, Cod. 10364. Fol. 9, see: De Toni, ‘Annotazioni ad alcune lettere’, 355).


Cf. in the letters of 1556 quoted above: ‘Mihi transferendi e graeco libros (praesertim maiores) otium non est, quod etsi iuniores quidam apud nos praestare mediocriter possent, videntur tamen et illi ad magnos labores suscipiendos segniores’, ‘qui Graece vel describere vel transferre velint, aut possint, apud nos etiam paucissimi reperiantur: fugiunt plerique omnes laborem’ (De Toni, ‘Annotazioni ad alcune lettere’, 352–355).


‘Marcus Antoninus Caesar et philosophus, de piscibus nonnihil scripsit: cuius etiam quaedam extant adhuc, Lilius Greg. Gyraldus’: Conrad Gessner, Historiae Animalium Liber IIII. qui est de Piscium & Aquatilium animantium natura (Tiguri, 1558), b4b. (cf. Lilio Gregorio Giraldi, Historiae poetarum tam Graecorum quam Latinorum dialogi decem (Basileae, 1545), 553).


See: Marcus Aurelius, Ad se ipsum libri XII, ed. Joachim Dalfen (Lipsiae, 1979), XVIII-XIX.


‘Mihi quidem hunc tantum philosophum de piscibus commentari voluisse, vix sit verisimile’: Conrad Gessner, Historiae Animalium Liber IIII, b4b.


As summarized enthusiastically in the ‘Bibliotheca’: ‘Quandoquidem igitur tot et tam pretiosi in omni philosophia libri paulatim amissi sunt, partim flammis aut bellorum tumultibus consumpti, partim ipsa vetustate tineis ac situ corrupti, plurimi vero dissipati negligentia et odio in literas barbarorum […] omnes profecto bonos viros, quibuscunque respub. literaria cordi est, summa contentione anniti decet, ut pauci etiam illi optimi libri, soli adhuc nobis superstites, et divinitus ut videtur per multa saecula conservati, incolumes custodi<an>tur, neque per incuriam nostram pessum eant’ (Gessner, Bibliotheca universalis, *2b-*3a).


Conrad Gessner, Epistolarum medicinalium libri III (Tiguri, 1577), 137b. Cf. Candice Delisle, ‘Accessing nature, circulating knowledge: Conrad Gessner’s correspondence networks and his medical and naturalist practices’, History of universities xxiii (2008), 35–58 (here 36).


Cf.: Helmut Zedelmaier, Bibliotheca universalis und Bibliotheca selecta: das Problem der Ordnung des gelehrten Wissens in der frühen Neuzeit (Köln, 1992), 9–35.


‘dicere etiam solebat nullum esse librum tam malum ut non aliqua parte prodesset’ (Pliny, Letters, transl. William Melmoth, Winifred M. L. Hutchinson (London, 1915), 200–201).


Some examples of such treatment of information in the ‘Historia animalium’ were analyzed by Laurent Pinon and Sachiko Kusukawa: Laurent Pinon, ‘Conrad Gessner and the historical depth of Renaissance natural history’, in: Historia: Empiricism and erudition in Early Modern Europe, eds. Gianna Pomata, Nancy Siraisi (Cambridge, MA, 2005), 241–268 (here 248–253); Sachiko Kusukawa, ‘The sources of Gessner’s pictures for the Historia animalium’, Annals of Science 67 (2010), 303–328 (here 306–307, 324–327).


‘Ego vero nullius scripta contemnere volui […] Ea sane quae falsa aut quovis modo absurda occurebant, vel prorsus omisi, vel ita posui ut arguerem …’ (Conrad Gessner, Historiae Animalium Lib. I. de Quadrupedibus viviparis (Tiguri, 1551), β1a).


‘Ego nihil eius extare puto, praeterquam libros 12. περὶ τῶν καθ᾽ ἑαυτὸν: (vel, ut Suidas citat, τοῦ ἰδίου βίου διαγωγὴν ἐν βιβλίοις ιβ.) quos spero propediem ex patruelis mei officina in lucem prodituros. Ii et Romae in Vaticana Biblioth[eca] servantur’: Gessner, Historiae Animalium Liber IIII, 4b.


