3.15 Collecting Himself

Sometime in the fourteen nineties, Mancinelli or his North Italian printers seem to have conceived the notion of issuing all his short textbooks in a collected set. Mancinelli himself had made lists of his works as they multiplied, which appeared in print in 1490, 1492, 1493, and again in 1499, but the context of these early lists was mere advertising. The 1492 list of twenty four works, for example, appeared in a Venice edition of Regulae constructionis with Summa and Thesaurus. It may have been a sort of calling card for Mancinelli, newly arrived in Venice, or it may have been intended to announce a plan by the printer, Giovanni Roscio, to start a series. It is a confusing list, however, since it incorrectly describes the Spica as a work on supines and it includes the mysterious Centiloquium, of which no copy survives. At best it is a garbled version of a list Mancinelli might have supplied in manuscript. (76)

A larger, later project is similarly fuzzy in the earliest documents, which date from the beginning of 1498. Giovanni Tacuino had been issuing textbooks by Mancinelli for some years. On January 21, 1498 he published an edition of the Regulae constructionis with Summa and Thesaurus that contained a note listing twenty seven distinct works of Mancinelli, in no particular order. (77) This list, like that of 1492, included not only grammatical textbooks and reading anthologies, but also the commentaries on Virgil, Horace and Juvenal, and the Centiloquium. It also included the never-published Lima on Giovanni Tortelli and another (but different) mistaken description of Mancinelli's Spica. This disordered list cannot be Mancinelli's making. Most likely Tacuino cobbled it together from earlier lists or from the title pages of earlier publications in his stock that he intended to use as copy texts for new issues. This would explain why the commentary on Tortelli shows up, since it was listed on the title page of the Pincio edition of Tortelli even though it was never issued. (78)

Soon after the list above, the project becomes a little clearer. On February 9, 1498, Tacuino reissued the Valla/Ad Herennium tracts. Some copies of this little volume bear a title page announcing an Opera omnia. (79) This title page implies that Tacuino now saw himself as publishing a complete set. Perhaps he saw the project as a way of keeping his presses busy in otherwise slow periods. If he still had earlier editions of some works in stock, he would have had no incentive to reprint them in a new format, but the new title page might create a demand for the older booklets. Both the older and new issues were in standard chancery quarto format and could be bound together as any given customer desired. In the event, Tacuino does not seem to have gone far or fast with the series. He reissued only four works in the next two years. On January 9, 1500 Tacuino received a privilege from the Venetian authorities that included "all of Mancinelli's works together with a new commentary on Valerius Maximus." But neither project resulted. Across two years, Tacuino had created a substantial little series, but it never approached a real Opera omnia. He only picked up the project again after Mancinelli's death. (80)

Meanwhile, other printers also started collecting works of Mancinelli, probably spurred on by the announcement of Tacuino's project. Beyond the Alps, the Lyon printer Jean de Vingle carefully selected a few works to represent a complete curriculum from Donatus to the Rhetorica ad Herennium. (81) In Milan, the publisher Giovanni da Legnano began a grandly titled Opera omnia, starting with a Valla/Ad Herennium volume, just like Tacuino's issue of 1498. In fact the Milanese book is a close reprint of Tacuino's. The Milan book is undated but likely to have been printed in 1499 or 1500. (82 ) Da Legnano employed several printers; for this first volume he chose Pietro Martire Mantegazza. Part of the same project were several other small volumes that appeared desultorily with the De Legnano mark in 1500 and shortly thereafter. Some of these betray rather more care in correction than was usual in small grammar books, but there is no good reason to think that Mancinelli himself was directly involved. (83)

The only clear indication we have that Mancinelli was personally involved in collecting his works is a preface dated 1504 which, however, first appeared with a 1507 Opera omnia title page by Tacuino. Mancinelli had died in the meantime, probably in 1505, and so here he was made to speak posthumously. He wrote that the project was to assemble the corrected works written for young boys and adolescents into a single volume, and then he gave a classified list, which is precious evidence for his retrospective sense of his own career. There are three classes, Grammaticae Praeexercitamenta, or preparatory exercises in grammar, Carminum Opuscula, short works in verse, and Solutae orationis Opuscula, short works in prose. (84) The list that appears under these headings is tantalizing. Missing are the commentaries on Juvenal, Horace and Virgil (presumably because Mancinelli did not see them as made for adolescent students), but included are the Valla and Ad Herennium commentaries. At the very end are the three lost anthologies -- Plato, Aristotle, and Centiloquium. If Mancinelli himself edited this list, it may be that the three "lost" anthologies were simply projects he still had in hand in 1504 and which he never completed.

