Demosthenes’ Orations, Two and Sixty
The book Demosthenes’ Orations, Two and Sixty is the oldest rare edition in the Alpha Bank Library. It features 62 speeches by ancient orator Demosthenes, along with their analysis by sophist Libanius. It also includes biographies of Demosthenes by Libanius and Plutarch. It was printed at the famous printing company of Aldus Manutius, a pioneering typographer and thinker of the Renaissance.
External appearance and illustrations
The book Demosthenes’ Orations, Two and Sixty is 17 cm (width) x 24 cm (height). It is a rare, leather-bound edition, comprising 320 pages.
- The cover has a decorative rectangular frame with rhombuses on the surface.
- The book spine has a red label with the words “DEMOSTHENES ORATIONES ALDUS” (Demosthenes’ orations - Aldus). The name “Aldus” refers to Aldus Manutius, the famous Renaissance typographer. The book was printed at his printing company, Aldine Press, in Venice.
Fonts and pyramids
The texts are all written in Greek, with a font that resembles handwriting. They are divided into chapters and paragraphs. The last paragraph in each chapter has the shape of an inverted pyramid, instead of the traditional rectangle.
The printing company logo
A dolphin wrapped around an anchor, with the inscription ALDUS. The logo of Aldine Press appears on the title page, i.e. the page inside the cover, where the full title of the book is printed.
A rare find
The book Demosthenes’ Orations, Two and Sixty is the oldest rare book in the Alpha Bank Library.
Title and Contents
The full title of the book is Demosthenes’ Orations, Two and Sixty. Libanius Hypotheses to Said Orations. The Life of Demosthenes According to Libanius. The Life of Demosthenes According to Plutarch.
The book includes:
- 62 speeches of the most important orator of ancient times, Demosthenes. Among them are the “Olynthiac”, “Philippic”, “On the Peace” speeches, “On the Liberty of the Rhodians” and the “Epitaph”.
- The hypotheses (analyses and explanations) by sophist Libanius on those speeches.
- 2 biographies of Demosthenes, one by Libanius and the other by Plutarch.
The typographer Aldus Manutius
Italian humanitarian Aldus Manutius was one of the most important thinkers and typographers of the Renaissance. He revived the study of the Greek letters and turned the people’s interest to it, by publishing the most first editions of ancient classical texts.
Between 1493 and 1515, his printing company published 49 Greek editions with the most notable works of Ancient Greek literature. Among them were works by Plato, Aristotle, Aristophanes, Demosthenes, Thucydides, Sophocles, Herodotus, Xenophon and other classical writers.
The editions always had a prologue written in Greek. Aldus Manutius worked with scholars from Crete, who handled the page setup and editing of the manuscripts, and also designed calligraphic Greek fonts.
A pioneering printing company
Aldus Manutius successively created 4 Greek fonts. The first one was larger in size and had more cursive lettering, while the last one was smaller and simpler.
His contribution to typography is remarkable. He invented italics, a historic addition to Latin typography. He also established the semicolon.
The innovative book-binding techniques of Aldus Manutius changed the art of typography and established the Renaissance aesthetics in book design.
The book Demosthenes’ Orations, Two and Sixty. Libanius Hypotheses to Said Orations. The Life of Demosthenes According to Libanius. The Life of Demosthenes According to Plutarch is on display at the exhibition space of the Alpha Bank headquarters, 12 Pesmazoglou and 40 Stadiou Streets.
The area is open to the public during the branch hours of operation (Monday-Friday, 8:00-14:30).