See: Ann Blair, ‘Conrad Gessner’s paratexts’, Gesnerus 73 (2016), 73–122 (here 84–85).


Gessner, Historiae Animalium Lib. I, α6a.


As was confirmed post factum by the large number of mistakes in the Greek text, acknowledged by Wilhelm Xylander (see above).


Cf. Gessner’s complaints quoted in note 75.


See: Müller, ‘Conrado Gesnero Philologo’.


See: Leu, Conrad Gessner, 97–360.


‘εἰς ἄκρον σοφίας, τῆς κατ᾽ἄνθρωπον […] ἐληλυθώς’: Marcus Aurelius, De seipso seu vita sua, 8 (second count).


Niccolò Leoniceno, De varia historia libri tres (Basileae, 1531), 262.


In the Preface, where he appealed to his addressee’s benevolence: ‘Tu quaeso faveas operae nostrae, & hoc muneris acceptum faveas, ut idem Antoninus Oppiani, Augustus Virgilii, Alexander Aristotelis summa gratitudine scripta exceperunt…’ and s. v. ‘Oppianus Cilix poëta’: ‘…in exilio clarissima poëmata scripsit, & Romam profectus Severo iam defuncto, Antonino filio ea exhibuit: unde & regressum patris ab exilio impetravit, & pro quolibet carmine aureum numisma suscepit’ (Gessner, Bibliotheca universalis, *6a, 527b). Although, according to the second quotation, the story was told about Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (Caracalla, 188–217 ce), the elder son of Lucius Septimius Severus (145–211), Gessner obviously linked it with Marcus Antoninus Philosopher, as follows from its listing in the ‘Pandectae’ among testimonies about ‘M. Antoninus’ / ‘M. Aurelius’, which precede the section on the emperor Commodus (Antoninus, the son of Severus, being mentioned several paragraphs below as ‘Caracalla imperator’ and ‘Antoninus Caracalla’) (Gessner, Pandectarum, 125b, see also the next note). This could be chronologically more correct, as the poem ‘Halieutica’ was most probably composed in 177, during the reign of Marcus Aurelius (see: Rudolf Keydell, ‘Oppianos I’, in Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft xviii (Stuttgart, 1939), 698–699).


Where he quoted the paraphrase of Book iii, Ch. 1 from the Basilean 1531 edition: ‘M. Antonini liberalitas qua Oppianum poetam prosecutus est, Leonic. 3.1’ (Gessner, Pandectarum, 125b); cf. Leoniceno, De varia historia, 260: ‘M. Antonii recensetur liberalitas, qua Oppianum poetam est prosequutus’.


‘Antoninus imperator Severi F. [cf. previous notes – M. S.] Oppiani De animalibus poëmata (quae sunt De piscibus & piscatione, De venatione, De aucupio) insigni liberalitate accepit…’: Gessner, Historiae Animalium Liber IIII, a4b.


For Gessner’s pleas for funding and his fruitless search for a generous Maecenas see: Blair, ‘The Dedication Strategies’.


See, for instance: Ян Унт, ‘«Размышления» Марка Аврелия как литературный и философский памятник’, in: Марк Аврелий Антонин, Размышления, ред. Аристид И. Доватур, пер. Александр К. Гаврилов (Ленинград, 1985), 104–105; on the history of opinions about the aim and the genre of ‘Meditations’ see: Hadot, La citadelle intérieure, 37–49.


Cf. Marcus Aurelius, Ad se ipsum libri XII, ed. Joachim Dalfen (Lipsiae, 1979), XI-XXV.


See: Gessner, Pandectarum, 20a; cf. Ann Blair, Too much to know: managing scholarly information before the Modern Age (New Haven, 2010), 206–229.


Wellish, Conrad Gessner: a bio-bibliography, Nos 11, 13 and 18. On Gessner’s editorial work see: Diego Baldi, ‘Conrad Gesner, i Loci Communes dello pseudo Massimo Confessore e la Melissa del monaco Antonio’, Bibliothecae 3 (2014), 19–61.


Despite the fact that Christians were persecuted during his reign and that he mentioned them in ‘Meditations’ in ‘far from favorable terms’ (see: Kraye, ‘Marcus Aurelius and Neostoicism’, 518).


