1902 Encyclopedia > Manutius family (Aldus Manutius, Paulus Manutius, Aldus Manutius, Jr)

Manutius family
(Aldus Manutius, Paulus Manutius, Aldus Manutius, Jr)
Italian printers and publishers who ran the Aldine Press
(15th-16th century AD)


I. ALDUS MANUTIUS (1150-1515). Teo-baldo Mannucci,better known as Aldo Manuzio, the founder of the Aldine press, was born in 1450 at Sennoneta in the Papal States. He received a scholar's training, studying Latin at Rome under Gasparino da Verona, and Greek at Ferrara underGuarino da Verona. Having qualified himself for the career of a humanist, according to the custom of the century, he went in 1482 to reside at Mirándola with his old friend aud fellow-student, the illustrious Giovanni Pico. There he stayed two years, prosecuting his studies in Greek literature. Before Pico removed to Florence, he procured for Aldo the post of tutor to his nephews Alberto and Lionello Pio, princes of Carpi. To Alberto Pio the world owes a debt of gratitude, inasmuch as he supplied Aldo with funds for starting his printing press, and gave him lands at Carpi. It was Aldo's ambition to secure the literature of Greece from further accident by committing its chief masterpieces to type; and the history of his life is the record of the execution of this gigantic task. Before his time four Italian towns had won the honours of Greek publications:—Milan, with the grammar of Lascaris, ¿Esop, Theocritus, a Greek Psalter, and Isocrates, between 1476 and 1493 ; Venice, with the Erotemata of Chrysoloras in 1484; Vicenza, with reprints of Lascaris's grammar and the Erotemata, in 1488 and 1490; Florence, with Alopa's Homer, in 1488. Of these works, only three, the Milanese Theocritus and Isocrates and the Florentine Homer, were classics. Aldo selected Venice as the most appropriate station for his labours. He settled there in 1490, and soon afterwards gave to the world editions of the Hero and Leander of Musasus, the Galeomyomachia, and the Greek Psalter. These have no date; but they are the earliest tracts issued from his press, and are called by him " Precursors of the Greek Library."

At Venice Aldo gathered an army of Greek scholars and compositors around him. His trade was carried on by Greeks, and Greek was the language of his household. Instructions to type-setters and binders were given in Greek. The prefaces to his editions were written in Greek. Greeks from Crete collated MSS., read proofs, and gave models of calligraphy for casts of Greek type. Not counting the craftsmen employed in merely manual labour, Aldo entertained as many as thirty of these Greek assistants in his family. His own industry and energy were unremitting. In 1495 he issued the first volume of his Aristotle. Four more volumes completed the work in 1497-98. Nine comedies of Aristophanes appeared in 1498. Thucydides, Sophocles, and Herodotus followed in 1502 ; Xenophon's Hellenics and Euripides in 1503; Demosthenes in 1504. The troubles of Italy, which pressed heavily on Venice at this epoch, suspended Aldo's labours for a while. But in 1508 he resumed his series with an edition of the minor Greek orators; and in 1509 appeared the lesser works of Plutarch. Then came another stoppage. The league of Cambray had driven Venice back to her lagoons, and all the forces of the republic were concentrated on a struggle to the death with the allied powers of Europe. In 1513 Aldo reappeared with Plato, which he dedicated to Leo X. in a preface eloquently and earnestly comparing the miseries of warfare and the woes of Italy with the sublime and tranquil objects of the student's life. Pindar, Hesychius, and Athenseus followed in 1514.

These complete the list of Aldo's prime services to Greek literature. But it may be well in this place to observe that his successors continued his work by giving Pausanias, Strabo, vEschylus, Galen, Hippocrates, and Longinus to the world in first editions. Omission has been made of Aldo's reprints, in order that the attention of the reader might be concentrated on his labours in editing Greek classics from MSS. Other presses were at work in Italy; and, as the classics issued from Florence, Rome, or Milan, Aldo took them up, bestowing in each case fresh industry upon the collation of codices and the correction of texts. Nor was the Aldine press idle in regard to Latin and Italian classics. The Asolani of Bembo, the collected writings of Poliziano, the Hypnerotomacliia Poliphili, Dante's Divine Comedy, Petrarch's poems, a collection of early Latin poets of the Christian era, the letters of the younger Pliny, the poems of Pontanus, Sannazzaro's Arcadia, Quintilian, Valerius Maximus, and the Adagia of Erasmus were printed, either in first editions, or with a beauty of type and paper never reached before, between the years 1495 and 1514. For these Italian and Latin editions Aldo had the elegant type struck which bears his name. It is said to have been copied from Petrarch's handwriting, and was cast under the direction of Francesco da Bologna, who has been identified by Panizzi with Francia the painter.

Aldo's enthusiasm for Greek literature was not confined to the printing-room. He burned with a humanist's euthusiasm for the books he printed; and we may weH pause astonished at his industry, when we remember wdiat a task it was in that age to prepare texts of authors so numerous and so voluminous from MSS. Whatever the students of .this century may think of Aldo's scholarship, they must allow that only vast erudition and thorough familiarity with the Greek language could have enabled him to accomplish what he did. In his own days Aldo's learning won the hearty acknowledgment of ripe scholars. To his fellow workers he was uniformly generous, free from jealousy, and prodigal of praise. His stores of MSS. were as open to the learned as his printed books were liberally given to the public. While aiming at that excellence of typography which renders his editions the treasures of the book-collector, he strove at the same time to make them cheap. We may perhaps roughly estimate the 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 mem-bers 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 Aide 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 as-sociated 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 mottofestina 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.

II. 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 with unremitting industry at Venice. Excessive applica-tion 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 (1514-33) 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 them-selves, dispensing with the service of competent colla-borators. The result was that some of their editions, especially their iEschylus 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 publica-tions 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. But of these excursions it is not necessary to take particular notice. As was natural, his editions after his removal to Rome were mostly Latin works of theology and Biblical or patristic literature.

Paolo married his wife, 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.

III. ALDUS MANUTIUS, JUNIOR (1547-1597). The younger Aldo, born in the year after his father Paolo's marriage, cradled in scholarship, and suckled as it were with printer's ink, 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. What his share was in that really excellent selection cannot be ascertained ; but it is hardly possible that a boy of nine could have compiled it without assistance. 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 Ortho-graphic 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 Orthographix. 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, prosecuting studies in literature and superintending the Aldine press. But in these days of early manhood he was not satisfied with the career of scholarship and business. At one time he hankered after the more worldly honours of the law, at another he built a country house at Asola, perplexing his father, who had given him too easy independence, with the humours of his age. A marriage came to make these matters straight. The Giunta family had been steadily rising in the world as printers, in proportion as the Aldi declined through want of concentration upon commerce. In 1572 Aldo took for his wife 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 for the future of the Aldines, especially as the young husband, in the midst of distractions, 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 his new relatives, the Giunta, he now edited an extensive collection of Italian letters, and in 1576 he appeared again before the public as a critic with his commentary upon the Ars Poetica of Horace. Printing, in this case, as in the case of his father, went hand in hand with original authorship. 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 the tenth year of his residence at Rome, that is, 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. Times had changed in Italy since Aldo the elder conceived the great idea of reaping for the press the harvest of Greek literature. And his posterity had changed with the times for the worse. 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 the Alps, where a new growth of erudition, on a basis different from that of the Italian Renaissance, had begun.

Renouard's Annales de l'Imprimerie des Aldes, Paris, 1834, and Didot's Alde Manuce, Paris, 1873, contain all necessary information regarding the lives of the Manutii and their publications. (J. A. S.)

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