Pomponio Leto to Gaspare Biondo
Letter accompanying the editio princeps of Nonius Marcellus.
Date: ca. 1470 or ca. 1474-76 (see ISTC).
Imprint: Nonius Marcellus, De proprietate latini sermonis (Rome: Georgius Lauer, [ca. 1470 or 1474-76]), fol. 1v. HC 11899, ISTC in00263000. I used the copy BAV Inc.III.253 (persistent URL: digi.vatlib.it/view/Inc.III.253/ 0006)
Ed.: Botfield 1861, 109-110.
Pomponius Gaspari Blondo salutem.
Rogauit me Georgius Laur1 de Herbipoli, fidelissimus librorum impressor, ut Nonii Marcelli opus percurrerem atque si fieri posset corrigerem. Ego ob amorem obseruantiamque et fidem, quam erga me habet, laborem subire non recusaui. Impulit etiam me utilitas lectionis antiquitatum, que ut spero profutura est. Vtinam in manibus esset copia illa librorum, unde uir ille peritissimus diligentissime collectanea fecit; que cum desideretur, laboris prope infiniti est librariorum errores sigillatim emendare. Tamen auxiliante Volsco2 et nostris etiam amicis opem ferentibus, multa in eo deprauata correximus; non ut quibusdam mos est noua fecimus, sed exemplaria ipsa contulimus. Quare si lector quod adhuc lima indigeat inuenerit, parcat et minime uigilias nostras damnet. Non me fugit quam sit difficile aliorum ingenia intelligere. Testis tu mihi es locupletissimus, quoniam et Blondi patris tui doctissimi hominis exquisitissimos libros recognouisti.3 Tanta est exscriptorum negligentia. Igitur rerum memorabilium opus, quod Nonius filio suo destinauerat hereditatis gratissimum pignus, Georgio nostro id frequenter exigenti imprimendum tradimus. Illud silentio minime pretereundum putaui, Nonium Marcellum in ipso itinere occubuisse. Inuidit forte, ut arbitror, fortuna posteritati tam bonum et utile munus. Vale.
George Lauer of Würzburg, who is a most conscientious printer, asked me to go through the work of Nonius Marcellus and correct it if possible. Because of the esteem, regard, and loyality he shows me I did not refuse to undertake this task. A further impulse was the usefulness of the lecture of antiquities, which I hope will be valuable. If we only had in our hands that supply of books, from which that man so expertly and skillfully made his collections! Since it is not available, it is a nearly endless effort to correct the scribal errors one by one. Still, with the help of Volsco and the support of our friends we have corrected many corrupt passages; we have not - as is the habit of some - made a new text, but have collated the earlier copies themselves. If the reader therefore finds something which still needs to be polished, may he forgive us and not curse our efforts! I am well aware how difficult it is to understand somebody else's thoughts. To this you can bear witness amply, since you, too, have revised your learned father Biondo's exquisite books. The carelessness of copyists is enormous. Now we turn the Book about noteworthy things which Nonius had destined for his son as a very generous inheritance over to George, so that he can print it as he has often demanded. I would not like to pass over in silence that Nonius Marcellus died while travelling. Probably fortune begrudged posterity such an excellent and useful gift.
1 For the life of Lauer see Paolo Veneziani, RP. 2 Antonio Volsco from Priverno was professor of rhetoric at the Studium in the 1480s (Pincelli 2000, XXXIIff), published in 1482 an edition of Propertius, and in 1481 a commentary to Ovid's Heroides. In 1483 Pomponio made a notarial deed in Volsco's house (Zabughin 1909-12, II 417). He is one of the interlocutors in Paolo Pompilio's dialogue De vero et probabili amore (1476), which is dedicated to Pomponio (Perosa 1973, 16). 3 Gaspare Biondo prepared two of his father's works for print, Roma Instaurata (Rome before 22.6.1471) and Italia Illustrata (Rome 1474). If we understand libros recognouisti as "you prepared your father's works for print" [i.e. several works, not several 'books' of one work], this might be an argument in favour of the later printing date of the Nonius, since before 1474 Gaspare had only prepared one work for print. For Gaspare Biondo see Fanelli 1968.
Martini Philetici In corruptores latinitatis, a cura di Maria Agata Pincelli (Roma 2000).
This entry can be cited as follows:
Pomponio Leto, Letter to Gaspare Biondo, ed. Johann Ramminger, Repertorium Pomponianum, URL: www.repertoriumpomponianum.it/textus/leto_gasp_biondo.htm,