Collectaneae Praefationes, Epistolae, Orationes: com indice totius operis
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Collectaneae Praefationes, Epistolae, Orationes: com indice totius operis

Autore: RAMUS, Petrus (La Ramée, Pierre, 1515-1572 ) & TALAEUS, Audemarus (Talon, Omer, ca. 1510-1562)

Dati tipografici: Paris Denis Du Val, 1577

8vo. (8), 612, (4) pp. ã4, A-Z8, Aa-Pp8, Qq4. Contemporary calf, gilt fillet on the panels with gilt ornamental centerpiece; with the contemporary entry of ownership of Jules Thiballier [sieur de] V.[illebourgeon] (lieutenant au bailliage d'Orléans, fl. end of the 16th century) and that of Louis-Pierre Hérivaux, professor of rhetoric at the Collège Louis-le-Grand, whose most famous pupil was Maximilien Robespierre (cf. L. Dingli, Robespierre, Paris, 2004, p. 19).

Adams, R-133; L.D. Green, & J.J. Murphy, Renaissance Rhetoric Short Title Catalogue, 1460-1700, (Aldershot, 2006), p. 361; W.J. Ong, Ramus and Talon Inventory, (Cambridge, MA, 1958), pp. 448-450, no. 717.


FIRST EDITION of this collection of prefatory letters, letters and speeches by Ramus and Talon edited by the lawyer and historian Nicolas Bergéron, executer of Ramus' last will.

Ramus, who took letter writing seriously, had a copious correspondence with many scholars of his time, among them Joachim Rheticus, Joachim Camerarius, Conrad Gesner, Federico Commandino, Samuel Grynaeus, and Thomas Zwinger, but a great part of his letters were lost. The present collection contains, apart his prefatory letters (mostly addressed to his patron, Charles of Lorraine), letters to Théodore de Beze, John Dee, Jacobus Acontius, Johannes Freigius, Angelus Papius, Jakob Schegk, and again to Charles of Lorraine. Some of them are printed here for the first time (apart those to Jacob Schegk, which had already been published in 1569).

At the end of the volume are printed a speech by Omer Talon and Barthélemy Alexandre, as well as Ramus' most important orations as De studiis philosophiae et eloquentiae conjugendis (1546), Initio suae professionis (1551), Pro philosophica disciplina (1554), De legatione (1557), Duae actiones mathematicae (1557), Proemium reformandae Parisiensis Academia (1562), and De sua professione (1563).

The volume was reprinted at Marburg in 1599 by Paul Egenolf, to which the editor, Johann Hartmann, added some new material.


(Praefationes grammaticae:)

Lorraine, Charles de. Paris, Collège de Presle, May 13, 1559 (p. 1)

id. (p. 3)

id. Paris, Collège de Presle, August 1, 1559 (p. 4)

id. (p. 4)

id. (p. 18)


(Praefationes rhetoricae:)

n.r. Paris, January 15, 1544 (p. 19, by Talon)

n.r. (p. 21, by Talon)

n.r. (p. 22, incipit: Habes lector)

Henry II (p. 23)

n.r. (p. 29, incipit: Bene, Mecoenas optime)

n.r. Paris, Collège de Presle, December 6, 1556 (p. 34)


(Praefationes dialecticae:)

n.r. (p. 36, incipit: Utinam possis)

n.r. (p. 40, incipit: Non ignoras, Mecoenas)

n.r. (p. 50, incipit: Quintum ab hinc)

n.r. (p. 52, incipit: Archimedes)

n.r. (p. 54, incipit: Pervenerat libellus)

n.r. Paris, Collège de Presle, May 15, 1556 (p. 55)

n.r. Paris, Collège de Presle, January, 1553 (p. 60)

Sabellus, [Jean]. Paris, Collège de Presle, August 5, n.y. (p. 66, by Talon)


(Praefationes physicae:)

n.r. (p. 69, incipit: Aristotelis auscultatio Physica)

n.r. (p. 77, incipit: Aristoteles in logica)

n.r. (p. 84, incipit: Nec veró terrae)


(Praefationes moralis philosophiae:)

n.r. (p. 85 by Talon)

n.r. Paris, Collège de Presle, December 9, 1558 (p. 87)

n.r. Paris, Collège de Presle, April 5, 1559 (p. 89)


(Praefationes oratoriae et philosophicae:)

n.r. (p. 90, De conjuganda eloquentia)

n.r. (p. 98, In Epist. Platonis)

n.r. (p. 101 by Talon, In tres libros de oratore)

n.r. Paris, October 26, 1550 (p. 105 by Talon, In topica)

[Lorraine, Charles de]. (p. 107 by Talon, Academia)

n.r. Paris, Collège de Presle, April 5, 1550 (p. 135 by Talon, In Lucullum)

[Lorraine, Charles de]. Paris, December 25, 1550 (p. 138, by Talon, In Paradoxa)

n.r. (p. 140, Pro C. Rabirio)

n.r. (p. 143, In Agrarias)

n.r. (p. 149, In Catilinarias)

n.r. (p. 152, In librum de fato)

n.r. Paris, Collège de Presle, February 27, 1546 (p. 158)

n.r. (p. 161, In Cic. de legibus)


(Praefationes mathematicae:)

n.r. January 25, 1544 (p. 166)

n.r. (p. 169, incipit: Mathematica in numeris)

[Medici, Catherine de'] (p. 178)

n.r. (p. 187, incipit: Ex omnibus vigiliis)



Senatui Bononiesi. (p. 193)

Papius, Angelus. (p. 196)

Monluc, Jean de. Paris, December 19, 1564 (p. 199)

