1513 Aldine Cornucopia Classic Latin Encyclopedia Dictionary P.-incunabula Aldus

1513 Aldine Cornucopia Classic Latin Encyclopedia Dictionary P.-incunabula Aldus

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1513 Aldine Cornucopia Classic Latin Encyclopedia Dictionary P.-incunabula Aldus:

[Early Printing - Post-Incunabula - Venice - Aldine Press] [Dictionaries and Encyclopedias] [Linguistics and Lexicography - Latin language]
[Renaissance Humanism - Italiy] [Roman Classics - Martial - Epigrammata] [Nonius Marcellus]
[Festus, Sextus Pompeius] [Varro, Marcus Terentius]

Printed in Venice by Aldus Manutius and Andreas Torresanus, 1513. (First colophon (on K8r) dated September 1513; second colophon (on Y7v) dated November 1513.)

Latin text in fine Aldine italic with numerous brief passages in Greek.

SCARCE SECOND ALDINE EDITION, FIRST ISSUE, of this towering monument of Renaissance classical philology and Latin lexicography! Perotti's exhaustive commentary on the first book of Martial's epigrams, consulted long after as a Latin dictionary. A veritable storehouse of linguistic material, Perotti's Cornucopia was extensively mined (sometimes unscrupulously) by subsequent generations of writers and scholars, including Calepinus for his famous dictionary.

The work was first printed in Venice in 1489 (by Paganino de Paganini), the first Aldine edition appeared in 1499. This edition is the first to include additional grammatical and philological works by clasical Roman authors Sextus Pompeius Festus, Marcus Terentius Varro and Nonius Marcellus (edited with enlargements by Giovanni Giocondo).

This magnificently produced 1513 Aldine folio is considered by some to be "the noblest" (Nichols) edition of this important book, and is much rarer and more sought after than the 1517 Aldine reissue. We are pleased to offer a complete and very attractive copy of the desirable edition with very wide margins and in a pleasant late-Renaissance binding (presumably German) of quarter blind-stamped pigskin over wooden boards.

"The noblest of all [editions of Perotti's Cornucopia] was that of Aldus, at Venice, 1513. This, besides the most diligent emendations, was enriched by the edition of Varro, Festus, and Nonius Marcellus; which last was in this edition exceedingly improved and enlarged by J. Jucundus (a man of infinite erudition, whom Scaliger respected as his master)." (John Nichols, Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century, p.189)

In this formidable encyclopedic work the celebrated Italian humanist Niccolo Perotti presents to the reader an exhaustive discussion of the etymology, formation, and derivatives of classical Latin words and a wealth of fascinating information on the culture of ancient Rome. The Cornucopia effectively constitutes "a massive encyclopedia of the classical world. Every verse, indeed every word of Martial's text was a hook on which Perotti hung a densely woven tissue of linguistic, historical and cultural knowledge." (Brian W. Ogilvie, The Science of Describing: Natural History in Renaissance Europe, p. 118)

"Niccolo Perotti presented his Cornucopia - a commentary on the ancient Roman author Martial's scurrilous Epigrams - to Federigo [da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino] in a specially handwritten and finely illuminated copy on parchment with a dedication extolling his virtues as a 'soldier of the Church'. The work was a compilation of marginal comments and emendations Perotti had made to an illuminated Martial he himself had copied from an older [manuscript]. A generation later Perotti's son Pirro used the presentation copy from Federigo da Montefeltro's library as the copy-text for a printed edition of Cornucopia issued in Venice. Perotti's work went on to become a standard classroom text in the sixteenth century, running through numerous editions with a variety of publishing houses." (Lisa Jardine, Worldly Goods: A New History of the Renaissance, p.214)

Although Perotti completed his manuscript of Cornucopia in 1478, it was only published posthumously in 1489. "...Having finished it he laid it by, nor would he allow it to be printed during his life, on account of the obscenity and filthiness of several passages of the Author he illustrated." (Nichols, op. cit., p.188)

It should also be noted that several editions of the work are cited in Simon's bibliography of wine books Bibliotheca Bacchica on account of the numerous passages in the Cornucopia related to wine, viticulture and drunkenness.

