The Last Book Printed by Aldus Manutius

Lucretius Carus, Titus (94 – ca. 55 B.C.)

De rerum natura

Venice: Aldus Manutius and Andrea Torresani di Asolo, 1515


Octavo: 15.5 x 9.5 cm. *8, a-q8 (blank leaves *8 and q7 both present)


Bound in 19th c. calf, minor wear. A nice copy, lightly washed, occ. light soiling. Complete with both blanks and the final leaf with the Aldine device.

“The Lucretius of January 1515 was the last book printed by Aldus, shortly before his death on 6 February. The text had been revised and edited by Andrea Navagero (1483–1529), the editor of all the last Latin editions published by Aldus from the Cicero of 1514 onwards. Unlike Aldus’s first Lucretius of 1500, this book was a classical enchiridion, in the octavo format with text in Italic types, with no accompanying commentary or printed decoration.

“Like Aldus’s first Lucretius, though, the edition was once again dedicated to Alberto Pio, Prince of Carpi, as if, at the end of his life, he wanted to close the cycle of his dedicatory letters addressing his last printed words and thoughts to his former pupil and constant supporter. Far from been sentimental, though, he was as always preoccupied with the correctness and accuracy of the text for the benefit of his learned readers, and apologized for having been prevented by illness from adding his own notes on Lucretius to Navagero’s edition. Ever the clever businessman, however, he added the justification ‘it was necessary to make sure that the work did not exceed the proper limits and that the bulk of the volume would not become cumbersome’.

“Lucretius was the first of the Latin classics to be printed by Aldus, a strange choice if one considers the controversial nature of the text often in contrast with Christian beliefs–as the publisher himself points out in his dedicatory letter–but a natural choice given the philosophical nature of the text, in line with Aldus’s interests in scientific and philosophical texts from the Antiquity. Aldus’s admission that the text has also been chosen in view of the classical elegance of the verse introduces a new element of interest in the text.”(Cambridge University Library)

Renouard 74:11; Ahmanson-Murphy 130; Adams L1651