Pietro Bembo (1470–1547) De Aetna

February 1495/1496

Aldus was in close contact with the learned Venetian patrician and diplomat Bernardo Bembo (1433–1519) and his son Pietro. A well-known humanist, Pietro collaborated with Aldus and played a pivotal role in the edition of a number of classical and humanistic Greek, Latin and vernacular texts by providing ancient or authoritative manuscript exemplars. Pietro’s first Latin work, De Aetna, was also the first Latin literary text printed by Aldus. The text was a fictitious dialogue between the author and his father relating to Pietro’s trip to Mount Etna in Sicily during an eruption, while he was studying Greek with Konstantinus Lascaris in Messina.

The copy here shows authorial corrections and additions to the text: their hand matches Pietro’s in two fifteenth-century manuscripts of Horace’s Carmina originally in his father’s library and now in Cambridge libraries (MS CUL Dd.15.13 and MS King’s College 34, both also in this exhibition). In addition they were all included by Bembo in the second revised edition of his text published in 1530.

Leaf C7 recto shows the insertion of the word “pater” [i.e. Bernardo] above line 15; a line in the space between lines 14 and 15 signals the insertion of a two-line addition to the text supplied in manuscript in the lower margin (now very faint): “neq[ue] enim puto huius ignarum rei tamq[uam] dormientem / spectatorem sic te ex eo spectaculo redijsse” [i.e. “because I didn’t imagine you returned from the spectacle like a dozing spectator, with no knowledge of it”]. The addition matches an authorial amendment that can be found on leaf B5 recto of the 1530 edition.

Inc.4.B.3.134[4580], fol. C7 recto