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Meung, Jean de
Le Dodechedron,

5, 800 

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Very rare first edition of the Dodechedron by Jean de Meung,
rarely found in nice contemporary condition.

A beautiful and precious copy, with wide margins,
preserved in its first contemporary limp vellum binding.


Meung, Jean de. Le Dodechedron de fortune. Livre Non Moins Plaisant & recreatif, que subtil & ingenieux entre tous les ieux & passetemps de Fortune. Autresfois compose par feu M. Ian de Meun, pour le Roy Charles le quint, & nouvellement mis en lumiere. Par F.G.L. Avec Privilege.
Paris, Gilles Robinot, 1556.

4to of (14) ll., 144 pp., 1 folding plate.

Limp vellum. Contemporary binding.

Very rare first edition.

Tchemerzine, IV, 719 ; Brunet, III, 1680 ; Zollinger, 471 ; Barbier, I, 1109 ; Picot, Catalogue du baron J. de Rothschild, I, 311.

A very complete copy containing the 14 preliminary leaves unknown to Brunet and Barbier.

“First edition and the rarest that we have of this singular text, which was often reprinted since (…). It was translated into English in 1618.” (Brunet)

The text is decorated with an ornamental head piece, beautiful ornamental letters and the figures of the Dodechedron.

“This divinatory game, that uses a twelve-sided die, comprises of a hundred and forty-four questions organized according to the twelve astrological houses and connected to 1720 oracles versified in French. These octosyllabic verses are attributed to Jean de Meung : we can recognize some of the inspirations of the author of the second part of the Roman de la Rose ; such as his criticism of religious hypocrisy or of the corrupt aristocracy. This is an “interactive” book that leads from one page or image to the other in order to obtain an answer to the question asked.” (La règle du jeu, la tradition ludique dans le patrimoine Ecrit, Paris I, Bibl. Ste-Geneviève)

The Dodechedron de fortune, named after the twelve-sided die used to call the oracle and the medieval goddess of Fortune, was a divinatory game and is today called “Le Miroir Magique de Jehan de Meung”.

The game consisted of choosing questions about the future and finding the answers thanks to the special die whose sides all corresponded to one of the twelve celestial houses and gave a number that linked back to a horoscope or an advice, all of which necessitated a table found here in this book.

In the book’s notice, Gruget explains its content to the reader: Jehan de Meung “autheur d’iceluy, l’un des plus doctes de son temps es mathematiques & Philosophie, a voulu proceder selon l’Astrologie iudiciaire, & Iugemens Astronomiques, divisant ses questios en douze chapitres selon l’ordre des douze maisons du ciel, y observant entierement les proprietez & significations d’icelles, car en chacun chapitre, ou (pour mieux l’apeller) maison, il propose douze demandes, ou questions propres, & convenables selon les effetz & significations de chacune des douze maisons du ciel : & outre a chacune question y a douze responses, tellement que le tout contient 144 questions, & 1728 responses.”

During the religious fervor of 16th-century Europe, some writers moved away from the Church and wrote about magic. At the time, in Europe, nothing was more important, controversial, or dangerous, than religion. Yet, when wars, plague and religious persecution were part of everyday life, some turned away from the Church in their search for answers and reassurance. 

Jean de Meun was a French poet best known for writing the continuation to Guillaume de Lorris’ unfinished Roman de la Rose, in which he famously satirizes the Pope, monastic orders, marriage, love and women.

De Meun adopts a similarly playful and irreverent attitude towards life in the Dodechedron. The Dodechedron is an instruction manual for telling fortunes using dice and includes a table of numbers to provide answers to a list of set questions. The reader only needs a twelve-sided die to roll for answers to questions such as whether a horse one is thinking of buying will prove a good investment, whether a prisoner of one’s acquaintance will be released soon, or whether a particular person will come to bad end.” (Dunia Garcia-Ontiveros)

This first edition is extremely rare and even more so in such a fine contemporary condition.

The copy from the library of the baron J. de Rothschild was bound in 19th century morocco by Trautz-Bauzonnet.

A beautiful and precious copy, with wide margins, preserved in its first contemporary limp vellum binding.

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