(Venice: Aldus Manutius, 1505). 170 x 105 mm. (6 3/4 x 4 1/4"). [242] leaves. FIRST EDITION.

Old vellum over paste boards, ink titling on flat spine. With Aldine anchor device on title and last page. Renouard, p. 46; Ahmanson-Murphy 75. First three and final two gatherings with dampstain along inner margin (not affecting text), trivial soiling to vellum, a few insignificant smudges and rust spots, otherwise a very fresh, clean copy with ample margins, and in a bright and solid binding.

This is an especially crisp copy of the first printing of Pontano's poetic works, handsomely set in Aldine italic type. Rivaled only by Poliziano as a Latinist, Pontano (1426-1503) is often called the most elegant and fertile writer of the 15th century. A greatly trusted and respected figure in his time, he had a distinguished career--apart from his literary achievements--in the service of the Aragonese rulers of Naples as a soldier, historian, mediator, royal secretary, and head of the academy formed by Alfonso. But it is his philosophical works and his poetry for which Pontano is justly famous. His collected philosophical works were first published in 1501 by Vercellensis, and are notable for their elegant and natural style and for their freedom from bias. Our volume contains the first collection of his poetry, which has a wide range, from "Urania" (hexameters on astrology) to "Lepidina" (a mythological account of the marriage of the god Sebeto to the nymph Parthenope) to personal lyrics and elegies. In addition to those works, our volume contains "Meteorum," "De Hortis hesperidum," "Meliseus," "Mæon," "Acon," "Hendecasyllaborum," "Tumulorum," "Neniæ," and "Epigrammata." Pontano writes as if Latin were his native language and graceful, harmonious verse his natural means of expression. His most attractive poems are often those expressing the intimate joys and sorrows of family life, perhaps because of his own devotion to his wife and children. Pontano had first sent some of his poems to Aldus in 1502. The publisher was enthusiastic, but decided to wait for additional works hinted at by the poet before going to press. Unfortunately, a manuscript dispatched by Pontano went missing for a year when the messenger to whom it was entrusted took ill and died in Padua in the summer of 1503. Pontano himself died in September of that year, and the poems languished unpublished for two years, until Pontano's fellow Neapolitan humanist Pietro Summonte sent additional pastorals to Aldus for inclusion in the collection. Aldus reprinted the work in 1513 and 1533; both of these editions are more common in the markeplace than the present one.

Keywords: Early Printing