Perotti's Cornucopia was highly valued by Renaissance humanists and classical scholars. It is known that Erasmus regarded it as a very useful reference work and took one adage from it for his famous collection (see Contemporaries of Erasmus, vol.3, p.68).

"The world was highly obliged to [Perotti] for his curious and useful collection of the purest and most genuine Latin. His large and elaborate Commentaries on Martial, which he intituled "Cornucopia" were of unspeakable service to young scholars, for whose benefit he wrote them: he has therein laid open the treasures of the Latin tongue; explained the nature and genius of it; shewn the peculiar signification of its words, and crowned all with so copious an index of them, that it might well serve for a Lexicon of that language, as it really did for a long while after.

[...] [A]ll the Literati of that age admired and commended these Commentaries of the renowned Perotti. [...] It would be superfluous to add here the testimonies of Gesner, Ludovicus Vives, Trithemius, and others, in honour of this noble work: Paulus Jovius supposed its intrinsic merit and serviceableness would render it immortal; and our Editors remark he judged rightly, as it has been taken into the composition of every subsequent Dictionary." (Nichols, op. cit., pp.189-190)

Niccolo Perotti (1429 - 1480), an Italian humanist and author of one of the first modern Latin school grammars. Perotti studied in Mantua, in Ferrara and at the University of Padua. When eighteen he spent some time in the household of the Englishman William Grey, who was travelling in Italy and transcribed texts for him. He was a secretary of Cardinal Basilius Bessarion in 1447 and from 1451 to 1453 taught rhetoric and poetry at the University of Bologna. In 1455 he became secretary to Pope Callixtus III and from 1458 he was Archbishop of Siponto. Between 1464 and 1477 he held various papal offices in Viterbo, Spoleto and Perugia, as well as travelling on diplomatic missions to Naples and Germany. Together with the Florentine bookseller Vespasiano da Bisticci, he collected books for the Papal library. Perotti remained active as a scholar throughout his career and engaged in bitter polemics with Poggio Bracciolini, Giovani Andrea Bussi and Domizio Calderini.

This edition is also significant for the history of patent law, as it includes in its preliminaries (leaf [10]6r,v) all the three patents granted to Aldus Manutius for his new typefaces by three Popes Alexander VI, Julius II and Leo X. In Aldus' time "Patents were granted only occasionally, usually for developments or improvements in the art of printing. One of the earliest examples granted in Venice was for printing Greek. Aldo Manuzio (Aldus Manutius) had requested a patent on 25 February 1496 for a period of twenty years for his new Greek typeface. [...] Five years later, on 23 March, 1501, Manuzio submitted another supplication for a ten-year patent for his new chancery cursive typeface. On 17 December 1502. Manuzio was also granted a papal patent by Pope Alexander VI for both his Greek and cursive type. Initially it was granted for ten years and was valid throughout Italy. When it was renewed by Julius II in January 1513, the duration was extended to fifteen years and its area of application was claimed to be all of Christiandom. Following the death of Julius, it was reconfirmed by Leo X in November 1513." (Christopher Witcombe, Copyright in the Renaissance: Prints and the Privilegio in Sixteenth-Century, p.21-2).

In this fine Aldine edition, Perotti's Cornucopia is elegantly printed in double columns in fine italic type, and is meticulously (and quite conveniently!) indexed: the columns as well as the lines within each column have been carefully numbered, so that the index can be precisely keyed. This innovative feature, first used in the first Aldine edition of 1499 (and advertised by Aldus in his preface thereto) in fact heralded the invention of a modern scholarly system of reference (see F. Geldner, Inkunabelkunde p. 69).

