St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo (354–430).
De civitate dei.
[Subiaco: Conrad Sweynheym and Arnold Pannartz], 12 June 1467. (06055)
Few books can compare with the historical significance of the first edition of St. Augustine’s De civitate dei (“City of God”), one of the foundational texts of the Christian tradition. Printed in 1467 at the ancient Benedictine monastery of Subiaco, 50 miles east of Rome, it is the first of seventeen Latin editions printed during the fifteenth century. Bridwell Library holds all seventeen Latin printings, as well as the first published Italian translation (ca. 1483). Although the original owner is unknown, the splendid Italian “white vine” border decoration, gilded initials, and open wreath for a personalized coat-of-arms indicate that this copy was prepared for a wealthy purchaser who wished to demonstrate fine taste in books.