GREGORY OF NAZIANZUS, 329-390 CE; Jacques de Billy de Prunay, 1535-1581 (translator); Fédéric Morel, 1558-1630 (translator and printer); Claude Morel, 1574-1626 (printer)
[BINDING] Sancti Gregorii Nazianzeni Cognomento Theologi, Opera.
Nunc primùm Graecè & Latinè coniunctim edita, subsidio & liberalitate Reuerendiss. Episcoporum, & Cleri vniuersi Franciae Regni. Jac. Billivs Prvnaevs, S. Michaelis in Eremo Coenobiarcha, cum mnss. Regiis contulit, emendauit, interpretatus est, … Aucta est haec editio aliquammultis eiusdem Gregorij Epistolis nunquam antea editis, ex interpretatione Fed. Morelli Professoris & Interpretis Regij. [= The Works of Saint Gregory of Nazianzus, surnamed The Theologian. Now first edited with the Greek & Latin side-by-side, by the help and liberality of their Reverences the Bishops & Clergy of the whole Kingdom of France. Translated and edited by Jacques de Billy (Billi) de Prunay … with the addition of various letters never before published, translated by F. Morel …]. Lvtetiae Parisiorvm [Paris] : apud Clavdivm Morellvm [Claude Morel], 1609. Foolscap folio (365 x 235 mm), handsome contemporary binding of stamped leather over oak boards, executed in 1613 for Godefredus [Godfried] Gilkens, his name stamped in blind beneath the date on the upper board, the spine with five raised bands, boards with chased brass centrepiece and cornerpieces, an elaborate blind ornamental border surrounding two inner borders (the first incorporating numerous small portrait heads of soldiers, emperors, kings and others, the second geometric), around a central polished panel featuring floral corner ornaments, with the upper portion of the two original brass clasps at fore-edge of upper board; the boards slightly worn (more so at edges), the spine rubbed and dried, with early repairs at extremities (including reinforcement to the upper joint), the lower joint cracking and slightly chipped, hinges cracked (with early paper repairs at foot); upper pastedown with bookplate of W.A. Harding of Madingley above a later owner’s bookplate, verso of front free-endpaper with old printed catalogue slip; title page printed in red and black, with large printer’s device initialled F.M. (Fédéric Morel) and early inked annotations including Gilkens’ ownership inscription dated 1613, pp. , 916,  (index); parallel text in Greek and Latin; decorative headpieces and initials; a few small wormholes (mainly to margins, occasionally very slightly affecting letterpress), several light marginal water stains (a couple extending into text), a few leaves browned, a little light foxing.
The first volume only (the second was separately published in 1611) of the first collected edition to be printed in France of the translations of the works of Gregory of Nazianzus into Latin from the original Greek made by the French patristic scholar, theologian, jurist, linguist, and Benedictine abbot Jacques de Billy (Billi) de Prunay (1535-1581). Gregory of Nazianzus (329-390 CE), also known as Gregory the Theologian or Gregory Nazianzen, was a 4th-century Archbishop of Constantinople, and theologian. He is revered as one of the four great fathers of the Eastern Church, and widely considered the most accomplished rhetorical stylist of the patristic age.
This Paris edition contains a number of previously unpublished letters, translated by Fédéric Morel (1558-1630), a member of the famous French family of printers, and also one of the most accomplished Greek scholars of his time. The printer was Fédéric’s younger brother, Claude Morel (1574-1626), who published several works on the early Church fathers, and was a member of the Societas librariorum & typographorum, a group formed for the specific purpose of printing translations of Greek works.
The original owner of this book, Godfried Gilkens, was a prominent citizen of Roermond, a town in the province of Limburg in the Netherlands. This region was under Spanish rule from 1543 to 1702, during which time Roermond became a significantly active centre of the Counter-Reformation; the zealotry of its population was ignited by the Inquisition, and on one day alone in 1613 – the very year Gilkens had this book bound and added to his library – no fewer than 64 people accused of witchcraft were burnt alive on a hillside outside the town. Records show that Gilkens served as Chancellor of the Souverin Council of the Court of Gete, Roermond, from 1622 to 1625.
The book’s more recent owner, W.A. Harding, was the son of Colonel T. Walter Harding, who purchased 16th-century Madingley Hall, in Cambridgeshire, in 1905. His manuscript bibliographical notes, dated 1912, are loosely inserted.
Brunet 504 (describing this edition as preferable to the second [expanded] edition of 1630).