Aldus Manutius's Warning against the Printers of Lyon, Venice (1503)

Source: Scanned from the manuscript held in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris: BN, Ms. Gr. 3064, c. 85.

Aldus Manutius's Warning against the Printers of Lyon, Venice (1503), Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer,

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Warning of Aldus against Lyonese typographers (16.III 1503)

Aldus Manutius Romanus to his readers

      From the very beginning since I began to supply in abundance good books to learned men, I believed that it would be
the sole purpose of my efforts, that only the best Latin and Greek books in the most correct editions would come out of
our New Academy, so that everyone would be inspired towards good literature and supreme arts by our efforts and work. In
reality, however, events went far differently: “What an undertaking was it to establish the Roman language!” For in addition
to the wars, which due to a certain misfortune started at the same time as I undertook this difficult task, and which
continue to this day, to such an extent that literature seems for seven years to have been bravely vying, as it were, with
weapons, even now four workers and salaried persons in our house had been conspiring against me owing to the mother of all
misfortunes, Avarice; whom thanks to God I had managed to defeat, so that all of them now have paid dearly for their
      It happens that in the city of Lyon our books appeared both full of errors and under my name, where they deceived
unwary buyers both with similarity of the letters and the format of the volume, so that they were tricked to believe that
the books have been printed under our care in Venice. Wherefore lest this matter be a loss for scholars: to me indeed a loss
and a shameful one too: I wished by this letter of mine to warn everyone lest they be deceived.
      Now from Lyon (as far as I know) editions have been printed with lettering very similar to our own, including Virgil,
Horace, Juvenal with Persius, Martial, Lucan, Catullus with Tibullus and Propertius, and Terence. But on all of these you
will find neither the name of the printer, nor the place where the editions were pressed, nor the date when they were
completed. In all of our editions, on the other hand, you will read the following: “In Venice, in the house of Aldus of
Rome, on this or that day.” Likewise, no insignia will be seen on those counterfeits; on ours there is a dolphin and volute
anchors, as it is possible to see inside the cover. Moreover the paper in the counterfeits is of inferior quality and emits
a kind of heavy odour; the lettering, upon closer inspection, displays (as I would phrase it) a certain ‘Frenchiness’; in
the same way upper case letters are misshapen. Add to this the fact that consonants are not connected to vowels, but have
been separated. It is worth one’s while to see that in our editions all letters are fully connected to each other, and that
it is the style of handwriting where deceivers reside.
      Furthermore, with these sorts of errors which will be plain, it will be easy to recognize that these are not my
editions. For in the Virgil from Lyon in the margin of one of our notes, just before Tityrus speaks in the Bucolics, it has
been wrongly printed as “optimos quosque autores” instead of “optimus quosque”; and at the end of the books of the Aeneid,
on the first half page of our Preface to the Studious it has been incorrectly printed in the last verse, “maria omnie cirtm”
instead of “maria omnia circum”, where not even any accents are preserved. For this reason I have composed this letter in
order to show by what method one should use accent marks in our books.
      In Horace, in my letter here, in the second verse it was printed thus: “Imprissis Vergilianis operibus” instead of
“impressis”; and in the third: “Flaccum aggrssi” instead of “aggressi”. Furthermore, the capital letters at the beginning
of the first Ode in the first and second verse are made black printers ink at the top; and at the bottom, it is as if they
have been underscored by a line crudely drawn.
      In Juvenal, in my letter here, in the third verse there is “pubilcamus” instead of “publicamus”; and in the tenth verse
“Ungues quae suos” instead of “unguesque suos”. Likewise on the first half-page: “Semper et assiduo ruptae rectore” instead
of “lectore”. On the same page: “Si vacat et placidi rationem admittitis, eadem” instead of “edam”. And a little later:
“Cum tenet uxorem” instead of “tener”. Similarly there will be found: “Eigat aprum” instead of “figat”.
      In Martial, immediately at the beginning on the first half-page there is printed in block caps: “AMPHITEATRUM” and not
“AMPHITHEATRUM”. And on the same page: “Quae tam se posita” instead of “seposita”. Likewise in the second book to Severus
there is missing the Greek word “έσχατοκωλικόν”. And in Against Candidus more Greek is missing, namely “χοινά φίλων πάντα”.;
and at the end, “κοινά φίλων”.
      In Lucan there is no preface at the beginning; but in mine there is one, unmistakably. In the margin of Catullus they
have omitted that preface which is in my edition. These traits are what can be distinguishing marks of the Lyonese edition,
whereas in the Venetian editions they would have been printed under my care.
      Although I have not undertaken to print Terence, an edition has nonetheless been printed with the rest of these in Lyon
without anyone’s name. It has been made in such a way that buyers, thinking that it is my edition by the smallness of the
book and the similarity of the print, may be deceived. Indeed they know that a book which we take every care to restore to
perfect amendments, even to the point of preserving the metre, such a book is something met with the height of anticipation;
wherefore they hasten to publish their own version, hoping to go sell it before mine has been released. But their edition
will go forth in an altered state, or it is possible for one to be recognised, because immediately at the beginning there
has been printed thus: “EPITAPHIUM TEREMTII” instead of “Terentii; and: “Bellica praedia fui” and not “praeda”; and “Haec
quunque leget” instead of “quicunque”. Furthermore, at the beginning of the second page: “Acta ludis Megalensibus M. Fulvio
aedilibus et M. Glabrione Q. Minutio Valerio curulibus” instead of “M. Glabrione, Q. Minutio Valerio aedilibus curulibus”.
There is also the fact that they, thinking it to be the plot summary, printed: “ARGUMENTUM ANDRIAE”. Before the play the
Sister it is falsely written: “TERENTII ARGUMENTUM”, even though all plot summaries of comedies by Terence were not composed
by Terence but by Sulpitius Apollinaris; and so, perforce, it is written in the oldest codices: “C. Sulpicii Apollinaris
      Even the metre has been confused. The lines of the first scene, which consists entirely of trimeters, in this way, as
though chaos had invaded its constituent parts, must be restored after having been separated out, alternately and one after
the other, into their own place:

