Virgilius Maro, Publius (70-19 B.C.); Calderini, Domizio (ca. 1443- 1478), commentator

Commentarii in quaedam Pseudo-Vergiliana.

Milan: Simone Magniago, about 1480


Quarto: ff. [26], Text in Latin, Roman type 1:99R, 31-32 lines. Collation: a-b8, c6, d4 (lacking final blank)

Bound in repurposed limp vellum from an antiphonal. An extremely fine, clean copy.

This is the first printed commentary on the poems attributed to Virgil, written by the Veronese humanist Domizio Calderini, who famously crossed pens with Angelo Poliziano, Niccolò Perotti, Giorgio Merula, and Pomponio Leto. 

CONTENT: Commentarius in Culicem — a7a: Annotatio brevis in Copam. — a7b: Commentarius in Elegias in Maecenatam. — b2a: In Diras. — b4a: In Copam. — b4b: Annotatio brevis in Pseudo–Ausonii idyll. 17 = Riese Anthol. Lat.2 645 (Est et non). 16 = AL 644 (Vir bonus). 14 = AL 646 (Rosae). — b6a: Commentarius alter in Elegias in Maecenatem. — c1b: Commentarius in Aetnam. — c5a: Commentarius in Cirim. 

REFERENCES: IGI 2362; GW 5894; BMC VI 761 (considering uncertain the attribution to Magniagus); BSB-Ink C-48; Goff C39; H 4240*; IBP 1370; Bod-inc C-025; Sheppard 4977; Proctor 7272. ISTC ic00039000. 

CENSUS (9): BRITISH ISLES (3): British Library (IA.26603), Aberystwyth NLW (bound together with Goff M504), Oxford Bodley; ITALY (2): Milano Ambrosiana (imperfect), Napoli N; GERMANY (1): München BSB; POLAND (1): Kraków, Czart; SOUTH AFRICA (1): Johannesburg UL; USA (1): PML.

The Veronese Domizio Calderini (1446-1478) was perhaps one of the most brilliant humanists of the second half of the 15thcentury. "Domesticus" and "secretarius" to Cardinal Bessarion, a popular and erudite lecturer, he was in constant contact (and often open controversy) with leading figures of the Roman humanist circle, and in his short life, the seemingly tireless philologist produced an impressive series of commentaries: on Martial, Juvenal, Ovid's Ibis, Statius' Sylvae, Propertius, Suetonius, the Epistolae ad Atticum and Against Verres of Cicero. Calderini also wrote a commentary on Virgil's Aeneid (or at least portions of it), and on the minor poems attributed to Virgil, opuscula Virgiliana, that in the later 16thc. came to be known collectively as the "Appendix Virgiliana".

Published posthumously around 1480, Calderini's commentary on the minor Virgilian poems (specifically, Culex, Copa, Dirae, Est et non, Vir bonus, De rosis, and the Elegiae in Maecenatem) was the first published commentary by a humanist on those works. The presence of two commentaries on the Culex and the Elegiae in Maecenatem (both in the printed edition and in the Codex Rossi in the Biblioteca Corsiniana in Rome) indicate that the commentary was either unfinished at the time of Calderini's death or that his comments on the individual poems were not meant to be used as a set.

The attribution to Calderini has been challenged more than once and the work has been compared to a commentary by Leto on the same poems, at times resulting in charges of plagiarism by Calderini.

The commentary is attested by -in addition to the printed edition- two manuscripts: Rome, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, cod. Lat. 2740 (with only five of the poems, including the second version of the commentary of Elegiae in Maecenatem) and Rome, Biblioteca Corsiniana, cod. Nic. Rossi 174 (43 E 18), with all of the poems and in the same order as in the printed edition.

In the case of Pomponio Leto's work, a large number of manuscripts and incunabula preserve a corpus of annotations, glosses, and scholiaon the poems of the Appendix, some of which Daniel Caietanus printed in an unauthorized edition at Brescia in 1490.

In her close analysis of the two commentaries, that of Leto and that of Calderini, Federica Rossetti concludes that while there is a close relationship between the two texts, Calderini's is not a mere reworking of Leto's, and that even where there is close correspondence, if Calderini had used Leto as a guide, he has reworked the material considerably.

"Le differenze e gli scarti tra gli uni e gli altri rilevano infatti non meno delle affinità che delle coincidenze, e persino nelle glosse calderiniane alle Elegiae in Maecenatem, ove la supposta dipendenza dal Leto assai significativa, almeno una rielaborazione del testo pomponiano da parte del Calderini è innegabile; si aggiunga che le glosse calderiniane sono in genere significativamente più estese."(Federica Rossetti, Il Commento di Domizio Calderini all'Appendix Vergiliana, in Humanistica, VIII. 1. 2013, p. 146-7)

Commenting on the "opuscula":

The commentaries of Leto and Calderini were the only two published (and perhaps written) in the 15thc. Rossetti proposes that this was due to several factors: the difficulty of procuring manuscripts, the obviously corrupt state of the texts, and –due to the style and scarcity of ancient testimonials- the dubious nature of the attribution of the poems to Virgil. Calderini deals with the authorship question in one of his commentaries on the Elegiae in Maecenatem and the Aetna, and Leto seemed also to have struggled with these problems.

Portions of the discussion above were freely translated from Rossetti's article, pages 132-133.

REFERENCES: IGI 2362; GW 5894; BMC VI 761 (considering uncertain the attribution to Magniagus); BSB-Ink C-48; Goff C39; H 4240*; IBP 1370; Bod-inc C-025; Sheppard 4977; Proctor 7272. ISTC ic00039000.