Orationum Marci Tullii Ciceronis, Volume 1

The Orationum Marci Tullii Ciceronis was created in Manau, Germany as the first volume of a planned three-volume set. The book, protected by its limp vellum cover, was written in Old Latin and has been well preserved since its creation in 1606. During that era, Latin was the shared language amongst scholars. This book demonstrates how common the language had become through its use of common abbreviations and shorthand throughout the text. Although these abbreviations and shorthand make it much more difficult for us to interpret the book today, they made printing much easier and faster in 1606. 


Book Cover

This book cover was constructed with limp vellum. A very sturdy base for the book and has not given in too much to the test of time. However, it does make the book look underwhelming from the front. The contrast between the title page and the cover is vastly different. On the title page, and even throughout much of the book, we can see beautiful and creative designs, while the cover is a dull beige with no designs or imprints to note. However, it was durable and very common at the time this book was created.


Printing Details

This book has designs printed throughout the pages. You can see some of them on the title and chapter pages, but they can also be found on other  pages throughout the book that have no significance when it comes to structure. This is because of how printers created books  in this era. The designs, while a very pretty decoration, also served as a way to take up space when the printer wanted to make sure the page ended on a certain word or phrase. 

Printers also used design as a creative outlet. Books were more than just words on a page; printers also wanted their art to have more dimension to it.

Each word, space, and design in the book was broken down into very small pieces and printed one piece at a time. For example, when printing words, each letter was stamped down individually. This is why we can see misalignments and inconsistencies within wording throughout the book.

While machine printing made it much easier for people of this time to print books, it was still much harder and time consuming than what we are capable of and used to today.

Burned in a Past Life

While the cover of this book and the spine are kept relatively in very good condition, on the top of the book there is burn residue from what we believe to be a house fire. They were very common back when heat and light meant burning candles, lanterns, or a fireplace. We can tell the position that the book often sat in was on a shelf because the only area that the pages were affected were at the top of the book. No damage was done to the vertical edge of the pages or to the bottom.

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See pencil annotations in margins.

Pencil Annotations

As you read before, Latin was the common scholarly language of the day. Even though scholars would have spoken different vernacular languages based on which country they hailed from, , all could use Latin to communicate with each other no matter what their nationality or primary tongue. We can see this demonstrated in this book, because while it was written in Latin, it also contains pencil notations throughout the margins in  Latin, many of which are in shorthand Latin. 

Previous Care of the Book

In this first volume of the Orationum Marci Tullii Ciceronis, there has been some slight reconstruction done. In order to try to maintain the structural integrity of the book, somewhere along the way, someone decided to insert some new and sturdier pages at the beginning. These pages are not damaged at all and have a different consistency than the original pages, so we can tell they were put in much later and used to help with the condition of the book.