The proximity of Marcus Aurelius’ philosophy (‘genus philosophandi’) to that of Epictetus was stressed, for instance, by Wilhelm Xylander in the translator’s preface: Marcus Antoninus, De seipso seu vita sua, [5].


See: Gerard Boter, The Encheiridion of Epictetus and its Three Christian Adaptations: Transmission and Critical Editions (Leiden, 1999).


‘Τὰ μὲν πλεῖστα λῆρός τις καὶ ἀδολεσχία ματαία […] τὰ δὲ καὶ ἀθεότης καὶ ἀσέβεια ὄντα φαίνεται’: Marcus Antoninus, De seipso seu vita sua, 4 (second count).


‘τὰς ἐπ’ ἀνθρώπῳ [...] ἀρετὰς ὡς εὐδαιμονίας αὐτῷ αἰτίας συστήσαντες: ὥσπερ οἱ Στωϊκοί…’: Marcus Antoninus, De seipso seu vita sua, 6 (second count). Jill Kraye in the article quoted above unfortunately overlooked this reference to Stoic philosophy in the editio princeps: declaring that ‘the real defect of both Xylander’s editions was his failure to place the Meditations in the context of ancient Stoicism’ [italics are mine – M.S.] and that ‘the term ‘Stoic’ does not appear in either of his [sc. Xylander’s] prefaces, nor in any of his annotations’: Kraye, ‘Marcus Aurelius and Neostoicism’, 517.


‘οἷον παιδαγωγός τις γίνεται ἡμῖν πρὸς τὴν τῆς ἰδίας ἀδυναμίας ἐπίγνωσιν’ (‘becomes for us a kind of teacher for the comprehension of one’s own weakness’): Marcus Antoninus, De seipso seu vita sua, 7 (second count).


‘τούτῳ τε ὡς ἐφοδίῳ χρώμενοι […] οὐκέτι ἐν ἡμῖν, ἀλλ’ ἐκτὸς ἡμῶν καὶ ὑπὲρ ἡμᾶς τὴν τελειότητα ζητεῖν ἀρχόμεθα’: Marcus Antoninus, De seipso seu vita sua, 7 (second count).


An early fifth century collection of excerpts from pagan Greek poets and prose-writers, see: Walter M. Edwards, Robert Browning, ‘Stobaeus’, in Oxford Classical Dictionary, 1445.


‘Quid obsecro tam Christiane (de vita et actionibus, non de fide loquor) dici potest, quam illa in Platonicis dialogis saepe repetita: Melius esse iniuriam pati quam inferre: Miserum esse qui peccatorum poenas non luit: Non faciendum alteri, quod tibi fieri nolis? […] Socrates, Pythagoras, et alii similes eis pure philosophi, si viverent hodie, etiam inter illos qui se Christianos profitentur, quis eos ex vivendi disciplina non sanctos diceret?’: Ioannes Stobaeus, Sententiae, (Tiguri, 1543), α5a. Cf. Philip Melanchthon’s views on drawing moral precepts from pagan authors: Asaph Ben-Tov, Lutheran Humanists and Greek Antiquity: Melanchthonian Scholarship between Universal History and Pedagogy (Leiden, 2009), 159–165.


For Xylander’s biography see: Fritz Schöll, ‘Xylander’, in Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie Bd. 44 (Leipzig, 1898), 582–593.


See: Leu, Conrad Gessner, 154–155.


Michael Psellus, Liber de quatuor Mathematicis scientiis, Arithmetica, Musica, Geometria, & Astronomia (Basileae, 1556).


Dio Cassius, Romanae historiae libri (tot enim hodie extant) XXV (Basileae, 1558).


Euripides, Tragoediae, quae hodie extant, omnes (Basileae, 1558).


Theocritus, Idyllia sex et triginta (Francoforti, [post viii.1558]).


Marcus Antoninus, De seipso seu vita sua, 10 (second count).


Josias Simmler, Bibliotheca instituta et collecta primum a Conrado Gesnero (Tiguri, 1574), 140. The article on ‘Marcus Antonius imperator’ was unfortunately not updated (Simmler, Bibliotheca, 468).


Conrad Gessner, De libris a se editis epistola ad Guilielmum Turnerum (Tuguri, 1562), B4b.


Marcus Antoninus, De seipso seu vita sua, 4.


