Adventure and Art
48. Urbanus Bellunensis
lnstitutiones Graccae grammaticcs.
Venice:Aldus Manutius,January 1497.
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Eiiíry 4c?, Figure 26.
Urbanus Bellunensis (Urbano 1442-1524).
lnstitutiones Graecae grammatices.
Venice: Aldus Manutius, 1497.
Actual size of page 13.2 x 10.2 cm.
The first of several great accomplish¬
ments of the scholar-printer Aldus
Manutius (ca. 1450-1515) was to
inaugurate, from 1494 onward, a com¬
prehensive program of Greek publish¬
ing. This comprehended not just his
multivolume Aristotle (1495-1498)
and other major classical texts, but also
various smaller helps to studying
Greek. In 1495 he had printed the
grammars of two native Greeks,
Theodore Gaza and Constantine Las-
caris, but neither was suited for non-
native beginners. Aldus commissioned,
therefore, the present grammar, writ¬
ten in Latin. Incunable catalogs gener¬
ally date the work to January 1498,
assuming that its colophon, "M.HID.
mense Ianuario," followed the Venetian
custom of year-changes at 1 March
rather than the 1 January of the
Roman year. This interpretation is
doubtful, however. In the Greek dic¬
tionary Thesaurus Comucopiae, com¬
pleted by Aldus in August 1496, he
stated that Urbanos grammar was
shortly to appear.
The author, Fra Urbano of Belluno,
was a Franciscan monk who had ear¬
lier traveled extensively in the Levant
and in the 1480s had been in Flo¬
rence, where he tutored Giovanni de'
Medici (future pope Leo X). In the
1490s he resettled in the convent dei
Frari in Venice, and gained a consider¬
able reputation there as a teacher of
The First One Hundred Years of Printing
Greek. Aldus dedicated Urbano 's grammar to
Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola (1469-1533),
nephew of the philosopher Giovanni Pico, count of
Mirandola (1463-1494), who had been a close friend
and patron of Aldus's. In 1512 Urbano produced an
enlarged and heavily revised edition, which was
frequently reprinted into the 1560s.
The early editions identify Urbanus simply by his
Christian name (which is how Aldus identified him),
or as Urbanus Bellunensis—of Belluno—or as
Urbanus Bolzanius. His true family name appears
to have been Dalle Fosse. Several recent studies have
misnamed him Urbano Valeriano, but this is an
invented surname taken on for its ancient connota¬
tions by his nephew, the humanist Piero Valeriani
(1477-1558); Urbano did not use it.
49. Sallust (86-34 b.c.)
De conivratione Catilinae ...De bello Iugurthino [and
other works] Venice: Aldus Manutius, April 1509. 8".
Printed in Venice by Aldus Manutius, in 1509, this edi¬
tion of Sallust is one of Aldus's so-called "handbooks"
(enchiridia)—small classical texts, bearing his anchor
and dolphin (a graphic restatement of the motto,
festina lente, "make haste slowly"), of which Erasmus
said memorably, the image is known wherever good
learning is cherished.
The Rutgers copy bound in early calf binding
stamped blind and in gold, with gauffered text edges.
Reference: Adams S139; Renouard Aide 57(3)