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Manutius

current price of his pocket series of Greek, Latin and Italian classics, begun in 1501, at 2s. per volume of our present money. The five volumes of the Aristotle cost about £8. His great undertaking was carried on under continual difficulties, arising from strikes among his workmen, the piracies of rivals, and the interruptions of war. When he died, bequeathing Greek literature as an inalienable possession to the world, he was a poor man. In order to promote Greek studies, Aldo founded an academy of Hellenists in 1500 under the title of the New Academy. Its rules were written in Greek. Its members were obliged to speak Greek. Their names were Hellenized, and their official titles were Greek. The biographies of all the famous men who were enrolled in this academy must be sought in the pages of Didot’s Alde Manuce. It is enough here to mention that they included Erasmus and the English Linacre.

In 1499 Aldo married Maria, daughter of Andrea Torresano of Asola. Andrea had already bought the press established by Nicholas Jenson at Venice. Therefore Aldo’s marriage combined two important publishing firms. Henceforth the names Aldus and Asolanus were associated on the title pages of the Aldine publications; and after Aldo’s death in 1515, Andrea and his two sons carried on the business during the minority of Aldo’s children. The device of the dolphin and the anchor, and the motto festina lente, which indicated quickness combined with firmness in the execution of a great scheme, were never wholly abandoned by the Aldines until the expiration of their firm in the third generation.

2. Paulus Manutius (1512–1574). By his marriage with Maria Torresano, Aldo had three sons, the youngest of whom, Paolo, was born in 1512. He had the misfortune to lose his father at the age of two. After this event his grandfather and two uncles, the three Asolani, carried on the Aldine press, while Paolo prosecuted his early studies at Venice. Excessive application hurt his health, which remained weak during the rest of his life. At the age of twenty-one he had acquired a solid reputation for scholarship and learning. In 1533 Paolo undertook the conduct of his father’s business, which had latterly been much neglected by his uncles. In the interregnum between Aldo’s death and Paolo’s succession (1514–1533) the Asolani continued to issue books, the best of which were Latin classics. But, though their publications count a large number of first editions, and some are works of considerable magnitude, they were not brought out with the scholarly perfection at which Aldo aimed. The Asolani attempted to perform the whole duties of editing, and to reserve all its honours for themselves, dispensing with the service of competent collaborators. The result was that some of their editions, especially their Aeschylus of 1518, are singularly bad. Paolo determined to restore the glories of the house, and in 1540 he separated from his uncles. The field of Greek literature having been well-nigh exhausted, he devoted himself principally to the Latin classics. He was a passionate Ciceronian, and perhaps his chief contributions to scholarship are the corrected editions of Cicero’s letters and orations, his own epistles in a Ciceronian style, and his Latin version of Demosthenes. Throughout his life he combined the occupations of a student and a printer, winning an even higher celebrity in the former field than his father had done. Four treatises from his pen on Roman antiquities deserve to be commemorated for their erudition no less than for the elegance of their Latinity. Several Italian cities contended for the possession of so rare a man; and he received tempting offers from the Spanish court. Yet his life was a long struggle with pecuniary difficulties. To prepare correct editions of the classics, and to print them in a splendid style, has always been a costly undertaking. And, though Paolo’s publications were highly esteemed, their sale was slow. In 1556 he received for a time external support from the Venetian Academy, founded by Federigo Badoaro. But Badoaro failed disgracefully in 1559, and the academy was extinct in 1562. Meanwhile Paolo had established his brother, Antonio, a man of good parts but indifferent conduct, in a printing office and book shop at Bologna. Antonio died in 1559, having been a source of trouble and expense to Paolo during the last four years of his life. Other pecuniary embarrassments arose from a contract for supplying fish to Venice, into which Paolo had somewhat strangely entered with the government. In 1561 pope Pius IV. invited him to Rome, offering him a yearly stipend of 500 ducats, and undertaking to establish and maintain his press there. The profits on publications were to be divided between Paolo Manuzio and the Apostolic camera. Paolo accepted the invitation, and spent the larger portion of his life, under three papacies, with varying fortunes, in the city of Rome. Ill-health, the commercial interests he had left behind at Venice, and the coldness shown him by pope Pius V., induced him at various times and for several reasons to leave Rome. As was natural, his editions after his removal to Rome were mostly Latin works of theology and Biblical or patristic literature.

Paolo married Caterina Odoni in 1546. She brought him three sons and one daughter. His eldest son, the younger Aldus, succeeded him in the management of the Venetian printing house when his father settled at Rome in 1561. Paolo had never been a strong man, and his health was overtaxed with studies and commercial worries. Yet he lived into his sixty-second year, and died at Rome in 1574.

3. Aldus Manutius, Junior (1547–1597). The younger Aldo born in the year after his father Paolo’s marriage, proved what is called an infant prodigy. When he was nine years old his name was placed upon the title page of the famous Eleganze della lingua Toscana e Latina. The Eleganze was probably a book made for his instruction and in his company by his father. In 1561, at the age of fourteen, he produced a work upon Latin spelling, called Orthographiae ratio. During a visit to his father at Rome in the next year he was able to improve this treatise by the study of inscriptions, and in 1575 he completed his labours in the same field by the publication of an Epitome orthographiae. Whether Aldo was the sole composer of the work on spelling, in its first edition, may be doubted; but he appropriated the subject and made it his own. Probably his greatest service to scholarship is this analysis of the principles of orthography in Latin.

Aldo remained at Venice, studying literature and superintending the Aldine press. In 1572 he married Francesca Lucrezia daughter of Bartolommeo Giunta, and great-grandchild of the first Giunta, who founded the famous printing house in Venice. This was an alliance which augured well of the Giunta for the future of the Aldines, especially as Aldo had recently found time to publish a new revised edition of Velleius Paterculus. Two years later the death of his father at Rome placed Aldo at the head of the firm. In concert with the Giunta, he now edited an extensive collection of Italian letters, and in 1576 he published his commentary upon the Ars poetica of Horace. About the same time, that is to say, about the year 1576, he was appointed professor of literature to the Cancelleria at Venice. The Aldine press continued through this period to issue books, but none of signal merit; and in 1585 Aldo determined to quit his native city for Bologna, where he occupied the chair of eloquence for a few months. In 1587 he left Bologna for Pisa, and there, in his quality of professor, he made the curious mistake of printing Alberti’s comedy Philodoxius as a work of the classic Lepidus. Sixtus V. drew him in 1588 from Tuscany to Rome; and at Rome he hoped to make a permanent settlement as lecturer. But his public lessons were ill attended, and he soon fell back upon his old vocation of publisher under the patronage of a new pope, Clement VIII. In 1597 he died, leaving children, but none who cared or had capacity to carry on the Aldine press. Aldo himself, though a precocious student, a scholar of no mean ability, and a publisher of some distinction, was the least remarkable of the three men who gave books to the public under the old Aldine ensign. This does not of necessity mean that we should adopt Scaliger’s critique of the younger Aldo without reservation. Scaliger called him “a poverty-stricken talent, slow in operation; his work is very commonplace; he aped his father.” What is true in this remark lies partly in the fact that scholarship in Aldo’s days had flown beyond