Virgil with an "i". The First edition of Valeriano's "Corrections and Variants"

VERGIL. Valeriano, Pierio (1477-1560)

Castigationes et uarietates Virgilianae lectionis. per Ioannem Pierium Valerianum

Rome: Ant. Blades Asulanus, 1521


Folio: [28], lxxi, [1], 212 [i.e. 202], [2] p. Collation: aa, bb-hh, A-R.


With a dedicatory letter (aa2-3) to Cardinal Giulio de' Medici (1478-1534) (the future Pope Clement VII) and a magnificent, full-page woodcut of the cardinal's arms (f. bb6v). A papal privilege, granted by Leo X and signed by Jacopo Sadoleto, is printed on the verso of the title page. Bound in early Italian carta rustica. A broad-margined copy with some soiling and staining to the title, some preliminary leaves, and the final two signatures.

FIRST EDITION of this groundbreaking work of Renaissance textual analysis. The book, with its collations of several manuscripts of Virgil, was "the first text-critical commentary that centered on recording and assessing the readings of the manuscripts."(Grafton) The book also includes Valeriano's famous attempt to resolve the vexing question of how Virgil/Vergil spelled his name. It was Valeriano, an adherent to the methods of Poliziano, who nevertheless broke with his esteemed predecessor and "gave Europe scholarly permission to ignore Poliziano and spell Virgil's name with an 'i'."

"Born and educated in the Veneto, Valeriano is well-known to art historians as the author of 'Hieroglyphica' (1556), a 58-book commentary on the symbolic vocabulary of pagan antiquities. A love poet, satirist, and translator, Valeriano also wrote a dialogue, 'The Misfortune of Educated men', which documents the culture of a Renaissance court and the personalities of classical scholarship. His lectures on Catullus were groundbreaking but his first great success was his book on Virgil.

"Most editors in this period make only vague references to the 'antiqui codices' they have consulted. Valeriano, however, describes his manuscripts in some detail. Though he makes frequent use of a 'codex Oblongus' and a 'codex Longobardus,' his main authorities are a 'codex Romanus' and a 'codex Mediceus.' Zabughin identified these manuscripts as Vat. Lat. 1574, Vat. Lat. 1573, Laurentian 39.23, and Vat. Lat. 3867, respectively. The most important of these, as Valeriano recognized, was the codex Romanus: along with the codex Palatinus (Vat. Pal. lat. 1631) and a different Codex Mediceus (Laurentian Lib. 39.1 and Vatican lat. 3225 sig. 76), the Romanus is the 'mainstay' of the modern editor"(Wilson-Okamura, Virgil in the Renaissance, p. 38 ff.)

"In his preface, Valeriano argued that the printed texts of Virgil had to be corrected against the oldest extant manuscripts. He set out to provide not a new edition but new evidence with which future editors could improve the printed vulgate. He carefully identified the manuscripts that he had collated and listed the standard names by which he would refer to them…

"Valeriano rightly refused to arrange his Virgil manuscripts genealogically, for not even the Codex Romanus could be singled out as the parent of the rest… If he could not employ the elimination principle, Valeriano nevertheless emulated Poliziano in other ways. He regularly mentioned the owner or location of the manuscripts he cited, and he gave clear if summary indications of their age and script… Even more carefully than Poliziano, he recorded every detail of the manuscript evidence.

"Moreover, and most important, the whole form of Valeriano's work showed how clearly he had grasped one of Poliziano's central insights. For the 'Castigationes' appeared without a text of Virgil; they are a set of critical annotations… Valeriano was the first to publish a text-critical commentary that centered on recording and assessing the readings of the manuscripts. By doing so, he created something like a critical apparatus in the modern sense. And by printing the 'apparatus editorum in usum' he showed that he had grasped Poliziano's insight into the difference between collation and emendation. Like Poliziano, he understood that all the manuscript evidence must be collected and recorded before a critical text could be established."(Grafton, Joseph Scaliger, Vol. I, p. 48-51)

Adams; V49; BM STC Italian, 1465-1600, p. 707; Fumagalli, G. Catalogo delle edizioni romane di Antonio Blado Asolano ed eredi, 6