Renaissance and Reformation Aldo Manuzio (Aldus Manutius)
by
Craig Kallendorf
  • LAST REVIEWED: 17 January 2017
  • LAST MODIFIED: 27 June 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195399301-0031

Introduction

Aldo Manuzio (b. c. 1450–d. 1515) was famous in his own day as one of a group of great scholar-printers, and he has retained this historical prominence over the years. He began printing in Venice at the end of the 15th century and worked there until his death, joining the second wave of printers who established that city as the center of the European printing industry in the 16th century. His early works, printed before the end of the year 1500, are called “incunables” and are among the most valued of all early printed books. Aldo himself encouraged the belief that his work was technically innovative and met high scholarly standards; he is the author of a widely used Latin grammar, and his commitment to printing the Greek classics literally transformed Renaissance culture. A revisionist approach developed in the late 20th century emphasizes Aldo’s shortcomings as well as his accomplishments, but the 500th anniversary of his first publication in 1494 led to a series of exhibition catalogues that confirms why the protagonist of Thomas More’s Utopia (1516) used Aldine editions as models for how to print books.

Background

Until the late 1480s, Aldo made a respectable living as a humanist tutor (Grendler 1989). At some point during this period he moved to Venice. He found there a humanist intellectual circle gathered around Ermolao Barbaro, a large Greek community (Geanakoplos 1962) and the greatest concentration of printing houses in Europe. Castellani 1973 provides a basic introduction to Venetian printing, Brown 2008 goes into further depth, and Gerulaitis 1976 offers a sometimes controversial modern analysis that downplays the importance of the classics in Venetian Renaissance printing. Aldo’s publishing program would evolve from this background, as Erasmus 2015 shows.

  • Brown, Horatio F. The Venetian Printing Press, 1469–1800: An Historical Study Based upon Documents for the Most Part Hitherto Unpublished. Whitefish, MT: Kessinger, 2008.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An older but still-valuable general study of the Venetian press from its origins to the fall of the Republic, followed by many of the documents on which the study is based. Reprint of 1891 edition.

    Find this resource:

  • Castellani, Carlo. La stampa in Venezia dalla sua origine alla morte di Aldo Manuzio seniore. Trieste, Italy: Edizioni LINT, 1973.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Contains a list of early Venetian printers, an overview of their activity, and documents recording their work. Reprint of the 1889 edition; also reprinted in 1969 (Amsterdam: Gérard Th. Van Heusden).

    Find this resource:

  • Erasmus, Desiderius. Opulentia sordida e altri scritti attorno ad Aldo Manuzio. Edited by Lodovica Braida. Venice: Marsilio, 2015.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Contains Italian translations of three texts relevant to the time that Erasmus spent as a houseguest of Aldo, along with a valuable introduction by the editor. These texts offer a vivid picture of life in an early Renaissance print shop, with a focus on Aldo and his famous guest.

    Find this resource:

  • Geanakoplos, Deno John. Greek Scholars in Venice: Studies in the Dissemination of Greek Learning from Byzantium to Western Europe. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1962.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A lively study of the Greek émigré community in Renaissance Venice, which provided editors, correctors, and scribes for Aldo’s work.

    Find this resource:

  • Gerulaitis, Leonardas Vytautas. Printing and Publishing in Fifteenth-Century Venice. Chicago: American Library Association, 1976.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A study of the economic and technical background of printing, monopolies, privileges, and censorship, updating Brown 2008 and showing how Venice became the leading publisher of classical texts during this period.

    Find this resource:

  • Grendler, Paul. Schooling in Renaissance Italy: Literacy and Learning, 1300–1600. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1989.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The definitive modern treatment of schoolmasters and schools in Renaissance Italy, the environment Aldo left to take up printing and the market for many of his books.

    Find this resource:

Life and Works

Among modern treatments of Aldo’s life and works, the standard biography is Lowry 1979, which replaces the earlier studies that take Aldo’s claims at face value with a more balanced assessment of his successes and failures. Davies 1995 offers a similar perspective in a short, readable book aimed at a less scholarly audience. Dazzi 1969 covers much of the same ground in Italian but with some valuable additions. Factual clarifications of key points may be found in Fletcher 1988, and the essays in Zeidberg and Superbi 1998 extend the discussion into several different areas. The primary sources collected in Orlandi 1976, Pastorello 1957, Wilson 2016, and Grant 2017 provide the basis for further research in this area.

