Biography of Aldo. El Viejo Manuzio (1449-1515)

Printer and Italian humanist born in (near Velletri) Bassiano in 1449 and died in Venice in 1515. Although his real name was Tebaldo, met le in its time by the abbreviation of Aldo, which later had to add the nickname of "old" to distinguish it from its successor Aldo Manuzio "the young", also humanist and printer, and son of Paolo Manuzio - who had been in charge of the family business in 1533. It was also known as "Bassiano" - in reference to their place of origin - and cited by some scholars as "Manutius". It has become the history of universal as one of the most important printers of the Renaissance, that brought some new features including the elegance of its types of printing, the invention of the italic or italic letter, and the edition of the classics in manageable format (i.e. in what today we would call "Pocket Books", at the time known as "pouch"). In the strictly philological sphere, he/she had the immense merit of edit and spread throughout Europe the classical heritage, with over one hundred and thirty editions different from Greek, Latin and contemporary authors.

Vast humanistic concerns, Aldo Manuzio man studied letters in Rome and, later, in Ferrara, to engage then for some time to teaching - between direct disciples include some humanists such as the philosopher Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and Prince Alberto Pio di Carpi-. He/She moved then to Venice, where, dazzled by the recent invention of the printing press, it fed the project publish books as possible, and try to achieve the highest quality in each of its editions. Then, he/she studied typography and founded - with financial support from the newly mentioned Prince di Carpi - a printing press in the city, whose presses came out, as first Aldine Edition, Greek grammar (1494) humanist Byzantine Constantinus Lascaris, which was the first work of its kind launched by a printing press in Hellenic characters.

The success achieved by its excellent Greek types encouraged him to press ahead with his monumental publishing project, which added a new achievement in 1495, with the publication of a first volume with texts by Aristotle. Already released in full to the work of printing, in the course of the next three years (i.e. between 1496 and 1498, both included), left their machines more than forty titles, including the major works of the poets Hesiodand Theocritus , and the playwright Aristophanes. But his definitive consecration as the most outstanding printer of the moment took place in 1499, with the edition of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (better known as El Sueño de Polifilo) Franscesco Colonna, unanimously considered to be the first work of art of typography.

In the year 1500, Aldo Manuzio married a daughter of Andrea Torresani d'Asola (Andrea Asolani), another famous master printer with that associated with the Bassiano, convinced of the need to expand their workshops to realize his ambitious dream of publishing. Far from work isolated from the rest of his colleagues, he/she surrounded himself with the best printers and proofreaders of its time, is among those who forced highlight some significant names in the vast spread of the classical culture during the Renaissance as the of Scipio Forteguerri, famous Italian scholar (aka Carteromaco) born in Pistoia, who, after devoting several years of his life to the study and teaching of the Greek languageHe attended Venice for correction in the editions of classical Greeks; Alcionio, a Venetian also specialized in correction of Greek texts, and later Professor of this language in Florence; Arsenius Apostolius, expert also works in Greek, both as a copyist and Assistant of the own Manuzio tasks; and, among others, Giorgio Merula, famous for its abundant discoveries of classic Latin codices, and collaborator of Aldo Manuzio in condition of printing press corrector.

In the same year in which he/she married the daughter of Andrea Torresani and thus expanded its business, Aldo Manuzio invented the so-called character aldino, later known as italic or italic, letter presenting the remarkable novelty of much closer the traits of each letter and tilt to the right, with the intention to make better use of the space on each page ("stain" typographic) and get, therefore its desired objective of reducing the size of individuals. Thereafter began circulating in Europe its famous "knockout", books of five so-called for being made in that format, which was a real innovation in the volumes containing treaties classic or brainy works intended for the study of the humanists (until then, the format reduced to books of hours was only intended). This innovation of Manuzio was a veritable revolution not only type, but also cultural, since, from the mass production of "knockout", the legacy of classics - and the great contemporary humanists - remained within reach of a great mass of readers. The printer of Bassiano, aware of this radical break with the cultural tradition- and knowing, moreover, that his books were really intended for reading and consultation, rather than decorate dusty shelves of select and inaccessible libraries-, he/she tried to further cheapen its editions replaced the luxurious materials used in the binding of the medieval codices by covers made from paper or cardboard paste; got, well, a less expensive copies, which facilitated its distribution (although, unfortunately, the worst quality of these materials, with the passage of time, just bindings of that era have been preserved).

Aldo Manuzio innovations marked a turning point in the still emerging history of the printed book, to the end that the subsequent Philology reserved incunabula name - derived from the Latin expression prima typographicae incunabula, coined by Bernard Mallinckorodt, dean of the Cathedral of Münster, in his work De ortu et progressu artis typographicae (1639) - to refer to any printed volume since the invention of the printing press by Gutenberg to the year 1500. He/She referred this to that these early forms were still in the crib or the typographic Arts kindergarten, and, from the creation of the aldinos or italic characters, printing techniques had already reached its maturity stage. Spoke, too, of Aldine Edition to allude to all those copies from the Venetian workshops run by Manutius and his descendants, that figure, "shield of the printer" (i.e., what today would be the company logo) a dolphin twisted to a Looper.

