Anchor and dolphin printer's device of Aldus Manutius
Item 6. leaf H2v

Dante Alighieri. Le Terze rime di Dante. Venice: Aldus Manutius, August 1502 [2nd issue].

This volume represents many firsts. It is the first portable edition of Dante’s poem. It is also the first edition of the poet’s work by the Venetian press of Aldus Manutius (ca. 1450–1515). Manutius produced two issues of the edition; only the second of which bears his famous anchor–and–dolphin printer’s device. A new title for Dante’s poem also makes its first appearance in this edition.

The text was edited by Pietro Bembo (1470–1547), a Venetian humanist and, late in life, a cardinal. Bembo sought to purify the Italian language through close imitation of earlier vernacular poetry, specifically that of the Tuscan poets Petrarch and Boccaccio. His edition of Dante’s Divina commedia became the preferred text until the nineteenth century.

References: Mambelli 17
Shelf mark: 851D23 Od 1502

7 Dante Alighieri. Opere del divino poeta Danthe con suoi comenti. Venice: Bernardino Stagnino, 28 March 1520.

Title page to Stagnino's 1520 edition
Item 7. title page

Cristoforo Landino’s commentary as edited by Pietro da Figino appears alongside Pietro Bembo’s text in this reprint of Stagnino’s 1512 edition. The title page is printed in red and black with two woodcut illustrations and a woodcut border. One of the illustrations is Stagnino’s device depicting St. Bernardine of Siena holding the sacred monogram of Jesus on a board. The other illustration is of Adam and Eve with God in the Garden of Eden. This copy bears a trace of gold illumination visible on Bernardine’s hood and on the Maltese cross below the title.

References: Mambelli 27
Shelf mark: 851D23 Od 1520

8 Dante Alighieri. Dante con l’espositioni di Christoforo Landino, et d’Alessandro Vellutello sopra la sua comedia dell’Inferno, del Purgatorio, & del Paradiso. Con tavole, argomenti, & allegorie, & riformato, riveduto, & ridotto alla sua vera lettura, per Francesco Sansovino fiorentino. Venice: Heirs of Francesco Rampazetto for Giovanni Battista Sessa, Melchior Sessa, and brothers, 1578.

Expurgated portion of Paradiso 9
Item 8. leaf RR5v

This is the second of three sixteenth–century editions of Dante published by the Sessa family of Venetian printers. As indicated by the colophon, the edition was printed by the heirs of Francesco Rampazetto. The text was edited by Francesco Sansovino, a Florentine who departed from the text established by Pietro Bembo, a Venetian (see Item 6). Sansovino innovatively combined the commentaries of Cristoforo Landino and Alessandro Vellutello in the first Sessa edition of 1564.

Inscriptions on the title page of this copy provide evidence that the book was owned by the Spanish poet Francisco de Quevedo (1580–1645), and the volume bears annotations by him. In 1697, the Convento de San Martín in Madrid acquired this copy, and two clerics expurgated several passages of text deemed offensive in the Index librorum prohibitorum, the Catholic Church’s list of prohibited books. In the still–visible text of an expurgated portion of Paradiso 9, Folquet de Marseille is explaining that scholars have turned to studying the decretals—by which they may profit financially—instead of studying the Gospels and the great Doctors of the Church. The obliterated text is Folquet’s prophecy that the Church will be purged of this practice:

A questo intende il papa e’ cardinali;
non vanno i lor pensieri a Nazarette
là dove Gabrïello aperse l’ali.
Ma Vaticano e l’altre parti elette
di Roma che son state cimitero
a la milizia che Pietro seguette,
tosto libere fien de l’avoltero.

[Thereon the Pope and Cardinals are intent.
Their thoughts go not to Nazareth
whither Gabriel spread his wings.
But the Vatican and the other chosen parts
of Rome which have been the burial place
for soldiery that followed Peter
shall soon be free from this authority.]