  • Davies, Martin. Aldus Manutius: Printer and Publisher of Renaissance Venice. London: British Library, 1995.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An excellent short introduction, nicely illustrated and up to date in its scholarship. Balances Aldo’s many accomplishments carefully against the failures of so many of his announced projects.

    Find this resource:

  • Dazzi, Manlio. Aldo Manuzio e il dialogo veneziano di Erasmo. Vicenza, Italy: Neri Pozza, 1969.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Contains a long essay, “Aldo Manuzio” (pp. 11–73), published initially in La Bibliofilia 52 (1950): 109–149 and reprinted as Scritti sopra Aldo Manuzio (Florence: Olschki, 1955), along with “Il dialogo veneziano di Erasmo” (pp. 77–127). A nicely illustrated overview, with the second part, on Aldo’s relations with Erasmus, being especially useful.

    Find this resource:

  • Fletcher, Harry George III. New Aldine Studies. San Francisco: B. M. Rosenthal, 1988.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A series of brief biographical and bibliographical essays, designed to clear up various matters in Aldo’s life and work, with relevant documents, by one of today’s great Aldine experts.

    Find this resource:

  • Grant, John N., ed. Humanism and the Latin Classics. The I Tatti Renaissance Library 78. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2017.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A companion volume to Wilson 2016, this book presents all of Aldo’s prefaces to his editions of classical and humanist texts that were written in Latin, along with English translations and illustrative documents written by Aldo and his collaborators.

    Find this resource:

  • Heyden-Rynsch, Verena von der. Aldo Manuzio: Vom Drucken und Verbreiten schöner Bücher. Salto 203. Berlin: Wagenbach, 2014.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A broad overview of Aldo’s life and works, moving chronologically and pausing on key themes and important trends in his developing printing program. A worthwhile early-21st-century study.

    Find this resource:

  • Lowry, Martin. The World of Aldus Manutius: Business and Scholarship in Renaissance Venice. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1979.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The definitive modern study of Aldo’s life and work. Lowry takes a revisionist approach, acknowledging Aldo’s scholarly ideals but insisting that commercial and practical considerations forced a series of compromises, as a result of which Aldo’s scholarly claims prove to be overstated and his work remains firmly anchored among the upper classes. With an extensive bibliography, pp. 309–331.

    Find this resource:

  • Orlandi, Giovanni, ed. Aldo Manuzio editore: Dediche, prefazioni, note ai testi. Milan: Edizioni il Polifilo, 1976.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A beautifully printed collection of Aldo’s “paratexts,” the prefatory material through which he introduced his books to their readers, with an insightful introduction by Carlo Dionisotti.

    Find this resource:

  • Pastorello, Esther. L’epistolario manuziano: Inventario cronologico analitico, 1483–1597. Florence: Olschki, 1957.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Makes accessible for study the letters through which much of the business of the Aldine press was transacted.

    Find this resource:

  • Wilson, Nigel G., ed. The Greek Classics. The I Tatti Renaissance Library 70. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2016.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Contains all of Aldo’s prefaces to his editions of the Greek classics, with the Latin originals accompanied by English translations, along with other relevant writings. This material provides insight into both the development of Aldo’s scholarly publishing program in Greek and the expansion of printing in Renaissance Italy.

    Find this resource:

  • Zeidberg, David, with Fiorella Gioffredi Superbi, eds. Aldus Manutius and Renaissance Culture: Essays in Memory of Franklin D. Murphy; Acts of an International Conference, Venice and Florence, 14–17 June 1994. Florence: Olschki, 1998.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An important collection of essays covering the finishing and dissemination of Aldo’s books, as well as his technical achievements and intellectual affiliations.

    Find this resource:

Aldo’s Publications

Efforts to list Aldo’s publications go back to Domenico Maria Manni and Antonio Cesare Burgassi in the late 18th century. These earlier attempts were superseded by Renouard 2009, which was not replaced until the publication of the corrected version of Naiditch, et al. 2001, to be supplemented by Kallendorf and Wells 1998.

  • Kallendorf, Craig W., and Maria X. Wells. Aldine Press Books at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center: A Descriptive Catalogue. Austin: University of Texas, 1998.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A catalogue of the second-largest Aldine collection in North America, valuable especially for information on annotations, early owners, and fine bindings. The copies collected by Giorgio Uzielli, numbering about a third of the collection, contain some extraordinary bindings. Contains full descriptions of each book. A handful of corrections have been incorporated into the revised online version.

