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Arrian’s Periplus of the Black Sea & the Red Sea

SKU: 9312

Arrian’s Periplus of the Black Sea & the Red Sea

Date of publication:

near-contemporary calf

Johann Wilhelm Stucki


  • Barthélemy Vincent
  • Author(s):

  • Arrian of Nicodema
  • Arriani Historici et Philosophi Ponti Euxinii & maris Erythraei Periplus. Lugduni [Lyon] apud Barthlomaeum Vingentium, 1577

    A periplus or two

    The volume contains two works: a Periplus of the Euxine Sea (Black Sea), which is still attributed to Arrian and was written circa AD130, and a Periplus of the Erythraean Sea (Red Sea) which was once thought to be by the same author but is now believed to have been composed much earlier, probably in the mid first century AD.

    A periplus is a navigational handbook detailing sailing itineraries, but also containing a wealth of supporting commercial and political information for travellers and traders. Arrian's work on the Black Sea is addressed to the Emperor Hadrian, who had appointed him governor of Cappadocia, in eastern Turkey, giving him firsthand knowledge of the region. In the second work, the Red Sea was extended to include the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean.

    Both works were first published by Froben in 1533, as part of an anthology. This edition – the first time they appeared as separate works – was edited by the Swiss protestant theologian, philologist and scholar Johann Wilhelm Stucki, and issued jointly by Eustathius Vignon and Barthélemy Vincent under both Geneva and Lyon imprints.

    The map appears to be the earliest printed map focused on the Black Sea. Ortelius first published his version in 1590 and in some editions explicitly mentions Stucki’s edition in his text.

    Condition & Materials

    Folio. pp. [xxiv], 193, [xxvii] (including blank); [xxxvi], 109 [i.e. 108], [xiv] (lacks final leaf k6, blank?) + folding woodcut map of the Black Sea. Text in Greek and Latin. The final index is complete and the missing leaf appears to have been blank. Waterstaining, mostly light, to upper and lower margins at intervals, and a marginal wormhole not affecting letters of text. Early gilt ruled calf, worn, with loss to headcaps; upper joint cracked but firm. 20th century bookplate on the pastedown, recording the donation of this book to the Brother Julian F.S.C. Collection at Manhattan College by Mr Christian A. Zabriskie of New York City. Ownership signature of John Johnston, dated 1817, on front free endpaper.


    Dibdin (see Dibdin I, 330) describes Stucki’s commentary as ‘learned and useful’ and the book itself as ‘somewhat uncommon’.