Acontius, Jacobus. Paris, December 19, 1564 (p. 203)

Dee, John. Paris, December 19, 1564 (p. 204)

Academiae Parisiensi (p. 206)

Schegk, Jakob. Basel, October 15, 1569 (p. 207)

id. Basel, September 12, 1569 (p. 211)

from Schegk, Jakob. Tübingen, March 15, [1569] (p. 220)

Schegk, Jakob. Basel, March 22, 1569 (p. 231)

id. Basel, April 1, 1569 (p. 234)

T.B.V. [Bèze, Théodore de]. August 27, 1569 (p. 249)

Freigius, Thomas. Genève, July 4, 1570 (p. 252)

id. Paris, August 16, 1572 (p. 253)

Lorraine, Charles de. [October, 1570] (p. 254)

id. Paris, October 21, 1570 (p. 255)

id. [Paris, p. October 12, 1562] (p. 294).

id. (p.401)

Lectori. Paris, Collège de Presle, June 23, 1557 (p. 418)

Thou, Christophe de. [Paris, p. March 11, 1566] (p. 530)


Petrus Ramus (Pierre de la Ramée) was born in the village of Cuth in Picardy, a member of a noble but impoverished family. Having gained admission, in a menial capacity, to the college of Navarre at Paris, he worked with his hands by day and carried on his studies by night. The reaction against scholasticism was still in full tide and he outdid his predecessors in the impetuosity of his revolt. On the occasion of taking his degree (1536) he actually took as his thesis ‘Everything that Aristotle taught is false'. As soon as he was allowed to give lectures, he tried to change what he himself had found so unsatisfactory. His endeavors to reform the curriculum were not, however, appreciated by his colleagues, who mounted strong resistance to them: his first textbooks, Aristotelicae animadversiones and Dialecticae institutiones, both published in 1543, were censured and eventually prohibited. He himself was briefly prohibited from teaching logic and rhetoric. He withdraw from Paris, but soon afterwards returned, the decree against him being cancelled through the influence of his patron, the cardinal Charles of Lorraine.

Ramus published many books during his career. More than fifty were printed, and some came out in several editions. They vary in genre and length from commentaries on classical texts to short tracts or orations. It is sometimes difficult to distinguish Ramus' works from those of his closest colleague and friend, Omar Talon The two scholars influenced each other and exchanged ideas and texts. Talon's Rhetorica (1548), for example, was essentially a slightly revised version of Ramus' Institutiones oratoriae (1545). It was a great loss for Ramus when Talon died in 1562.

In the 1560s Ramus took the dramatic step of converting to Protestantism. As a Huguenot, he lost the influential support of the Cardinal of Lorraine, which until then had been vital for his career advancement. From now on he could only hope for the patronage of the king. He was forced to leave Paris and the university, spending some years in Germany and Switzerland. He tried to obtain a chair in Heidelberg, where he took part in his first Protestant communion; despite this, the other professors refused him the chair that had been promised to him by the Count Palatine, Fredrick III. His attempt to be appointed to a chair in Strasbourg was also unsuccessful. Therefore, in 1570 he returned to Paris, where he took up his former position as ‘regius' professor, but without regaining his licentia docendi.

In spite of the differing accounts given by his biographers, we know that Ramus was murdered during the St. Bartholomew's day massacre, which started on August 24, 1572. On the third day he was captured in his study at the Collège de Presles. His body was mutilated and perhaps decapitated before being thrown into the Seine. Although the king had ordered for him to be spared, we do not know why these instructions were disobeyed. Since, however, Ramus was not killed until the slaughter had almost died down, this may indicate that the reasons for his murder went beyond his conversion to Protestantism. At any rate, he became a kind of martyr to his many followers (cf. J.R. Glenn, The martyrdom of Ramus in Marlowe's ‘The massacre in Paris', in: Papers on Language & Literature”, 9/4, 1973, pp. 365-379).

Ramus was an extremely controversial figure. He acquired admirers and friends as easily as he did opponents, critics and enemies. Ramus is reputed to have had a very bad temper. Sometimes he even physically attacked his students, though apparently this did not prevent him from gaining many devoted disciples. He amassed a substantial fortune and made a provision in his will that this money should be used to establish a chair of mathematics. Significantly, it was not to be attached to the University of Paris but was instead to have the same type of special conditions granted to ‘regius' professors (cf. J.S. Freedman, W Rother & M. Feingold, eds., The Influence of Petrus Ramus. Studies in Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century Philosophy and Sciences, Basel, 2001, passim; and W.J. Ong, Peter Ramus, in: “Encyclopedia of Philosophy”, P. Edwards, ed., VII, New York, 1967, pp. 66-68).


Omer Talon was a native of Vermandois. He became associated with Petrus Ramus when he became a teacher at the University of Paris in 1544. Later in the same year Talon joined Ramus and Bartholomew Alexander in teaching at the College of Ave Maria, and then at the College de Presle. Here began their lifelong task of reforming the arts and sciences according their own system. Talon's province was rhetoric and he dedicated his writings to applying Ramus' principles to that field. Talon also took it upon himself to defend Ramus against his numerous enemies, thereby sparing Ramus the necessity to responding on his own account. Still Talon was more than Ramus' surrogate. He had considerable talents of his own, including mastery in Greek and an elegant Latin style, and at least one of his works Academica (1547), shows him as a capable philosopher as well (cf. W.J. Ong, Ramus, Method, and the Decay of Dialogue, From the Art of Discourse to the Art of Reason, Cambridge, MA, 1958, pp. 270-274).

Collectaneae Praefationes, Epistolae, Orationes: com indice totius operis