The printed achievement of Aldus Manutius

This symposium was convened by Ian Maclean (All Souls College, Oxford) and Oren Margolis (Somerville College, Oxford) on 7th February 2015, and comprised 5 presentations summarized here:


Aldine Greek Incunabula and early collections in Oxford College

Aldus_1Geri Della Rocca de Candal (Lincoln College)

This paper, a case study based on the Material Evidence in Incunabula database (MEI), part of the 15c BOOKTRADE project, explores the provenance of Aldine Greek incunabula currently held in Oxford college libraries. Thanks to his reputation as an editor and to his highly effective entrepreneurial spirit, both decisive in creating a demand and a market for his books, Aldus’s Greek editions were much sought after by humanists and scholars throughout Europe already at a very early stage.  The paper shows how, in contrast to the Greek editions of his predecessors, a remarkable number of Aldus’s Greek incunabula already reached Northern Europe and England long before the European secularisation of monastic collections of the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and consequent formation of modern private collections. In addition to this, it attempts an outline of reading and collecting practices in relation to the different types of Greek works published by Manutius (e.g. devotional texts, philosophy, science, literature). Finally, the paper looks at the colleges’ different pattern of acquisition during the course of the centuries.


Decoding the woodcuts of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili of 1499: Colonna ΓΕΛΟΙΑΣΤΟΣ

Aldus_2Richard Cooper (Brasenose College, Oxford)

This paper has two objectives: 1) to explore the broad significance of the Aldine Dante (1502), with its text edited by the Venetian humanist Pietro Bembo, in the context of other printed editions of the Comedy before and after 1502; and 2) to consider the particular range of interests displayed by one of the text’s owners and readers, in the marginal notes by Giovanni Brevio on the Bodleian copy of the 1502 edition.


The significance of the Aldine Dante of 1502

Martin McLaughlin (Magdalen College, Oxford)Aldus_3

 This paper has two objectives: 1) to explore the broad significance of the Aldine Dante (1502), with its text edited by the Venetian humanist Pietro Bembo, in the context of other printed editions of the Comedy before and after 1502; and 2) to consider the particular range of interests displayed by one of the text’s owners and readers, in the marginal notes by Giovanni Brevio on the Bodleian copy of the 1502 edition.


The Pliny of 1508: An Aldine Miscellany?

Aldus_4Justin Stover (All Souls College)

What was the contribution of Aldus Manutius to Latin scholarship? Aldus’ importance to Latin scholarship, however, is often related as little more than footnote in the history of classical scholarship, and such a footnote could only point to one book he printed, the 1508 edition of Pliny’s letters.  Remarkably, however, this single book makes two separate contributions to Latin scholarship: the first complete edition of Pliny’s letters, and Aldus’ only Latin editio princeps, the Liber de prodigiis of the otherwise unknown Julius Obsequens.  In this paper, I present two different ways of understanding the composition of this volume, both of which in turn shed light on Aldus’ own participation in the broader scholarly world of the early sixteenth century.


The Merchant of Venice: Aldus Manutius, some publisher colleagues and

the commerce of books

Ian Maclean (All Souls College)Aldus_5

Scholars do not engage in commerce: as the saying has it, ‘knowledge is a gift of God, and cannot therefore be put on sale.’  Merchants on the other hand are in the business of profit-making; some would say that this creates in them a ‘mercatoria prudentia’ that translates everything into commercial and amoral terms. What happens if you are both a scholar and a merchant, as in the case of Aldus Manutius and his colleague Josse Bade [Jodocus Badius]?  Does your devotion to the world of learning trump your commercial sense?  Or do you combine both elements of your avocation? This paper looks at the legal and cultural aspects of this dilemma around 1500.

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