Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/598

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aim in youth was to qualify himself for the profession of a humanist. He studied Greek at Ferrara under Guarino da Verona, to whom he afterwards inscribed his Theocritus. At Rome Gasparino da Verona was his master in Latin. Aldo became tutor to the young princes of Carpi, Alberto and Lionello Pio, nephews of his old fellow-student, the brilliant Pico della Mirandola. But he had now formed the great design of printing all the masterpieces of Greek literature, and on that project all his thoughts were intent. He was supplied with the means of executing it by his pupil Alberto Pio, to whom, as ra> rtäv OVTWV epacrry, he dedicated the editio princeps of Aristotle. In 1490 he settled at Venice, in a house near the church of San Agostino, and entered upon preparations for his task. A Cretan, Marcus Musurus, was the most important of his assistants. The handwriting of Musurus was the pattern from which Aldo's Greek type was cast,—as, in a later day, Person's hand supplied a model to the Cambridge press. It is noteworthy that another Cretan, Demetrius, had designed the types used by Alopa in the Florentine Homer of 1488. Many of Aldo's compositors were likewise Cretans. His printing establishment at Venice was a Greek-speaking household. There was a separate department for binding books. The printing-ink was made in the house; the excellent paper came from the mills of Fabriano.

In 1493 Aldo began his series of Greek editions with the Hero and Leander of Musaeus; whom, as appears from the preface, he identified with the pre-Homeric bard of legend. Thenceforward Aldo's work was prosecuted with steady vigour, though not without some enforced interruptions. The whole of Hesiod, with Theocritus (thirty Idylls), Theognis, and some other gnomic poetry, came out in 1495. Aristotle, in five volumes, appeared in the years 1495-8. Nine plays of Aristophanes were issued in 1498. The year 1502 produced Thucydides, Sophocles, and Herodotus. In 1503 came Xenophon's Hellenica, and Euripides; in 1504, Demosthenes; in 1508, Lysias and other orators; in 1509, parts of Plutarch. The year 1513 was signalised by the editio princeps of Plato, dedicated to Leo X. In 1514 Pindar was sent forth; also Hesychius and Athenaeus. When Aldo died in 1515, he had produced twenty-eight editiones principes of Greek and Latin classics within the space of some twenty-two years. And these editions were of a merit hitherto unequalled. Pains had been taken with the collation of manuscripts and with criticism of the text; and in this respect many of the books, though they may fail to satisfy the modern standard, were superior to any that had preceded them. The printing was of much beauty; and the small form of the volumes was a welcome boon in an age accustomed to folios or quartos. But the most important benefit was the extraordinary cheapness of these editions. The price of an Aldine volume ranged from about a shilling to half-a-crown of our money. It was not without many difficulties and discouragements that such a result had