    Find this resource:

  • Naiditch, Paul, Nicolas Barker, and Sue A. Kaplan. The Aldine Press: Catalogue of the Ahmanson-Murphy Collection of Books by or Relating to the Press in the Library of the University of California, Los Angeles; Incorporating Works Recorded Elsewhere. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A meticulous description of the UCLA collection, the largest in North America, with brief notices of other Aldines not in Los Angeles, designed to replace Renouard 2009 (originally published in 1834) as the definitive record of Aldo’s press and those of his successors. Unfortunately the volume is very expensive and therefore difficult to obtain. Initially published in fascicles between 1989 and 1994, which are mistake-ridden and should therefore be avoided.

    Find this resource:

  • Renouard, Antoine A. Annales de l’imprimerie des Alde. 3d ed. Charleston, SC: BiblioBazaar, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    First published in 1803, this book lists all the publications of Aldo and his successors. Prepared by one of the great 19th-century bibliographers, who profited from the mass of books released into the market by the political upheavals during his lifetime (b. 1765–d. 1853), it is still worth consulting for its detailed observations about many books, especially the early Aldines. Reprinted in 1834 (Paris: Renouard), 1953 (Bologna, Italy: Editoriale Fiammenghi), and 1991 (New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll).

    Find this resource:

Exhibition Catalogues

The catalogues listed in this section accompanied exhibitions commemorating the 500th anniversary of the publication of Aldo’s first book in 1494 and the 500th anniversary of his death in 1515 (on which see Consortium of European Research Libraries). Fletcher 1995 offers an excellent introduction to Aldo’s work, while Manoussacas and Staikos 1993 allows one to trace the dissemination of Aldine books in Greece, and Sul Mendes and Cunha 1994 shows that Aldo’s books reached Portugal as well. Scapecchi 1994 and Goldfinch and Coane 2015 suggest the kind of work that can be done in the smaller European libraries. The larger catalogues, especially Bigliazzi, et al. 1994 and Marcon and Zorzi 1994, add important scholarly studies on various aspects of Aldo’s life and works, while Angerhofer, et al. 1995 goes into depth on many of the most important Aldine publications.

  • Angerhofer, Paul J., Mary Ann Addy Maxwell, Robert L. Maxwell, and Pamela Barrios. In Aedibus Aldi: The Legacy of Aldus Manutius and His Press. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University, 1995.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A nice catalogue. Only sixty-seven books are described, but they include many of Aldo’s key publications, and the discussions of each book are lengthy and detailed.

    Find this resource:

  • Bigliazzi, Luciana, Angela Dillon Bussi, Giancarlo Savino, and Piero Scapecchi, eds. Aldo Manuzio tipografo 1494–1515, Biblioteca Nazionale CentraleBiblioteca Medicea Laurenziana exhibition. Florence: Octavo, 1994.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Contains full bibliographical descriptions and short discussions of more than 140 books from the two largest Florentine libraries, along with short essays on several topics, including Aldine counterfeits, early owners, and illuminated copies.

    Find this resource:

  • Clemons, G. Scott, and H. George Fletcher, eds. Aldus Manutius: A Legacy More Lasting Than Bronze. New York: Grolier Club, 2015.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The catalogue from an exhibition marking the 500th anniversary of the death of Aldo Manuzio. The copies on exhibition were predominantly from private collections (the authors, plus T. K. Brooker) and thus were rarely if ever seen, plus there were loans of exceptional copies from the Morgan, Columbia, and Clark Art Institute.

    Find this resource:

  • Consortium of European Research Libraries. Manutius Network 2015.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A web page that lists conferences, seminars, and exhibitions that were organized to celebrate the fifth centenary of Aldo’s death, with links to the websites that were set up for those celebrations.

    Find this resource:

  • Fletcher, Harry George III. In Praise of Aldus Manutius: A Quincentenary Exhibition. New York: Pierpont Morgan Library, 1995.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A smaller catalogue, nicely organized, with books grouped to illuminate key topics (e.g., “The Aldine Printer’s Device,” “Aldus the Teacher,” “The Portable Library”).

    Find this resource:

  • Goldfinch, John, and Stephanie Coane. Aldus Manutius and the Renaissance Book. Windsor, UK: Eton College Library, 2015.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A short catalogue that accompanied an exhibition at Tower College Library, Eton College, focused on Aldine incunables (books printed before 1501) and on other incunables that shed light on Aldo’s work. Difficult to obtain but a worthwhile source for an understudied part of Aldo’s output.

