A Fine Copy of the Second Aldine Catullus: With A Few Contemporary Annotations

Catullus, Gaius Valerius (Ca. 84-Ca.54 B.C.); Tibullus (Ca. 50-Ca.18 B.C.); Propertius, Sextus. (Ca. 49-Ca. 16 B.C.)

Catullus. Tibullus. Propertius.

Venice: In aedibvs Aldi, et Andreae soceri, 1515


Octavo: 15 x 10 cm. 148, [2] leaves. Collation: A-D8, E10, AA-DD8, EE4, a-i8


With the woodcut Aldine anchor device on the title page and the verso of the final leaf. A lovely copy in early limp vellum. The contents are fresh and wide-margined, with a few small stains and some worming in the blank lower margin, not affecting the text. Excellent. Annotated by a contemporary reader with some alternate readings of the text, and some underscores. The annotator has marked some of his notes with small “P”s and “G”s, almost certainly references to the readings of Parthenius, whose edition first appeared in 1485, and Guarinus, whose edition was printed in 1521. Unless the annotator had access to an unpublished manuscript, the latter date gives us a terminus post quem for the annotations.

This edition of the poems of Catullus, Tibullus and Propertius, was co-edited by Girolamo Avanzi (fl. 1500.) and Aldus himself. The first Aldine Catullus, one of the first of the "libri portatiles", the handy ("forma enchiridii") octavo-sized format that Aldus popularized, appeared in 1502.  In his epistle to the reader in the second edition, Aldus informs us that Avanzi has made further improvements upon the text for this edition.

"Avantius was younger by a generation than all of his Catullan predecessors, and a more careful textual critic than any-with the obvious exception of Poliziano. He was to become a professional editor of Latin poetry, principally for Tacuino and Aldus.

"Because Avanzi was more systematic, thorough, and knowledgeable than his predecessors -and because he had the whole printed tradition to work with- he was able to make an enormous contribution to the text of Catullus in the ‘Emendationes’. In addition to a large number of emendations, he made dozens of corrections both to the printed tradition as a whole and to the recent base text of Calfurnio and Partenio. He also made some improvements in the ‘dispositio carminum’, although this was becoming increasingly difficult, since the easy corrections had already been made." (Gaisser, Catullus and His Renaissance Readers. p.52 ff.)


"Catullus’ name and poetry are traditionally associated with the 'neoteric revolution'; indeed, they are the most important document of it. It is a revolution in literary taste but also a revolution in ethics. While at a time of acute crisis for the Republic the old moral and political values of the 'civitas' are crumbling, personal 'otium' becomes the attractive alternative to communal life, the space in which to devote oneself to culture, poetry, friendship, and love. The small universe of the individual, with its joys and dramas, is identified with the very horizon of existence, and literary activity no longer turns towards epic and tragedy, the genres that speak for the state and its values, but rather toward lyric, towards personal poetry, which is introverted and suitable for embracing and expressing the small events of private life."

"[Catullus’ poetry] achieved a vast and immediate success among cultivated Latin readers. In particular, it exercised a profound influence upon the Augustan poets (with the exception of Horace). Not only the elegists, who regard Catullus as one of their most important literary ancestors, but also the Vergil of the 'Eclogues' and the Dido episode slip irresistibly into the language of Catullus when they combine erotic passion with refined diction and baroque style.”(Conte, ‘Latin Literature, A History’)

Ahmanson-Murphy, No. 131; Renouard, p. 70; Adams, C-1139