“MATRONS AVOID THIS SITE, FOR YOUR CHASTE BREED ’TWERE VILE THESE VERSES IMPUDIQUE TO READ”: SIR RICHARD BURTON’S VERSE TRANSLATION OF THE PRIAPEIA, 1890
(BURTON, Richard F., translator). Priapeia or the Sportive Epigrams of Divers Poets on Priapus: the Latin Text now for the first time Englished in Verse and Prose. Cosmopoli: Printed by the Translators, 1890. Quarto, early 20th-century three-quarter brown morocco, marbled endpapers, top edge gilt. $1650.
Limited first edition, second issue, number 432 of 500 copies, of this verse and prose translation, with engraved frontispiece and letterpress title page, handsomely bound by Bickers & Son.
“The Priapeia is a work that has long been well known to scholars, and in the 16th and 17th centuries editions were common… The image of Priapus, the god of fruitfulness, was generally a grotesque figure made of rough wood painted red and carrying a gardner’s knife and cornucopia. Placed in a garden it was supposed to be a protection against thieves… Poets wrote facetious and salacious epigrams and affixed them to statues of the god” (Wright, 279). A prose-only translation, in which Burton is believed to have been involved, was published in octavo format in 1888 (Penzer, 153). The introductions in both the 1888 and this metrical translation have been identified as Burton’s work. Initialed on the limitation page by Leonard C. Smithers, who provided the prose translation in this edition. This edition of Priapeia was to be the last of Burton’s books published in his lifetime. Second issue, with canceled leaves in the introduction (Penzer, 150-51); the uncorrected first issue is so rare as to be unobtainable. Penzer, 150-53. Spink 92. Wright, Appendix I.
Occasional scattered light foxing to interior; toning to spine and light rubbing to extremities. A near-fine copy of a Burton rarity.