“Si. Vos istaec intro auferte; abite. Sosia,
      Ades dum, paucis te volo. So. Dictum puta.
      Nempe, ut curentru recte haec. Si. Immo aliud. So. Quid est,
      Quod tibi mea ars efficere hoc posit amplius? Etc.”

Likewise in the second scene, the first three lines of which are in trimeters,
the fourth a tetrameter, the fifth a dimeter and the rest all in quadripartite
structure, ought to be thus:

Si. Non dubium est, quin uxorem nolit filius.
      Ita Davum modo timere sensi, ubi nuptias
      Futures esse audivit; sed ipse exit foras.
Da. Mirabar hoc si sic abiret, et heri simper lenitas
      Verebar quorsum evaderet.
      Qui posquam audivit non datum iri filio uxorem suo,
      Nunquam cuiquam nostrum verbum fecit, neque id aegre tulit.
Si. At nunc faciet, neque, ut opinor, sine tuo mango malo.
Da. Id voluit, nos sic opinantes duci falso gaudio,
      Sperantes iam amoto metu, interea osctantes obprimi,
      Ne esset spatium cogitandi ad disturbandas nuptias.
      Astute. Si. Carnifex quae loquitur? Da. Herus est, nequ provideram, etc.

In a matter such as this, whatever the extent my labour may be, let them who
understand draw their own conclusions. At the very least, we work most of the
day and night.

That this letter should be published we have judged fit, in order that anyone,
who is about to purchase small books which have been examined according to the
form of this decoder, shall not be deceived but have the means to tell the
difference whether these books might have been printed in our premises in Venice,
or in Lyon.


Venice, 16 March 1503.