    Find this resource:

  • Manoussacas, Manoussos I., and Konstantinos Staikos, eds. Venetiae quasi alterum Byzantium: Le edizioni di testi greci da Aldo Manuzio e le prime tipografie greche di Venezia. Athens, Greece: La Fondazione per la Cultura Greca, 1993.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    One of the rarer catalogues, in Greek and Italian, focusing on Aldo’s Greek texts, with a picture and a substantive narrative about each book.

    Find this resource:

  • Marcon, Suzy, and Marino Zorzi, eds. Aldo Manuzio e l’ambiente veneziano 1494–1515, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana exhibition. Venice: Il Cardo, 1994.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The definitive treatment of Aldo in his Venetian environment, with bibliographical descriptions of 153 books in the Marciana library accompanied by substantive essays on scholar-printers, Aldo’s grammar, an important illuminated book, bindings on the Marciana Aldines, and the formation of the library’s collection.

    Find this resource:

  • Scapecchi, Piero. Aldo Manuzio: I suoi libri, i suoi amici tra XV e XVI secolo; Libri, biblioteche e guerre in Casentino. Florence: Octavo, 1994.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A nice little catalogue from the exhibition at the Biblioteca Comunale “Rilliana” in Poppi. Most of the books came from a former Camaldolensian monastery nearby, providing information about Aldo’s place in monastic culture and reminding us that the great national libraries are not the only places in Italy where treasures may be found.

    Find this resource:

  • Sul Mendes, Maria Valentina C. A., and Margarida Cunha. Edições aldinas da Biblioteca Nacional, séculos XV–XVI. Lisbon, Portugal: Biblioteca Nacional, 1994.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A smaller catalogue in Portuguese with brief descriptions of 146 books, valuable primarily for information about the spread of Aldo’s books to the Iberian Peninsula.

    Find this resource:

Aldo’s Contribution to Scholarship

Aldo was a scholar as well as a printer; he dreamed of establishing an academy, and he maintained cordial relationships with scholars such as Erasmus throughout his career. Work since the late 20th century has emphasized the fact that Aldo’s editorial practices, of which he was proud, do not meet modern standards with any consistency, but his publications had a significant impact on scholarship in two areas: grammar and Greek studies.

Grammar Books

As Dionisotti 1964 notes, Aldo’s contribution to humanism should be assessed on the basis of his grammar, which he worked on for a quarter century, because his humanism was grammar based, unlike that of polymaths such as Politian. Aldo began his career as a teacher, with Jensen 1998 showing how his work here fits into larger trends in Renaissance Europe. As Plebani 1994 points out, the links among schoolmaster, printers, and book purchasers in this period were strong, with Scaccia Scarafoni 1947 narrowing the focus to Aldo’s first printed grammar.

  • Dionisotti, Carlo. “Aldo Manuzio umanista.” In Umanesimo europeo e umanesimo veneziano. 2d ed. Edited by Vittore Branca, 213–243. Florence: Sansoni, 1964.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A positive assessment of Aldo’s humanist publishing program and its roots in the environment of Italian grammar teaching from which Aldo emerged. Originally published in 1963.

    Find this resource:

  • Jensen, Kristian. “The Latin Grammar of Aldus Manutius and Its Fortuna.” In Aldus Manutius and Renaissance Culture: Essays in Memory of Franklin D. Murphy; Acts of an International Conference, Venice and Florence, 14–17 June 1994. Edited by David Zeidberg with Fiorella Gioffredi Superbi, 247–285. Florence: Olschki, 1998.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A careful study placing Aldo’s grammar into the tradition of the humanist schoolmasters, listing the sixty surviving editions and analyzing the work as a successful example of the conservative nature of grammar instruction in the Renaissance.

    Find this resource:

  • Plebani, Tiziana. “Omaggio al Aldo grammatico: Origine e tradizione degli insegnanti-stampatori.” In Aldo Manuzio e l’ambiente veneziano 1494–1515, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana exhibition. Edited by Suzy Marcon and Marino Zorzi, 73–106. Venice: Il Cardo, 1994.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Analyzes the general connections between teachers and printers, then Plebani discusses the grammar books printed by Aldo and others as a manifestation of these connections.

