Although the choices of text and editor continued to expand in the last half of the sixteenth century and into the seventeenth, the Italian market remained highly traditional in terms of format and presentation. Octavos like those of Griffio and the Aldine press got more and more annotation, but really substantial folio editions for teachers also continued to appear, especially at Venice and Milan. These folios offer a useful index of how printers constantly tinkered with the building blocks of text, commentary, illustration, and layout. That new editions appeared every few years means that Terence remained a staple of textbook publishing. The plays commanded a substantial number of new customers each year who demanded a certain look and feel and who expected to find this text in every serious bookshop. Latin teachers probably did not give such books to their students; but apparently most teachers wanted to own a Terence with extensive commentary and critical apparatus, front matter arranged strictly to pattern, and indexes to help in using the text and commentary for comparison to other classical authors.

A monumental title page (click to enlarge - 401 KB jpeg file)

A monumental title page (click to enlarge - 401 KB jpeg file)

The model for the front matter typical of the last half of the century was the beautiful Venice edition of 1545 printed by Girolomo Scoto. We find many variations on the pattern there established but they are usually just that, variations on a formula Scoto devised and others admired. Scoto's front matter occupied fourteen leaves (two gatherings of six and eight leaves respectively).

More advertising (click to enlarge - 512 KB jpeg file)

More advertising (click to enlarge - 512 KB jpeg file)

After a typographically restrained title page with elegant centering and a prominent printer’s mark, the unpaginated front matter included Philip Melanchthon’s summaries of the six plays; Erasmus’s notes on Terence’s meters and themes; Antonio Gouveia’s corrections and annotations on each play; the life of Terence by Aelius Donatus; the Castigationes (textual emendations) of Pietro Bembo; and poetic tributes to Terence. This front matter was remarkably stable once it had been set by Scoto. In 1553, Bartolomeo Cesano rearranged it very slightly and, by employing a much smaller type face, managed to add a four-page index within the fourteen leaves of front matter. Giovanni Maria Bonelli took over Cesano’s formatting in page-for-page and line-for-line reprints of this same front matter in 1561 and 1567; and Bonelli’s heirs reprinted it again in 1570.


Title pages from 1545 to the end of the century also stick closely to pattern typographically, although, since these are advertisements, the wording varies somewhat. In 1553, for example, Cesano trumpeted all the things he borrowed from earlier editions right on the title page: commentaries by four big names (Donatus, Cenomanni, Marsi, and Calfurnio); prefatory material by Desiderius Erasmus, summaries and notes in text by Phillip Melancthon, Antonio Gouveia, Bartholomaeus Latomus, Heinrich Glareanus, and Joannes Rivius; and marginal variants to the traditional text following the prestigious editions of Aldus and Gryphius. This puffery was a variant of Scoto's 1545 table of contents; but where Scoto had placed the adverts on the verso of the title page, presumably to preserve the classical restraint of his title, Cesano opted for more up-front advertising and a more crowded title page.

After they appeared on the Index of Prohibited Books in the fifteen fifties, the names of Erasmus and Melanchthon were often cancelled by hand, both on the title pages and also inside the books. (64) But the useful classroom materials they had composed were left intact. A close reprint of the title and front matter of Cesano's edition was that of Bonelli in 1561. This contained all the advertising prose of Cesano with three significant changes. The contributions of Erasmus and Melancthon, though found in their assigned places inside the book, do not appear in the list on the title page and are unattributed in the text -- a direct typographic imitation of the manual censorship we can witness in surviving copies of the earlier editions. A third change is less easily explained. Cesano had taken over Scoto’s 1545 wording to advertise the presence of important marginal variants from Aldine and Gryphius editions. Bonelli uses the same wording but fails to name the sources. Apparently the association of these materials with the great Venetian and Lyonese presses of the past seemed like good advertising to Cesano but not to Bonelli.

The Scoto-Cesano-Bonelli model influenced other Venetian printers as well, though others felt able to depart from the pattern to some degree. Perhaps in reaction to the slavish copies of his earlier Terence made by Cesano and Bonelli, Girolamo Scoto issued a new Terence in 1569 that compressed the front matter into ten leaves. He was really reprinting his own 1545 edition, however, and not that of his rivals on the market, and so he did not include their indexes. He discreetly omitted all explicit mention of Erasmus and Melancthon, although he included their invaluable introductory material and comments. To emphasize the supposed novelty of his edition, moreover, he redesigned the title page, abandoning the chaste classicism of his 1545 title. He framed the author’s name in a cartouche made up of printer’s flowers and added other decorative elements; and he put the entire contents on the title page by way of advertisement. Eleven years later Giovanni Griffio the Younger issued yet another new folio Terence (1580b) which combined elements from the Cesano-Bonelli model and that of the 1569 Scoto. The title page listed all the contents (pace Erasmus and Melancthon who were again present but unnamed) and strengthened the design of the title page with extremely large type (at over 36 point) for the author’s name and a bold roman (about 20 point) for the imprint.

Open Bibliography (330 KB pdf)
(64)  E.g. copies of Terence 1539 at the Newberry Library; Terence 1545 at the Biblioteca Ambrosiana; and Terence 1553 at Washington University Library.

Posted by admin on September 16, 2008
Tags: Chapter One

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Janice Gunther on paragraph 1:

I can understand why teachers would want editions of Terence with several commentaries and an extensive critical apparatus. But would young students also own copies of Terence with at least some apparatus, or would they use copies without much/any apparatus and make annotations themselves? In reading about all these editions, I keep comparing them to the appearance of the chaste manuscript version of chapter 1.05. But even in manuscript, you mentioned that there were plenty of commentaries and annotations. Do we find manuscript copies of Terence where the commentaries crowd out the text, or were they normally copied separately, and perhaps bound together? You also mentioned that the de Gouveia commentary was printed separately- how frequently were commentaries printed separately (and perhaps bound with another copy of Terence)? Do you think that teachers became increasingly reliant on commentaries in their teaching, compared with the 15th century, or did they just have more choices? Thanks!

September 20, 2011 8:10 am
Paul Gehl on paragraph 1:

Hi, Janice. The hyper-extended commentaries we see in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries are definitely a creation of the market for print. Some heavily commented texts existed in the Middle Ages, but they were reference copies owned by teachers, scholars, or libraries and usually confected exclusively for local use. Students most often took down the text and whatever notes they needed by dictation. The separate commentaries by humanists were intended for advanced study; I have never seen one bound with a base text, but that may just be because I have not been looking for them. As to the degree of dependence on commentaries, that is hard to say. Certainly there were more choices, and I suspect teachers by the early sixteenth century would not have been comfortable teaching without a commentary to hand. But what we know of teaching in the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance suggests that was always true.

September 20, 2011 4:23 pm
Paul Gehl on paragraph 6:

In a recent discussion with Maurizio Campanelli, he pointed out that when in 1561 Giovanni Maria Bonelli dropped the wording about incorporating emendations from the Aldine and Gryphius texts, he may have been trying to steer clear of the new privilege granted to the Aldine edition of 1555. My thanks to Maurizio for this suggestion.

July 22, 2012 3:27 pm

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