Among the copious Indexes occupying 150 pages preceding the main text make the work easily usable as a dictionary or an encyclopedia, and include a separate index of Stories (Historia), an index of Proverbs (Proverbia), of Medicines and Remedies (Remedia et medicamenta), etc.

Bibliographic references:

Adams P720; Renouard p.63/6; Ahmanson-Murphy 115.

Physical description:

Folio, textblock measures 313 mm x 217 mm. Bound in 16th-century (probably German) quarter alum-tawed pigskin (blind-rolled with mostly floral motifs) over wooden boards; two original (and fully functional) metal clasps. Spine with four prominent bands raised over binding cords; some blind-tooling in compartments.

79, [1 blank] leaves, 1436 columns, [1] leaf Signatures: [1-10]8 a-z8 , A-Y8 . (In all, 440 leaves, i.e. 880 pages).

Collated and COMPLETE (including the integral blank [10]8).

Woodcut Aldine device appears three times: on the title page [1]1, on K8v, and on verso of final leaf Y8v (recto blank).

Printed in Aldine italic letter throughout. Main text printed in double columns (63 lines per column); Indexes are printed in five columns. Capital spaces for initials (unrubricated) with guide letters.

Preliminaries include Aldus's short address to the reader on verso of title ([1]1v), a Preface (Proemium) by Pirro Perotti (the author's son) addressed to Federico da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino on leaf [1]2r,v, with a short biographical sketch of Martial on verso. These are followed by extensive Indexes on leaves [1]3r-[10]5v), Errata on [10]6r,v; the next leaf [10]6 contains three papal patents granted to Aldus for his innovative typefaces by popes Leo X (dated 28 Nov. 1513 and signed by Pietro Bembo), Julius II (dated 27 Jan. 1513), and Alexander VI (dated 17 Dec. 1502).

The Cornucopia is concluded by Perotti's address to Federico da Montefeltro (K2vr-K3r) and followed by his Commentariolus on Pliny's Epistles (dedicated to Francesco Guarnerio) on leaves K3r-K7r, and Cornelio Vitelli's annotations on that work on (K7r-K8r).

Separate divisional title to Sextus Pompeius on N1r, with a short epistle from Paul the Deacon to Charlemagne and another short preface by Aldus on verso.

Colophon and register on K8r and another one on Y7v.


Ownership signature (on title page) of Erhardus Barth[olomaeus] Chalcomontanus (= von Kupferberg?) presumably from Bavaria, dated 1597.

Further ownership inscription (partially obscured and effaced) of Georg [...] dated 1630.

Copious scholarly notes in Latin (on front endpapers and on the blank portion of leaf Y7v) regarding etymology and meaning of some German names.


Very Good antiquarian condition. Complete wide-margined example in contemporary binding. Binding rubbed with wear to edges of boards and ends of spine; some old repairs to lower spine. Rear board cracked but repaired, apparently at an early date, and is perfectly secure. Title with some marginal soiling and a couple of early ownership inscriptions, one of which is partially erased and partially cut out with a (very old) small patch in outer margin (not affecting text or printer's mark). Several leaves with dust-soiling at gutter in inner margins, and some other scattered marginal soiling; a few minor ink-spots, and a larger ink-smadge to leaf r6r, without any loss of legibility. A small burn-hole to index leaf [10]4 affecting three or four words. Occasional early underlining of some passages and some infrequent (and rather faded) marginalia in pale-red. Long scholarly notes in neat early hand to front endpapers and to the blank portion of leaf Y7v. Generally, a very pleasing, clean and bright, very large, unwashed and unpressed example of this rare and beautiful edition.

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On Feb-26-13 at 01:01:19 PST, seller added the following information:

The front endpapers with extensive scholarly notes in a 16th-century hand.

1513 Aldine Cornucopia Classic Latin Encyclopedia Dictionary P.-incunabula Aldus:

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