DSC_0001Some times, really more often than not, a second or third edition of a book surpasses the intellectual importance than the first, in obscure books this requires a little reading and understanding contexts. The book I have to write about today, Aristotelis Florum illustriorum is just this type of book.

In medieval latin a florilegium (plural florilegia) is a compilation of excerpts from other writings. The word is formed the Latin flos (flower) and legere (to gather): literally a gathering of flowers, or collection of fine extracts from the body of a larger work. It was adapted from the Greek anthologia (ἀνθολογία) “anthology”, with the same etymological meaning. Medieval florilegia were systematic collections of extracts taken mainly from the writings of the Church father, from early Christian authors, also pagan philosophers such as Aristotle, and sometimes classical writings. In the fifth century BC Stobaeus collected and compiled extracts from Greek authors, this turned out to be a very popular to read and spread information. The reading and transmission of the works of Aristotle ( over two hundred separate works of dialogues, records of scientific observations and systematic works. His student Theophrastus reportedly looked after Aristotle’s writings and later passed them to his own student Neleus,  supposedly took the writings from Athens to Scepsis, where his heirs let them languish in a cellar until the 1st century BC, when Apellicon of Teos discovered and purchased the manuscripts, bringing them back to Athens. According to the story, Apellicon tried to repair some of the damage that was done during the manuscripts’ stay in the basement, introducing a number of errors into the text. When Lucius Cornelius Sulla occupied Athens in 86 BC, he carried off the library of Apellicon to Rome, where they were first published in 60 BC by the grammarian Tyrannion of Amisus and then by the philosopher Andronicus of Rhodes.. Of Aristotle’s estimated 200 works, only 31 are still in circulation.(There are scholarly disputes about the number of works he produced and also about the authenticity of some of the works coming down to us under his name.)   Of this great mass of work a specialized or casual reader would only want to refer to portions of the Aristotelian Oeuvre, This there existed a need for a systemized and organized editing and so we find the Aristotelian Florilegia. More about the History of these later, for now here is an example of a Third edition of a Florilegia that with the editing of two scholars,perhaps changed the Aristotle we know.

For a fascinating account of the  earliest history of the transmission of Aristotle’s works, see Shute (1888))



A papyrus with a scrap of Aristotle's "Politics"
A papyrus section with part of  Aristotle’s “Politics”

320G    Bouchereau, Jacques, and Havenreuter, Joannes Ludovicus.

Aristotelis Florum illustriorum ex vniuersa eius philosophia collectorum, & ad certa quædam capita reuocatorum, libri tres; autore Iacobo Bouchereau Parisino. Omnia nunc correctiora et auctiora edita, opera Ioannis Ludouici Hauuenreuteri        

[Straßburg] : Zetzner, Wechelus) 1585      $3,300

What is a 'yapp edge'? That part where the vellum curves over the for-edge
What is a ‘yapp edge’?
That part where the vellum
curves over the for-edge

This is the first edition edited by Hannenrenteri and greatly expanded.   Original vellum binding with yapp edges and two newer (but still old) paper stickers on the binding.

“ A new approach to the compilation of an Aristotelian Florilegium, breaking completely with the medieval tradition, which had dominated the previous printed editions, came with the publication of Jacques Bouchereau’s Flores illustriores Aristotelis ex universa eius philosophica collecti at Paris in 1560. This work went through several printings and at least one revision, it is firmly based upon Aristotle and the material taken from other philosophers, which had characterised the earlier collections, is no longer present. In fact, the particular and decisive value of Aristotelian philosophy above all others and  as the culmination of the Greek development, is clearly spelled out in the prefatory letter. The compiler is evidently familiar with earlier similar collections,but finds them unsatisfactory owing to the barbarity of their style and other shortcomings. …

The Flores were printed three further times before a revised and expanded version (this edition) came out under the editorship of DSC_0004Johann Ludwig Hauwenreuter, one of the men most responsible for the late Renaissance flourishing of Aristotelian studies in Protestant Germany.”

Hauwenreuter’s version “marks an improvement and expansion over Bouchereau’s original in a number of ways. It contains more sententiæ than the Paris printing and there are a number of helpful marginal notes to aid the reader. A rough estimate indicates that it is perhaps fifty percent longer than the original, and it also
contains a good many more entries in the alphabetical list of topics covered.”

All quoted from  Charles B. Schmitt in Aristoteles: Werk und Wirkung : Paul Moraux [zum 65. Geburtstag] gewidmet
edited by Jürgen Wiesner 1985.
DSC_0001VD 16 A 3291. World cat shows only one copy of this edition:Universitätsbibliothek LMU München.

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