Repertorium Pomponianum

Pomponio Leto's Grammatical Writings

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Pomponio is the author of three grammatical manuals that he appears to have regarded as parts of a single work. The three components are a metrical grammar, and two pieces entitled Romulus and Fabius respectively. The Fabius is known to have been composed one year after the Romulus. It deals with syntax, while the Romulus is concerned with morphology (accidence).
The Fabius is found on its own in a manuscript in the Deutsche Staatsbibliothek in Berlin (shelf-mark Lat. 8o 140, ff. 1–45 verso). It dates from before Pomponio's imprisonment in Castel Sant'Angelo in the summer of 1467. A copy of the verse grammar dates from about the same period. It is now in the Biblioteca Comunale at Terni (Cod. 18, ff. 63–71) and ends with the significant words "Finis libri primi Iulii Pomponij."
By early 1474 all three components were transcribed together in a manuscript now in the Biblioteca Laurenziana (Florence), with the shelf-mark Ashburnham 245.
The very earliest known stage of the work is found in a manuscript in the Biblioteca Marciana (Venice) with the shelf-mark MS Lat. XIV, 109 (=4623), ff. 32–101 verso, dated 14 September 1466, i.e., prior to Pomponio's imprisonment in Castel Sant'Angelo in the summer of 1467. Between the Marciana and Laurenziana copies, chronologically, can be placed a pair of manuscripts in the Vatican Library which contain the Romulus and the Fabius respectively, namely Vat. Lat. 1497 and Vat. Lat. 11532.
After the 1474 version, there comes a version which dates from 1479. It is found in the following Vatican manuscript: Vat. Lat. 2727. It contains an introduction followed by a revised version of the Romulus. The first forty-three leaves of this manuscript are written in Pomponio's hand.
The final stage of the work is the one we find in a printed edition, entitled Grammaticae compendium, which was printed in Venice by Baptista de Tortis on 31 March 1484 (see Hain 9834, Goff L–23). A second edition has been reported in the catalogue of the British Library; it is a Paris imprint, dating from ca. 1505. (*) Since I have not seen the latter edition I cannot say whether it was a reprint of the 1484 edition or was based on a different manuscript.
An early example of nominal paradigms stacked in columns occurs in the Romulus:

[…]      singularis
Hic poeta
Huius poete
Huic poete
Hunc poetam
O poeta
Abhoc poeta
Hi poete
Horum poetarum
His poetis
Hos poetas
O poete
Ab his poetis

This is from the earliest extant manuscript copy of the work, namely Venice, Biblioteca Marciana, MS Lat. XIV. 109 (=4623), dating from before Pomponio Leto's arrest and imprisonment in the Castel Sant'Angelo in the summer of 1467. The quotation occurs on f. 34 recto.
Here is an example of a pronominal paradigm from the same copy of the same work (ff. 61 recto to verso):

Ipse ipsa ipsum
Ipsius ipsius ipsius
Ipsi ipsi ipsi
Ipsum ipsam ipsum
Abipso abipsa abipso
Ipsi ipse ipsa
Ipsorum ipsarum ipsorum
Ipsis ipsis ipsis
Ipsos ipsas ipsa
Abipsis abipsis abipsis

Pomponio's verbal paradigms were sometimes stacked, sometimes not. Here is an example of an unstacked verbal paradigm from the same manuscript (f. 65 recto):
Modo fatendi tempore presenti singulari Amo amas amat plurali /
Amamus amatis amant
Note that the words "singulari" and "plurali" are in red in the manuscript.
Summing up: in the Romulus, the noun and pronoun paradigms are in columns, while the verb paradigms are sometimes in columns, sometimes not. However, even when the verb paradigms are written horizontally the plural forms are started on a new line.

Teaching and Editions

Pomponio lectured on the Roman grammarian Varro's De lingua Latina, a work which had previously been virtually unknown, and a commentary based on those lectures is extant. I have taken notes from Laurenziana, Plut. 47, Cod. 15. Incipit (f. 1r): "Marcus Terentius Varro, Graecis et Latinis litteris longe omnium eruditissimus habitus est." The text is incomplete breaking off on f. 71r with the words: "et in urbe locus ad aedem deum penatium deliquia appellantur in quo appropinquantibus Gallis senononibus ad excidium urbis: sacra quaedam ...." This work is followed by a copy of the Persius commentary by Guarino Veronese.
In his Varro commentary, Pomponio makes an interesting remark about the futility of etymologizing the original radical words (primigenia): "Ex primigeniis quinquaginta milia uocum nascuntur. Vix unas aut alteras causas de primigeniis ostendere possumus. Nemo potest ostendere omnia primigenia qua de causa sint imposita, et si montrauerit ostendet in paucis" (f. 63r). This seems to express a decidedly negative attitude to what one might call the "Cratylean" hypothesis. It is above all an astonishing statement for someone to make who edited Varro's De lingua Latina. That edition begins with a heading that says: "Quemadmodum uocabula essent imposita rebus"! It sounds as if Pomponio was not convinced by Varro's arguments.
Other manuscripts that reflect Pomponio's lectures on Varro are Vat. Lat. 3415; Angelica 1348; Biblioteca Vaticana, Inc. Vat. 1209.
Curiously, Pomponio also edited the Ianua and the Disticha Catonis, two quintessentially medieval works. A printed edition thereof is Gesamtkatalog der Wiegendrucke No. 9029. This came out in Venice, was printed by Iohannes et Gregorius de Gregoriis, and dates from 1500.
Pomponio's edition of Varro's De lingua Latina is Hain-Copinger *15852. I have seen a copy in the Vatican Library, shelf-mark Inc. Prop. II. 72.


Black 2001. On Pomponio's grammatical works, see pp. 137–142; Ruysschaert 1954 and 1961. For further bibliography on Pomponio's study of Varro's De lingua Latina, see Accame 2007, Accame 2008, Accame Lanzillotta 1990, Accame Lanzillotta 1993, Accame Lanzillotta 1998, Accame Lanzillotta 2000.
Keith Percival, University of Kansas
11 January 2010, updated 19 February 2010.
(*) See now French Books III & IV. Books published in France before 1601 in Latin and Languages other than French, edd. Andrew Pettegree & Malcolm Walsby (Leiden & Boston 2012), 1109 no. 77644: "Leto, Giulio Pomponio. Grammaticae compendium. Paris, [Pierre Le Dru]: Denis Roce, 1500. 8o." Also GW M1670210 dates to "um 1500". [Ramminger, 21.6.2017]
This entry can be cited as follows:
Keith Percival, "Pomponio Leto's Grammatical Writings," Repertorium Pomponianum, (URL: grammatical_writings.htm,