Aldi Monitum in Lugdunenses Typographos (16. III 1503)

Aldus Manutius Romanus lectori s.

      Cum primum coepi suppeditare studiosis bonos libros: id solum negocii fore mihi existimabam: ut optimi quique libri
et Latini et Graeci exirent ex Neacademia nostra quam emendatissimi: omnesque ad bonas literas: bonasque artes cura et ope
nostra excitarentur: Verum longe aliter evenit. Tantae molis erat Romanam condere linguam. Nam praeter bella: quae
nescio quo infortunio eodem tempore coeperunt: quo ego hanc duram accepi prouinciam: atque in hunc usque diem perseverant:
ita ut literae iam septennium cum armis quodammodo strenue pugnare videantur: quarter iam in aedibus nostris ab operariis:
et stipendiariis in me conspiratum est: duce malorum omnium matre Auaritia: quos Deo adiuuante sic fregi: ut ualde omnes
poeniteat suae perfidiae. Restabat: ut in Urbe Lugduno libros nostros et mendose excuderent: et sub meo nominee
publicarent: in quibus nec artificis nomen: nec locum, ubi nam impressi fuerint, esse uoluerunt: quo incautos emptores
fallerent: ut et characterum similitudine: et enchiridii forma decepti: nostra cura Venetiis excusos putarent. Quamobrem,
ne ea res studiosis damno: mihi uero et damno: et dedecori foret: uolui hac mea epistola omnes: ne decipiantur, admonere:
infrascriptis uidelicet signis. Sunt iam impressi Lugduni (quod scierim) characteribus simillimis nostris: Vergilius,
Horatius, Iuuentalis cum Persio, Martialis, Lucanus, Catullus cum Tibullo; et Propertio, Terentius. In quibus omnibus nec
est impressoris nomen: nec locus: in quo impressi: nec tempus, quo absolute fuerint. In nostris uero omnibus sic est:
Venetiis in aedibus Aldi Romani illo: uel illo tempore. Item nulla in illis uisuntur insignia. In nostris est Delphinus
anchorae inuolutus: ut infra licet uidere. Praeterea deterior in illis charta: et nescio quid graue olens. Characteres uero
diligentius intuenti sapient: (ut sic dixerim) gallicitatem quondam. Grandiusculae item sunt perquam deformes. Adde quod
uocalibus consonantes non connectuntur: sed separatae sunt. In nostris plerasque omnes inuicem connexas: manum quo
mentientes: operae pretium est uidere. Ad haec hisce: quae inibi uisuntur: incorrectionibus: non esse meos, facile est
cognoscere. Nam in Vergilio Lugduni impresso in fine Epistolii nostrii ante Bucolicorum Tityrum, perperam impressum est:
optimos quosque autores: pro optimos quosque. Et in fine librorum Aeneidos: in prima Epistolae nostrae semipagina ad
Studiosos extremo uersu male impressum est: maria omnie cirtm: pro maria omnia circum, ubi etiam nulli accentus obseruantur:
cum ego eam epistolam propterea composuerim, ut ostenderem quo nam modo apud nostros utendum sit accentiunculis. In
Horatio: in mea Epistola, secundo uersu sic est excusum: Imprissis Vergilianis operibus: pro impressis. Et tertio sic:
Flaccum aggrssi: pro aggressi. Grandiusculae praeterea literae ante primam Oden primo: et secundo uersu sunt impressorio
atramento supra: et infra: quasi linea conclusae perturpiter. In Iuuenale, in mea Epistola: tertio uersu est pubilcamus: pro
publicamus. Et decimo uersu: Ungues quae suos: pro unguesque suos. Item in prima semipagina: Semper et assiduo ruptae
rectore: pro lectore. In eadem, Si uacat: et placidi rationem admittitis: eadem: pro edam. Et paulo post. Cum tenet uxorem:
pro tener. Item inibi: Eigat aprum: pro figat. In Martiale statim in principio primae semipaginae est impressum literis
grandiusculis sic AMPHITEATRVM: pro AMPHITHEATRUM. Et in eadem, Quae tam se posita: pro seposita. Item in Libro
secundo ad Seuerum deest graecum “έσχατοκωλικόν”. Et in Candidum: ubique deest graecum: id est “χοινά φίλων πάντα”.
Et in fine: “κοινά φίλων”. In Lucano nulla est epistola in principio: at in meo maxime. In fine Catulli eam: quae in meo
est: epistolam praetermiserunt. Quae etiam possunt esse signa Lugdunine: an Venetiis mea cura impressi fuerint. Terentium
etsi ego nondum curaui imprimendum: tamen Lugduni una cum caeteris sine cuiusquam nominee impressus est: Quod ideo
factum est: ut emptores meum esse: et libri paruitate: et characterum similitudine: existimantes: deciperentur. Sciunt enim
quem nos in pristinam correctionem: seruatis etiam metris: restituendum curamus: in summa esse expectatione: et propterea
suum edere accelerarunt: sperantes ante eum uenundatum iri: quam emittatur meus. Sed qua ille emendatus exierit: uel hinc
cognosci potest: quod statim in principio sic est impressum: EPITAPHIUM TER[EM]TI[I] pro Terentii. Item: Bellica praedia
fui: pro praeda: Et: Haec quunque leget: pro quicunque. Praetera in principio second[ae] chartae. Acta ludis Megalensibus M.
Fulvio aedilibus, et, M. Glabrione, Q. Minutio Valerio curulibus: pro M. Glabrione, Q. Minutio Valerio aedilibus curulibus.
Quod etiam putantes esse argumentum: impresserunt: ARGVMENTUM ANDRIAE. Ante etiam Sororem falso est. TERENTII
ARGVMENTUM, cum argumenta omnia Comoediarum Terentii: non Terentius: sed Sulpitius Apollinaris composuerit. Sic
enim in vetustissimis habetur codicibus. C. Sulpitii Apollinaris periocha. Metra etiam confusa sunt omnia. Versus enim
primae scenae: quae tota trimetris constat: sic tanquam chaos in elementa: separati ab inuicem in suum locum sunt restituendi.

