display | more...

Born 1547 Died 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 the Alps, where a new growth of erudition, on a basis different from that of the Italian Renaissance, had begun.

Extracted from the entry for MANUTIUS in the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica, the text of which lies within the public domain.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.