Among the most important works of Manuzio - aside from the already mentioned in previous paragraphs-, remember his edition of the works of Plato and Aristotle, Euripides theatre and trials of Plutarch. He/She was also author of a Latin grammar (1501) and a Greek grammar (1510) - written in collaboration with the great Hellenistic context Masuro, master, among other many disciples of Andrea Navagiero-, as well as the prefecios to its editions of the works of Lucretius, Lucano , and Dante.

In 1505, Aldo Manuzio was arrested by the troops of the Duke of Mantua and reduced to prison, in which spent almost a year. Regained freedom, he/she returned with renewed vigor to work of printing, which were again interrupted in 1510 because of internecine wars which ravaged the Italian peninsula.

In his tireless intellectual work, Aldo Manuzio "old" not complied with print and disseminate the legacy of the classics, they gathered around their workshops to the most selected of the scholarship of the European end of the 15th century and beginning of the next century. He/She founded, in Venice, the Academy of experts on Greek literature or new Academy, better known as Aldine Academy or fame, which included some colleagues mentioned above - as the benemérito Forteguerri Scipio - and other great figures of contemporary European thought, including the writer and Venetian Cardinal Pietro Bembo - responsible for editing and mass of the verses of Petrarca-the physician and English humanist Thomas Linacre - who had come to Italy driven by the need to improve their knowledge of the classical languages-, and the philologist, humanist and Dutch theologian Erasmus of Rotterdam.

The relationship between Aldo Manuzio and Erasmo de Rotterdam was one of the most fruitful of the dawn of the 16th century. In 1507, the Venetian printer addressed an Epistle to the Dutch Humanist - that was then in Turin, as a tutor of the sons of Giovanni Battista Boerio, physician of Henry VII of England-, pleading that you come to Venice to take charge of one of its great publishing projects: the reissue of the translations of the dramas of Euripides. According to Manuzio, the famous Edition of Badius, already exhausted, contained too many flaws, so a thorough review of the translated text was necessary. Already by then, Erasmus was fascinated by the real cultural revolution shown by Manuzio innovative formats, as well as "those wonderful small letters, especially the smaller"; convinced of the virtues of an Edition cheap, readable and easy to use, offered his collaboration to the Venetian printer with the condition that a small volume with its review of translations of Euripides, volume that would be, in addition, the cheapest possible out of their workshops (many economic difficulties that spanned the Dutch Humanist throughout his life used you to always keep in mind the needs of the underprivileged). Manuzio "old" welcomed the conditions imposed by someone who thought as he, and fruit of their conversations, other projects much more ambitious than mere translations of the dramas of Euripides reissue. Erasmo suspended a trip to Rome which had already prepared and went to Venice not only to review these theatrical texts, but with the intention of directing the printing of many other works of antiquity and, above all, prepare a complete edition of his famous Adagia, which constituted one of the own Manuzio favorite readings. The friendship and cooperation between two leading figures of humanism, as well as the careful work done by both and the love he/she professed to books, realizes this splendid passage drawn up by one of the most authoritative biographers of Erasmus:

"When this [Erasmus] went to the printer, immediately after arriving in Venice, he/she had to wait long before being received by the printer. Aldo was correcting tests and believed that it was one of the curious who constantly came to bother it. When learned that it was Erasmus, rushed to greet him with utmost cordiality and assured him food and lodging in the House of his father-in-law, Andrea Asolani. Erasmus lived for more than eight months in an environment that became in their real environment: Workshop presses, with the fever of the quick work, which would complain more than once, but that really admirably harmonized with his spirit. The expanded book of the Adagia had not been drafted definitely in Bologna. «With great recklessness on my part - testifies in own Erasmus - we got, at the same time, I write and Aldo to print». Meanwhile, literary friends of the new Academy, which he/she had met in Venice - Juan Lascaris, Baptista Egnatius, Marcus Musurus and Jeronimo Alejandro young, with whom shared Asolani House in the same room and the same bed-brought him new Greek authors, not yet printed, which could contribute to the enrichment of the Adagia. And were not authors of little importance: Plato in the original, the parallel lives of Plutarch, as well as his Moralia; Pindar, Pausanias, and many more. Even unknown amateurs provided unpublished materials. Amid the noise of printing, Erasmus, seated, writing, to the surprise of his editor, most of the time in memory, and so engrossed that you had no time - according to very expressively - said no to scratching ears. He/She was master of the printing press. A particular spell was put at their disposal; even in the last race he/she made corrections in the text. Aldo also reviewed the evidence. «Why?», asked Erasmus. «Because thus instructed me», said Aldo [...]. When, in September 1508, are finished printing the Adagia, Aldo wanted to retain Erasmus to undertake new work for it. Erasmus continued to work there until December in the editions of Plato, Terence and the tragedies of Seneca. In his spirit arose grandiose visions of work in common for the edition of everything that classical antiquity hiding yet as an unknown treasure trove, including also the Hebrew and Chaldean texts"(John Huizinga: Erasmo [Barcelona: Salvat Editores, 1987], vol. I, pp. 127-130).