London: Printed by Adam Islip, 1599. Quarto, early nineteenth-century three-quarter green morocco over marbled boards, spine lettered in gilt. Woodcut emblem on title page, two woodcut headpieces and three woodcut initials. Stab holes visible in gutter. Contemporary (1601) marginalia on C1, slightly later marginalia (“Milton / Par. Lost”) on G1, smudged word in early ink on 2B4v. Lacking first blank (A1). Binding rubbed, title page restored and resized, final leaf also repaired, some infrequent dampstaining mostly around gatherings G and Z.
First and only edition in English of Renaissance mythographer Vincenzo Cartari’s influential introduction to the deities of the ancient Greek and Roman world, first published in Italian as Le imagini de i Dei degli Antichi in 1556. Translated as The Fountaine of Ancient Fiction, Cartari's work (liberally supplemented by translator Linche) made the iconography of the ancient gods widely accessible to Elizabethan readers: “By [her] shield (in that Minerva is taken for Wisdome and Knowledge) is understood the roundness and compasse of the world, governed with wise decrees, politike lawes, & discreet commandments. By the Dart or Speare, is unshadowed the force, virtue, and power of wisdom, & that the words and speeches of a learned man do prevaile.” Cartari draws not only from the expected classical sources (Homer, Aeschylus, Ovid, Virgil, Pliny) but also from Renaissance mythographers like Boccaccio, and his straightforward account of the gods provided Tudor artists and writers with “a symbolic vocabulary” (Renaissance Quarterly). Translated, with many additions, by Elizabethan poet Richard Linche. ESTC S107896. A very good copy of a scarce and important work, with no auction records recorded in more than thirty years.