Si. Vos istaec intro auferte; abite. Sosia
      Ades dum: paucis te uolo. So. Dictum puta.
      Nempe: ut curentru recte haec. Si. Immo aliud. So. quid est:
      Quod tibi mea ars efficere hoc possit amplius? Etc.

Item secunda scena: cuius tres primi uersus sunt trimetric. Quartus tetra-
meter. Quintus dimeter: et caeteri omnes quadrati: sic esse debet.

Si. Non dubium est: quin uxorem nolit filius.
      Ita Dauum modo timere sensi: ubi nuptias
      Futuras esse audiuit. sed ipse exit foras.
Da. Mirabar hoc si sic abiret: et heri semper lenitas
      Verebar quorsum euaderet.
      Qui postquam audiuit non datumiri filio uxorem suo:
      Nunquam cuiquam nostrum uerbum fecit: neque id aegre tulit.
Si. At nunc faciet: neque (ut opinor) sine tuo mango malo.
Da. Id uoluit: nos sic opinantes duci falso gaudio:
      Sperantes iam amoto metu: interea oscitantes obprimi:
      Ne esset spatium cogitandi ad disturbandas nuptias.
      Astute. Si. Carnifex quae loquit[ur] D[a]. Herus est: nequ prouideram etc.

Qua in re quantus sit mihi labor: cog[iten]t: qui intellegunt. Certe pluri-
mum die: noctuque elaboramus.

Haec publicanda iussimus: ut qui libellos enchiridii forma excusos emptu-
rus est: ne decipiatur: facile. n. cognoscet: Venetiis ne in aedibus nostris
impressi fuerint: an Lugduni. Vale. Venetiis. XVI. Martii M.D.III.


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