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 as an editor; he also played a pivotal role in many Aldine editions 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 published by Aldus. The copy here shows authorial variants, 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 (CUL MS Dd.15.13 and King’s College 34, also both in this online exhibition). In addition, they were all included by Bembo in the second revised edition of his text published in 1530. Leaf D2 verso shows Bembo’s additions of “Plinius et Strabo / meminere” in the margin of lines 5 and 6 in substitution of “meminit Strabo”, crossed away, and of “illorum” for “illius” on line 7, both additions matching textual variants introduced in the 1530 edition.

The book was printed with new tondo founts commissioned by Aldus specifically for this edition from the Bolognese punch-cutter Francesco Griffo (d. 1518). These founts (Aldus’s fourth tondo) inspired the famous Bembo founts designed in 1928 by the distinguished English typographer Stanley Morison (1889–1967). The Library copy has a direct connection with Morison, having been purchased by him in April 1940 and donated a few years later to the Monotype Corporation. The Corporation gave it to the Library in 1967.

Inc.4.B.3.134[4580], fol. D2 verso