Dante (1265–1321) Commedia device

August 1502

The 1502 Dante was printed in two issues: Aldus marked the second with his newly designed dolphin-and-anchor device on the verso of the last page. Aldus associated this device with the motto Festina lente (Hasten slowly). According to Erasmus (Adagia II.1), he took inspiration for the device’s design from a Roman coin minted at the time of the Emperor Titus (r. 79–81 AD), given to him by Pietro Bembo. In the course of his activity Aldus had it cut in six different versions, many of which with a number of different states.

The device had made its first appearance in the second volume in the series of the Poetae Christiani veteres, dated June 1502, surrounded by a rectangular frame. The version used in the second issue of the Dante, printed in August 1502 or shortly after, is a second state of this first version, with the border reduced to a series of dots.
After the death of Aldus in 1515, the device continued to be used and re-designed (27 times more at least) by his heirs until 1594, almost to the end of the printing activity of Aldus’s grandson, Aldus the Younger (1547–97).

Young.253, fol. H4 verso

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