Sermones sancti Augustini ad heremitas
Sermones sancti Augustini ad heremitas

[PSEUDO-AUGUSTINUS]. Sermones sancti Augustini ad heremitas.

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[PSEUDO-AUGUSTINUS]. Sermones sancti Augustini ad heremitas Venice: Simon Bevilaqua. 1495.

Small 8vo. Bound in sixteenth-century vellum, title in ink to head of spine, wanting ties; ff. [112], text in two columns, woodcut initial, imprint from colophon; small wormhole to inner margin of ff. [a1]-f4 (slightly touching a few letters), light waterstaining to lower outer corner, a few quires expertly washed and resized; light spotting to covers and spine, recased with new endpapers, head of spine restored; some contemporary notes to f. c5 r-v (slightly trimmed) and sidelining to 5 leaves; library stamps ‘Bibl. SS Apostolorum Neapolis’ to first and last leaves (see below); twentieth-century notes in pencil to free endpapers, but overall in very good condition.
Rare Bevilaqua edition of the pseudo-Augustinian sermons, a best-selling collection of sermons falsely attributed to Augustine of Hippo, supporting the Augustinian Hermits’ priority in their controversy with the Augustinian Canons over the Order of Saint Augustine. The Sermones ad heremitas, also known as Sermones ad fratres in eremo, were first published in Modena in 1477 by Balthasar de Struciis. A popular work, the collection was reprinted at least twelve times during the fifteenth century, including the 1494 edition of Augustine’s sermons by Johann Amerbach and this Venetian edition by Simon Bevilaqua (active 1485-1518). Their authenticity, however, was eventually rejected by the Maurists (a congregation of Benedictine monks) in the seventeenth century. Once attributed to the twelfth-century preacher Geoffroy Babion, it is now widely accepted that the Sermones were composed by different authors at different times, between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries. The collection was forged in the context of a medieval debate over which branch of the Augustinian Order held greater precedence – the Augustinian Hermits or the Augustinian Canons. Their purpose was to support the historically questionable claim that Augustine himself had established the Hermits in Hippo before the Canons. The importance of the Sermones lies in the fact that, although spurious, they were widely accepted as genuine. Consequently, they contributed to the historical understanding of Augustine and reveal the late medieval experience of the saint, which was a foundational component of Augustinianism (see Eric Saak, Creating Augustine: Interpreting Augustine and Augustinianism in the Later Middle Ages, pp. 81-138).
Provenance: From the library of the Theatines at Santi Apostoli in Naples. The church and monastery of Santi Apostoli served as the headquarters for the Theatine order from 1574 until the order’s suppression in the early nineteenth century. The library at Santi Apostoli was likely dispersed around that time.
Goff A1319; IGI 1038; ISTC ia01319000. ISTC shows 6 copies in the UK and 13 copies in the US.