References: Mambelli 49
Shelf mark: Q.851D23 Od.s 1578

9 Dante Alighieri. La Divina comedia. Venice: Nicolò Misserini, 1629.

Misserini 1629 edition title page
Item 9. leaf r6v

This is the last of only three editions of the Divina commedia printed in the seventeenth century, an anticlimax to more than thirty in the sixteenth century. The text of this miniature edition—like the two others from the same century—is that of Lodovico Dolce’s 1555 edition and includes his Vita di Dante, or Life of Dante. All three seventeenth–century editions are diminutive, physically reflecting the diminished reputation of Dante in this period and standing in sharp contrast to the large scholarly editions that attended the poem at the end of the fifteenth century.

There are many reasons for the seventeenth–century decline of Dante’s fame. Aside from the placement of the Divina commedia on the Index librorum prohibitorum, Dante’s poetry did not agree with the “baroque aesthetic,” and the poet was considered to be “too primitive” when compared to the emerging stream of modern poetry (Cachey, et al.). These factors discouraged interest in Dante’s works for nearly a century.

References: Mambelli 55
Shelf mark: Mini 851D23 Od.d 1629

10 Dante Alighieri. Dante col sito, et forma dell’Inferno tratta dalla istessa descrittione del poeta. Venice: Aldus Manutius and Andreas Torresanus de Asula, August 1515.

For his second edition of the Divina commedia, Aldus Manutius collaborated with his father–in–law, Andreas Torresanus de Asula (1451–1529), who ensured that the book was published after Manutius’s death. This edition is notable for its schematic illustrations of Dante’s hell and purgatory.

References: Mambelli 24
Shelf mark: 851D23 Od 1515

11 Rime di diversi antichi autori toscani in dieci libri raccolte. Venice: Giovanni Antonio da Sabio and brothers, 1532.

A corrected reprint of the 1527 Florentine edition, this volume contains Dante’s canzoni and sonnets along with poetry by Cino da Pistoia, Guido Cavalcanti, Dante da Maiano, and Guittone d’Arezzo, all Tuscan contemporaries of Dante. In his preface to the volume, Bernardo di Giunta (1487–1551) addresses “gioveni amatori de le toscane rime,” or, “young lovers of Tuscan poetry.”

References: Mambelli 996
Shelf mark: 850.81 R46

12 Dante Alighieri. Comedia del divino poeta Danthe Alighieri, con la dotta & leggiadra spositione di Christophoro Landino. Venice: Printed by Bernardino Stagnino for Giovanni Giolito, 1536.

This is Stagnino’s third edition of the Divina commedia and is almost identical textually to the editions of 1512 and 1520 (see Item 8). This edition, however, contains a useful “tavola”, or, index, which contains “... le storie, favole, sententie, & le cose memorabili & degne di annotatione che in tutta L’opera si ritrovano,” or, “the histories, fables, thoughts, and things memorable and worthy of note which are found throughout the work.”

References: Mambelli 29
Shelf mark: 851D23 Od 1536

13 Dante Alighieri. La Comedia di Dante Aligieri con la nova espositione di Alessandro Vellutello. Venice: Printed by Francesco Marcolini for Alessandro Vellutello, June 1544.

Alessandro Vellutello’s commentary on the Divina commedia makes its first appearance in this edition. Little is known about Vellutello’s life except that he was from Lucca and active in Venice during the first half of the fifteenth century. The scholar sought to provide an alternative to Bembo’s text and Landino’s commentary with a literal and historical interpretation of the poem. However, his commentary was later published together with Landino’s, supplementing but not superseding it (see Item 12).

References: Mambelli 30
Shelf mark: 851D23 Od 1544

14 Dante Alighieri. Dante De la volgare eloquenzia. Col Castellano dialogo di M. Giovan Giorgio Trissino. De la lingua Italiana. Ferrara: Domenico Mamarelli, 1583.

Dante’s Latin treatise on the value of the vernacular as a literary language, De vulgari eloquentia, was first published in Paris in 1577. However, Giangiorgio Trissino’s (1478–1550) translation in Italian appeared in 1529. The 1583 edition is a corrected reprint of the 1529 translation and includes a dialogue entitled “Castellano” in which Trissino argues for a standard Italian language.

References: Cf. Mambelli 881
Shelf mark: 851D23 Ode 1583

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