    Find this resource:

  • Scaccia Scarafoni, Camillo. “La più antica edizione della grammatica latina di Aldo Manuzio finora sconosciuta ai bibliografi.” In Miscellanea bibliografica in memoria di don Dommaso Accurti. Edited by Lamberto Donati, 193–203. Rome: Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 1947.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Identifies the earliest surviving edition of Aldo’s Latin grammar (Venice: Torresani, 1493), showing the importance of this work in relation to printed grammar books in Renaissance Europe.

    Find this resource:

Greek Studies

Aldo was not the first Westerner to print Greek, but he was the first to do so in quantity: after developing suitable type founts, he produced the first editions, or improved editions, of many standard authors during the twenty years his press was in operation. The Aldine Aristotle (1495–1498) was one of the great printing triumphs of the 15th century, and by the time he died, Aldo had done as much as anyone to restore Greek to its central place in Western culture. Wilson 1992 provides general background on Greek studies in Renaissance Italy, Firmin-Didot 1875 tightens the focus to Aldo, and Flogaus 2009 and Hexter 1998 isolate two distinctive aspects of Aldo’s work in Greek. Sicherl 1997 focuses on the manuscripts Aldo used, shedding light on the passage from manuscript to printed books in Renaissance Greek studies, while Tura 2015 clarifies the principles according to which the Aldine editions were prepared.

  • Firmin-Didot, Ambroise. Alde Manuce et l’Hellénisme à Venise. Paris: A. Firmin-Didot, 1875.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An overview of the Greek connections in Aldo’s life and works, with an appendix of relevant documents. An older study but still the starting place for work in this area.

    Find this resource:

  • Flogaus, Reinhard. “Aldus Manutius and the Printing of Greek Liturgical Texts.” In The Books of Venice / Il libro veneziano. Edited by Lisa Pon and Craig Kallendorf, 206–230. Venice: Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, 2009.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A reminder that Aldo printed religious as well as secular texts in Greek, with the identification of a number of untitled “stowaway” texts hidden in Aldo’s other books that justify considering him to be “the first one to have printed Greek liturgical texts of the Orthodox Church” (p. 230).

    Find this resource:

  • Hexter, Ralph. “Aldus, Greek, and the Shape of the Classical Corpus.” In Aldus Manutius and Renaissance Culture: Essays in Memory of Franklin D. Murphy; Acts of an International Conference, Venice and Florence, 14–17 June 1994. Edited by David Zeidberg with Fiorella Gioffredi Superbi, 143–160. Florence: Olschki, 1998.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Extends Aldo’s achievements in Greek to Latin scholarship as well, by arguing that Aldo printed the Greek grammars and authors through which a modern understanding of the Roman imitation of Greek models can be understood.

    Find this resource:

  • Sicherl, Martin. Griechische Erstausgaben des Aldus Manutius: Druckvorlagen, Stellenwert, kultureller Hintergrund. Paderborn, Germany: Ferdinand Schöningh, 1997.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A collection of studies published from 1975 to 1992, focused mostly on the manuscripts Aldus used in preparing his first editions of Greek texts.

    Find this resource:

  • Tura, Adolfo. “Riflessioni sullo spirito editoriale di Aldo Manuzio.” In Manuciana Tergestina et Veronensia. Edited by Francesco Donadi, Stefano Pagliaroli, and Andrea Tessier, 219–226. Graeca Tergestina, studi e testi di filologia greca 4. Trieste, Italy: EUT, Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2015.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Argues that Aldo was not motivated by the same antiquarian spirit that led to the production of many other classical texts in the Renaissance. Philological work, Tura claims, was restricted to the preparatory phase of each edition; after that, Aldo intended his texts to stand as irrevocable, indeed sacramental, monuments of learning.

    Find this resource:

  • Wilson, N. G. From Byzantium to Italy: Greek Studies in the Italian Renaissance. London: Duckworth, 1992.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Chronicles the stages by which Byzantine émigrés transferred their culture to Italy, climaxing with Aldo, at whose death much of the Greek legacy had been made available to educated people.

    Find this resource:

Aldine Founts

Aldo’s founts, cut by Francesco Griffo of Bologna, proved to be very influential, as Mardersteig 1964 shows. His roman founts were widely admired for their elegance, and he was the first to print in italic, an accomplishment whose value is attested by the fact that counterfeits appeared almost immediately. A debate continues about the beauty and utility of his Greek founts, but there is no question that these founts, too, proved influential.

