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“Optimo humanista et greco”

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Aldus Manutius’s Career in Venice in the Eyes of Marin Sanudo

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On the death of Aldus Manutius in February 1515, the Venetian diarist Marin Sanudo recorded his evaluation of the man’s achievements, praising him as a teacher and scholar and highlighting the correctness of his Latin and Greek editions and their distinctive prefaces. This article considers the rationale for the esteem shown by Sanudo, and by contemporaries such as Erasmus, for Aldus as an outstanding scholar-printer in the classical languages, examining Sanudo’s suggestions about the means by which Aldus established his business and his reputation in Venice, and the extent to which he made use of collaborations. Sanudo’s assessment has a significant limitation, however, since it omits any mention of printing in Italian. The essay goes on to compare and contrast the production of Aldus’s last year, 1514–1515, which includes vernacular texts as well as editions in Latin and Greek, with that of his early career as a printer in the 1490s, when he concentrated on editions of Greek texts. His vernacular editions had an impact no less important than that of his classical ones in the first half of the sixteenth century, and they made a major contribution to the rise of Italian vernacular scholarship.

Affiliations: 1: University of Leeds


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