Elegant first page of text in the Aldine Theocritus, from a copy in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek.

Elegant first page of text in the Aldine Theocritus, from a copy in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek.

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A: Venezia, Veneto, Italy

"Something is Better than Nothing." Aldus Writes About Scholarly Compromises in Running a Publishing House

2/1495 to 1496
<p>Aldus's preface to his edition of Theocritus, in which he recognizes that his desire to publish texts of so many of the classics resulted in scholarly compromises. From the copy in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek.</p>

Aldus's preface to his edition of Theocritus, in which he recognizes that his desire to publish texts of so many of the classics resulted in scholarly compromises. From the copy in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek.

Between February 1495 and 1496 Aldus Manutius issued the Idyllia of Theocritus in Greek along with other works in Greek and Latin, including the writings of Hesiod. (ISTC no. it00144000).

"We must not ask of Aldine editions what they cannot give, a balanced critical recension which even in our own day has hardly been achieved for many Greek authors. The aims of textual purity and correctness were often trumpeted in early editions, long before Aldus, indeed, but with special emphasis in his prefaces. But these aims, no doubt genuinely held, all too frequently succumbed to the messy pressures of the printing house, as the number of errata pages attached to his editions attest. Something is better than nothing, Aldus says in the preface to Theocritus in 1496, and a text once printed can at least find many correctors where a manuscript can only receive occasional emendation. This of course is true in the long run, but sidesteps the whole problem of corrupt texts being fixed in hundreds of copies by the printing press" (Davies, Aldus Manutius, Printer and Publisher of Renaissance Venice [1999] 23).

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