  • Mardersteig, Giovanni. “Aldo Manuzio e i caratteri di Francesco Griffo da Bologna.” In Studi di bibliografia e storia in onore di Tamaro de Marinis. Vol. 3. Edited by Romeo De Maio, 105–147. Verona, Italy: Stamperìa Valdonega, 1964.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The most thorough analysis of Griffo and the types he cut for Aldo, covering roman, Greek, and cursive in the period through 1501, when Aldo and Griffo went their separate ways. Well illustrated.

    Find this resource:

Greek

From 1494 until his death in 1515, Aldo used four Greek founts, the first modeled on the cursive script of the scribe Immanuel Rhusotas; the others, smaller versions in the same style, culminating in the fourth fount (see Pagliaroli 2015). Their long influence, in part, leads Barker 1992 to consider them a success, but Proctor 2007 and Scholderer 1927 disagree vigorously: the effort to freeze, as it were, a rapid, informal hand in print required the use of seventy-five forms for the twenty-four Greek letters, with the addition of contractions, abbreviations, accents, and breathings taking the number of separate sorts over three hundred, resulting in a printed page that was hard to read in Aldo’s day, and even harder now.

  • Barker, Nicolas. Aldus Manutius and the Development of Greek Script and Type in the Fifteenth Century. 2d ed. New York: Fordham University Press, 1992.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Places Aldo’s founts into the broader development of printing in Greek and analyzes with sensitivity the changes in the four founts. Barker notes that Aldo’s Greek founts provided a decisive pattern for many years and considers them “a masterpiece fully equal to the . . . roman and italic type” (p. 102).

    Find this resource:

  • Pagliaroli, Stefano. “L’ultimo carattere greco di Aldo Manuzio.” In Manuciana Tergestina et Veronensia. Edited by Francesco Donadi, Stefano Pagliaroli, and Andrea Tessier, 97–141. Graeca Tergestina, studi e testi di filologia greca 4. Trieste, Italy: EUT, Edizioni Università di Trieste, 2015.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    An extended treatment focused on the appearance of Aldo’s fourth Greek fount, within the context of the last years of his professional efforts.

    Find this resource:

  • Proctor, Robert. The Printing of Greek in the Fifteenth Century. Mansfield Center, CT: Martino, 2007.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Places the Aldine founts within the general development of early Greek printing, concluding that Aldo’s founts were a disaster (“the first type of Aldus has no redeeming feature,” p. 103) compared to the earlier efforts to print Greek, which were closer to formal Greek bookhands. Originally published in 1900 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, for the Bibliographical Society); reprinted in 1966 (Hildesheim, Germany: Olms).

    Find this resource:

  • Scholderer, Victor. Greek Printing Types 1465–1927: Facsimiles from an Exhibition of Books Illustrating the Development of Greek Printing Shown in the British Museum, 1927. London: British Museum, 1927.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Discusses Aldo’s Greek founts within the tradition of early Greek printing in Italy, again concluding that the effort to copy a cursive hand “was a disaster from which Greek printing did not recover for generations” (p. 7). Second edition printed in 1995 (Thessaloniki, Greece: Typophilia).

    Find this resource:

Italic

Aldo’s italic founts proved to be a greater success than his Greek ones, as Balsamo 1967 notes. Carved in imitation of the humanist cursive, with the scribe Bartolomeo Sanvito or the humanist Pomponio Leto as the probable model, the italic was initially joined with a format originally used for religious books, the small octavo, to produce pocket books, plain texts of the classics designed for leisure reading. Fletcher 1988 provides a useful introduction, while Barker 1992 goes into more detail on the origins of Aldo’s italic fount.

  • Balsamo, Luigi. “Il primo corsivo di Aldo Manuzio e Francesco Griffo.” In Origini del corsivo nella tipografia italiana del ’500. Edited by Luigi Balsamo and Alberto Tinto, 25–42. Milan: Edizioni Il Polifilo, 1967.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Analyzes the first cursive cut by Griffo as part of Aldo’s publishing program, designed to make his books appealing to a public that was not yet fully comfortable either with printed books or editions of the classics.

    Find this resource:

  • Barker, Nicolas. “The Aldine Italic.” In Aldus Manutius and the Development of Greek Script and Type in the Fifteenth Century. 2d ed. By Nicholas Barker, 109–118. New York: Fordham University Press, 1992.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Stresses the resemblances between the italic fount and Aldo’s own hand, which in turn was heavily influenced by Pomponio Leto and his circle in Rome, the environment in which Aldo matured before beginning his teaching career. Reprinted in Zeidberg and Superbi 1998 (cited under Life and Works).

