1502 Terze Rime, Dante Alighieri, 1st Aldine Ed.

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Le terze rime di Dante (Lo Inferno E'L Purgatorio E'L Paradiso). Venezia. Aldo Manuzio, (Aldus Manutius) August 1502. Aldine Edition Divine Comedy (Divina Commedia)


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Full title: [Le terze rime (Lo Inferno E'L Purgatorio E'L Paradiso di Dante Alaghieri)] 

Written by: Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)

Edition: Pietro Bembo

Published by Venice in Aedib. Aldi. Accuratissime men. Aug MDII. (Venezia. Aldo Manuzio, 1502) 

Language: Italian


An imperfect copy, however, one that remains an important example in print history. Missing a1-a8, C1 and H1-H4. Lacking the last leaf, which might have contained the famous Aldine dolphin and anchor device along with colophon. This edition was issued in two known states: with and without the Aldine device on the last page.


This edition of the Divine Comedy represents the first Aldus/Bembo edition, the first edition printed in octavo format, the first issued with the title, Le terze rime, and also the first issued in italic-type. Aldous introduced italic type the previous year with the publication of his 1501 Virgil. “Aldus was an innovator in typeface design, and his italic type was based on the handwriting of two highly accomplished Italian scribes”(Mulderon 2012, ZSR Library). Aldus Manutius’ revolutionary contributions made him one of the most influential scholars and printers of the Italian renaissance. ­­­­­He identified a need for books more portable, usable, and affordable than folios and began printing important works in the octavo format. To fit Dante’s work into the octavo format, Aldus commissioned his friend Pietro Bembo to produce a version of the Divine Comedy truer to its original form, and without the copious commentary that enveloped Dante’s text through the previous centuries. Although claiming that Bembo’s version was derived from a manuscript in Dante’s own hand, it was rather a manuscript found in the collection of Bembo's father, Bernado--a manuscript which was given by Boccaccio to Petrarch. Bembo worked to make Dante’s Italian more understandable for contemporary readers and included punctuation to an extent that was all but absent in previous versions. This version of Dante’s Commedia became the standard well into the 19th century (Mulderon 2012, ZSR Library).


Bound in 18th century speckled brown calf leather boards, with rubricated edges (red edges). Spine with decorative gold-gilding and five raised bands. Gold-stamped red-morocco spine label with the name of “Dante”  (somewhat rubbed). Spine with wear, central creasing, and a few wormholes.


CONDITION: Good condition with missing pages (Lacking a1-a8, C1 and H1-H4). Leaves b1-b8 supplied from a shorter copy with bottom margin cropped (this is not unusual, as the inclusion of shorter quires has been noted in other copies of this edition). Spotting, foxing, paper creasing, (usually at top outer page corner), some damp stains, other minor staining, including ink spots, with scarce marginal notes throughout.  Leaf l2 blank with handwritten title for Purgatorio. Leaves p6-p8 inserted after s8. Visible remnants of where p6-p8 were originally (after p5) and repair at inner margin of p6 (misbound after s8). Some lacks and tears, including corner loss at c3 and e3, as well a small tear at bottom margin of e3, not affecting text. Several tape repairs throughout, including at the bottom margin of g1, h6, and outer margin of E1, E2, and E3; at inner margin of m8 verso, s1verso and s8; and at outer margin of p2. Leaves m8 and n3-n4 with browning around the text, perhaps from damp stain. Leaves n8 and o1 with the same issue at inner margin. Small ink stain on verso of q2 and q3. Paper loss at top outer edge of r8, not affecting text. Darkening of x7-y1, as well as darkening and discoloration of last leaves (from F1-G8). Previous ownership notes on front and back pastedowns, with small wormholes at backboard. Boards cracking at gutters, but text block and boards still firmly held. Cracked at m8 with page loose at bottom margin, crack at o1 with dark stain at bottom of the page, text block still strong. Spill stain at x6 verso and x7. Small holes on spine with spine leather creased, with fading of gold gilt of title of “AN” in Dante. Corner rubbing of covers and slight wear at foot of spine. More photographs are available upon request.


8vo., 15.5 cm x 9.5 cm


pp. 231 (instead of 244)

Signatures as printed: a-z⁸, A-G⁸, H⁴ (l2, x3v blank); this copy lacking a1-a8, C1 and H1-H4; p6-p8 inserted after s8.