Opening page of De officiis
Although a pre-Christian period essay on the correct way to conduct one's life, Cicero’s De Officiis was permitted by the early Church. Indeed, it would soon become one of the major authorities on morality and a significant text in the sphere of education until well into the 17th century.
In a letter to Jacob Batt (Paris, 5 April 1501), Erasmus announces: ‘I have written notes on Cicero's De Officiis, this work will be printed soon’. It would be the first classical text to receive a critical introduction by Erasmus.
The copy on display is noteworthy for also including a commentary (first written in 1525) by Philip Melanchthon, an extremely influential German reformer who had collaborated with Luther and printed annotations by Erasmus.
Author: Marcus Tullius Cicero
Title: De officiis [On Duties] (Strasbourg: Wendelin Rihel, 1541)