Limited Editions Club: Orations and Essays by Cicero (1972)

Orations and Essays by Cicero (1972)
LEC #452/40th Series V. 6 in 1972
Artwork: Illustrations by Salvatore Fiume
Introduction by Reginald H. Barrow, translated by Palmer Bovie, Michael Grant, Richmond Y. Hathorn, George B. Gardner
LEC #660 of 1500. LEC exclusive.

Click images to see larger views.

Front Binding – Happy 2021 fellow LEC enthusiasts! Our very first post for the new year is a collection of orations and essays by Roman statesman and scholar Marcus Tullius Cicero, often shortened to just Cicero. This is his sole LEC edition, which includes seven orations (four against Catiline, one in defense of the Poet Archias, one for Aaelius, and one on the second Philippic against Antony) and three essays (“The Dream of Scipio”, “Cato the Elder on Old Age”, and “On Moral Duties, Book I”). He lived in a tumultuous period of Roman history, as the Republic crumbled following the death of Julius Caesar. His perspective and viewpoints angered Marc Antony, especially the scathing ones about Antony. As Antony began to consolidate power, Cicero was named an enemy of the state, captured attempting to flee the country, and beheaded. Per Wikipedia, “His works rank among the most influential in European culture, and today still constitute one of the most important bodies of primary material for the writing and revision of Roman history, especially the last days of the Roman Republic.”

Salvatore Fiume served as illustrator for this edition, his third collaboration with its designer, Giovanni Mardersteig following 1959’s Quo Vadis? and 1963’s The Lives of the Twelve Caesars. This would be his last contribution to the LEC. For Orations, he painted portraits of major players featured within Cicero’s words, which were done in Rome. Ultimately, Fiume’s style is not one of my favorites. I feel he does a fine enough job capturing the essence of the classical stylings of Roman artwork, but it just seems a little flat for me.

Design Notes – Giovanni (Hans) Mardersteig handled the design duties of this book, one of the last he would perform for the LEC before his death in 1977. His private press, the Officina Bodoni, handled MANY titles for the Club over the years, including The Betrothed (I Promissi Sposi) and The Life of Benvenuto Cellini, among others we have yet to cover on the blog. Mardersteig often signed his editions, but this was not one of them (perhaps due to his age). For this book, Officina Bodoni handled planning duties, while Stamperia Valdonega printed it under his supervision. Here’s what the announcement adds:



Title Page – Reginald H. Barrow provides the introduction. Unstated here are the various translators, who appear on the Table of Contents page and “Notes on the Selections”. The translators include Palmer Bovie (who handles the majority of the selections), Michael Grant, Richmond Y. Hathorn, and George B. Gardner.

Colophon – This is #660 of 1500, and was signed by Fiume.

Examples of Fiume’s illustrations (right click and open in new tab for full size):

Personal Notes – This was part of a lot I received from a fellow Devotee who has been exceptionally generous with donating a few duplicates from their collection to me, which I remain eternally thankful for. I would say on a book design front this is a highlight of the Cardevon Press days in terms of binding, printing and quality of materials — Fiume doesn’t do much for me, as noted above — and I’m happy to have it on my shelves.