Cf. Charles Schmidt, Michael Schütz genannt Toxites (Strassburg, 1888), 59.


‘[the epitome] by Xiphilinus edited together with our Dio’: Marcus Antoninus, De seipso seu vita sua, n6a.


Marcus Antoninus, De seipso seu vita sua, 10.


The use of the Latinized term Φεβρουάριος instead of a classical Greek equivalent was probably due to the difficulty in establishing a firm correspondence between the Greek and Roman calendar in humanist lexicographic works and translations (Februarius was equated with Θαργηλιών or Ἐλαφηβολιών and occasionally even with Γαμηλιών, cf. Paul Botley, ‘Renaissance Scholarship and the Athenian Calendar’, Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Studies 46 (2006), 395–431).


Marcus Antoninus, De seipso seu vita sua, 12 (second count).


The notes on chapters viiixi were left out, presumably by mistake, in the 1559 edition: for these the 1568 edition should be consulted (Marcus Antoninus, De vita sua, χ4b-χ5b).


I found at least 25 textological testimonies of such kind in Xylander’s notes upon ‘Meditationes’ i.7, i.9, i.16, i.17, ii.4, ii.17, iii.2, iii.14, iv.18, iv.24, iv.46, iv.48, v.8, v.12, v.20, v.28, v.31, vi.30, vi.43, vii.6, vii.51–52.


Sigla: ms = Gessner’s copy from the Codex Palatinus ms var = variant reading in the Codex Palatinus X = Xylander’s commentary in the editio princeps G = editio princeps (1559)


‘Anima vaga est) ἡ δὲ ψυχὴ ῥομβός [‘soul is a rhombus’]. A variant reading ῥεμβός [‘wandering’] is noted [in the manuscript], which I approved and followed, as comparing the soul with rhombus (which is a figure with four equal sides but not rectangular) appears not to be philosophical’: Marcus Antoninus, De seipso seu vita sua, o1a.


‘Olivis maturissimis) In the Greek text δρυπέπισι is read, one should write instead δρυπεπέσι [‘ripened on the tree’]. But δρυπετέσι [‘that fell from the tree’] is also an option (which reading is noted on the margin), as olives fall from the tree from ripeness; this similarity is used below in the fourth book’: Marcus Antoninus, De seipso seu vita sua, o2a.


‘It is not the beginning [of a new account], but it relates to the [thoughts], which preceded the quotations from Plato’: Marcus Antoninus, De seipso seu vita sua, 83 (second count); cf. Xylander’s note: ‘Adnotatum est hoc loco a librario, non esse hic novae initium tractationis…’ (Marcus Antoninus, De seipso seu vita sua, p1a).


Marcus Antoninus, De seipso seu vita sua, 108.


Marcus Antoninus, De vita sua, ο8b-π1a.


Marcus Antoninus, De seipso seu vita sua, n8b, 8 (second count).


Marcus Antoninus, De seipso seu vita sua, o3a, 35 (second count).


Marcus Antoninus, De seipso seu vita sua, o8b, 67 (second count).


Marcus Antoninus, De seipso seu vita sua, n8a, 3 (second count).


Marcus Antoninus, De seipso seu vita sua, o2b, 29 (second count).


Marcus Antoninus, De seipso seu vita sua, o3b, 37 (second count).


Cf. Gessner, Bibliotheca universalis, *3a.


On the sources of Gessner’s knowledge about Greek manuscripts see: Sabba, La ‘Bibliotheca universalis’.


Gessner, Bibliotheca universalis, 418b, 611b; Josias Simmler, Appendix Bibliothecae Conradi Gesneri (Tiguri, 1555), 46a–46b. For Gessner’s participation in the scientific network and information exchange see, for instance: Candice Delisle, Establishing the facts: Conrad Gessner’s Epistolae Medicinales between the particular and the general: [Diss. PhD] (London, 2008); Ann Blair, ‘The Dedication Strategies’.


Jodocus Willich, Ars magirica hoc est coquinaria (Tiguri, 1563), *1b-*2a; on Gessner as editor of Neo-Latin authors see: Ann Blair, ‘Printing and Humanism in the Work of Conrad Gessner’, Renaissance Quarterly lxx (2017), 1–43.


Willich, Ars magirica, p2b.


Willich, Ars magirica, p4b.

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