    Find this resource:

  • Fletcher, Harry George III. “Italic Type.” In New Aldine Studies. By Harry George Fletcher III, 77–87. San Francisco: B. M. Rosenthal, 1988.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A useful general discussion of the origins of the Aldine italic and its first uses.

    Find this resource:

Finishing Aldo’s Books

Like other books of the day, Aldo’s works were most often sold in sheets, which could be finished according to the taste and finances of the buyer. The belief that there was an Aldine bindery, which goes back to the 19th century, is clarified in Hobson 1998 and challenged outright in Mazzucco 1994, which provides a good overview of the range of bindings found on Aldine books. Early printed books, like manuscripts, could also be illuminated, with Bussi 1998 and Szépe 1995 showing that Aldo’s pocket books received this treatment more often than his other books, and Armstrong 1998 and Szépe 1998 suggesting a fairly formal relationship between Benedetto Bordon, a well-known Venetian artist, and Aldo.

  • Armstrong, Lilian. “Benedetto Bordon, Aldus Manutius, and LucAntonio Giunta: Old Links and New.” In Aldus Manutius and Renaissance Culture: Essays in Memory of Franklin D. Murphy; Acts of an International Conference, Venice and Florence, 14–17 June 1994. Edited by David Zeidberg with Fiorella Gioffredi Superbi, 161–183. Florence: Olschki, 1998.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Presents evidence that “Bordon was known to Aldus Manutius, that he did paint miniatures in Aldine books, and that he designed woodcuts both for Aldus and for his great contemporary printer and publisher, LucAntonio Giunta” (p. 162).

    Find this resource:

  • Bussi, Angela Dillon. “Le Aldine miniate della Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana.” In Aldus Manutius and Renaissance Culture: Essays in Memory of Franklin D. Murphy; Acts of an International Conference, Venice and Florence, 14–17 June 1994. Edited by David Zeidberg with Fiorella Gioffredi Superbi, 201–216. Florence: Olschki, 1998.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Notes that illuminated Aldines tend to be pocket editions, and provides further evidence for the relationship between Bordon and Aldo.

    Find this resource:

  • Hobson, Anthony. “Was There an Aldine Bindery?” In Aldus Manutius and Renaissance Culture: Essays in Memory of Franklin D. Murphy; Acts of an International Conference, Venice and Florence, 14–17 June 1994. Edited by David Zeidberg with Fiorella Gioffredi Superbi, 237–245. Florence: Olschki, 1998.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Shows that the so-called Mendoza Binder served Aldo’s main retail shop, binding books for purchasers who needed this service; as such, he could be considered an “Aldine binder,” but he was never employed by Aldo.

    Find this resource:

  • Mazzucco, Gabriele. “Legature rinascimentali di edizioni di Aldo Manuzio.” In Aldo Manuzio e l’ambiente veneziano 1494–1515, Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana exhibition. Edited by Suzy Marcon and Marino Zorzi, 135–179. Venice: Il Cardo, 1994.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Offers a detailed study of the twenty-five Marciana Aldines with contemporaneous Venetian bindings, whose differences lead to the conclusion that there was no decisive link between Aldo and one binder or shop.

    Find this resource:

  • Szépe, Helena K. “The Book as Companion, the Author as Friend: Aldine Octavos Illuminated by Benedetto Bordon.” Word & Image: A Journal of Verbal/Visual Enquiry 11.1 (1995): 77–99.

    DOI: 10.1080/02666286.1995.10435899Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Examines the surviving illuminated Aldine octavos with a focus on the workshop of Benedetto Bordon, suggesting that their owners had them personalized through illumination to replace the similarly sized books of hours that previously served much the same function.

    Find this resource:

  • Szépe, Helena K. “Bordon, Dürer, and Modes of Illuminating Aldines.” In Aldus Manutius and Renaissance Culture: Essays in Memory of Franklin D. Murphy; Acts of an International Conference, Venice and Florence, 14–17 June 1994. Edited by David Zeidberg with Fiorella Gioffredi Superbi, 185–200. Florence: Olschki, 1998.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Explores the importance of Aldines in early-16th-century miniature painting, suggesting that Bordon was one of several illuminators who had a working relationship with Aldo.

    Find this resource:

Hypnerotomachia Poliphili

The Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (Pozzi and Ciapponi 1964) was the first vernacular book printed by Aldo and his first book clearly printed on commission; Godwin 2005 is the first English translation. The book is famous because of its harmonious blending of type, capitals, and woodcuts; because of the scandal caused by its unrestrained paganism; and because of the mysteries of its text, which combines allegory, archaeology, and romance in what Martin Davies calls “an extraordinarily exotic Latinate vernacular, a language never spoken and never again attempted in Italian literature” (Zeidberg and Superbi 1998, p. 37; see Life and Works). The authorship both of the woodcuts and the text remains disputed. The text is traditionally ascribed to Fra Francesco Colonna, a Dominican priest at the Venetian community of Santi Giovanni e Paolo, as Casella and Pozzi 1959 explains, but Calvesi 1980 maintains it was written by someone of the same name who was Lord of Palestrina. Szépe 1991 claims the woodcuts were designed by Benedetto Bordon, but this attribution remains open to debate as well, with Calvesi 1980 attributing the illustrations to the circle of Pinturicchio in Rome. Caldwell and Thomason 2004 offers an imaginative treatment of all this in novel form. Two special issues of Word and Image offer essays that explore the Hypnerotomachia Poliphii from a variety of perspectives; see Special Issue: Hypnerotomachia Poliphili Revisited (2015) and Word and Image 1998, while Barcaioli 2015 organizes scholarship on Aldo’s most famous book.

  • Barcaioli, Linda. “Una banca dati per il Polifilo: La catalogazione dei contributi.” Bologna, Italy: Bibliothecae.it, 2015.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A systematic bibliography going back into the 19th century of scholarship on the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, divided into categories with books and articles arranged chronologically within the categories. Essential.

    Find this resource:

  • Caldwell, Ian, and Dustin Thomason. The Rule of Four. New York: Dial, 2004.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A suspense novel set in Princeton that focuses on the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, suggesting the appeal Aldo’s book continues to have for a wide audience. Paperback reprinted in 2005 (London: Arrow).

    Find this resource:

  • Calvesi, Maurizio. Il Sogno di Polifilo prenestino. 2d rev. ed. Rome: Officina Edizioni, 1980.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Insists vigorously, with carefully argued evidence, on the attribution of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili to the Colonna who was Lord of Palestrina, with further evidence adduced in “Hypnerotomachia Poliphili: Nuovi riscontri e nuove evidenze documentarie per Francesco Colonna signore di Preneste,” which appears in Storia dell’arte 60 (1987): 85–136. Originally published in 1965.

    Find this resource:

  • Casella, Maria T., and Giovanni Pozzi. Francesco Colonna: Biografia e opera. 2 vols. Padua, Italy: Editrice Antenore, 1959.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A biography of the Francesco Colonna from the Veneto who is generally believed to be the author of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, followed by a study of this work and his Delphili somnium.

    Find this resource:

  • Godwin, Joscelyn, trans. Hypnerotomachia Poliphili: The Strife of Love in a Dream. London: Thames and Hudson, 2005.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The first English translation, the only other effort being an incomplete version dating from the end of the 16th century.

    Find this resource:

  • Pozzi, Giovanni, and Lucia Ciapponi, eds. Hypnerotomachia Poliphili: Edizione critica e commento. Padua, Italy: Antenore, 1964.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    The standard critical edition. Reprinted in 1980 with a review of new scholarship.

    Find this resource:

  • Special Issue: Hypnerotomachia Poliphili Revisited. Word and Image 31.2 (2015).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A collection of essays from a symposium at the University of Pennsylvania, exploring how to translate the text, where the book should be placed within the field of Renaissance studies, how art historians have positioned the illustrations within the corpus of book illustration, what the book’s afterlife is like, and where it stands within the history of collecting.

    Find this resource:

  • Szépe, Helena K. “The Poliphilo and Other Aldines Reconsidered in the Context of the Production of Decorated Books in the Renaissance.” PhD diss., Cornell University, 1991.

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    Posits a collective model for the production of the woodcuts in the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, according to which Benedetto Bordon played a key role, but the actual woodcuts were produced by a group of craftsmen.

    Find this resource:

  • Word and Image 14.1–2 (1998).

    Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

    A collection of essays from a symposium at the University of Pennsylvania, focused around the association of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili with architectural and garden history, but also drawing connections with dream narratives, antiquarian scholarship, and Renaissance urban planning, along with forays into source and reception studies. A valuable volume.

    Find this resource:

back to top

Article

Up

Down