The evidence for Mancinelli's direct involvement in collecting his works is fragmentary, but, whoever came up with the idea initially, it seems that by 1504 the eminent author had been recruited to oversee the project. He started by imposing some order. For Tacuino, however, the order was still an afterthought. The title page with Mancinelli's logical classification dates from August 5, 1507; but the only copy of this Opera omnia I have seen contains more fascicles printed before that date than after. The title page was merely Tacuino's device for encouraging customers to collect a set. (85)


  • Open Bibliography
  • (76) Mancinelli 1492b; this edition is very rare; I have consulted the copy at the University of Illinois/Urbana-Champaign. The first such list appeared in Mancinelli 1490b, in the dedication to Battista Gorio cited in section 3.01.
  • (77) Mancinelli 1498a, fol. A1v.
  • (78) Tortelli 1493. The mistaken description of Spica is less easy to account for, but a sloppy reading of a caption title in an earlier Venice edition, Mancinelli 1492a, fol. a3r, may be the explanation.
  • (79) Mancinelli 1498a, copies at the British Library and at the Universities of Padua and Pavia. Some other copies do not bear this title page. I have not been able to verify if this means they were issued with title and have lost it. Alternatively it could mean that the title page was made as an afterthought, perhaps some considerable time after February 1498.
  • (80) Mancinelli 1498b and c, 1499, and 1500b. For the privilege, Fulin 1882a, 139; CTC 5:379. Tacuino in these years applied for privileges for other schoolbooks that never appeared; see Fulin 1882a, 163-165.
  • (81) Mancinelli 1500a, IGI 6052.
  • (82) Mancinelli 1500d.
  • (83) Mancinelli 1499b (IGI 356, GW 9022), a Donatus melior, may have been the occasion for the new series which also included Mancinelli 1500c, 1500d, 1500e, 1500f, 1500g. The De Legnano booklets are very rare but significant groups of them survive at the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, at the Biblioteca Nacional de Portugal, and at the Free Library of Philadelphia. Ambrosiana, Inc. 830-835 was kindly examined for me by Angela Nuovo and Gigliola Barbero, who report that it bears the ownership mark of collector Ambrogio Archinto (1481-1518). Copinger 1898, 20 records five of the Milan booklets that were once bound together; today those copies are separates in the collection of the Free Library of Philadelphia. Unlike the others in the series the Donatus must have circulated frequently as a separate to judge from the fact that it survives in larger numbers than the others and more often separately than in a set. Between 1503 and 1505, Mantegazza printed another series of Mancinelli's works for the printer/publisher Gottardo da Ponte; Sandal 1978, 65-67. And again, around 1505 the Paris scholar/printer Josse Bade Ascensius began issuing groups of Mancinelli's works. The demand for such collections may be gauged by the fact that several early assemblies of them survive into our own day, usually bringing together many pamphlet-sized works by the same printer or publisher, e.g.Padua, Universitaria 107.b.140; Pavia, Universitaria III.B.20. A similar miscellany made up of later Venice imprints is Perugia, Biblioteca Augusta I.I.2781.
  • (84) Mancinelli 1507a. These are my expansions of abbreviations given by the printer (presumably following Mancinelli's manuscript abbreviations): ¶GRAMMA.PRAE. ... ¶CARMI.OPVSCV. ... ¶SOLV.or(nis.OPu. Mellidi 2002, 86 expands the first of these abbreviations as Praecepta, based on a source she does not cite explicitly. Since the list is fully systematic, it almost surely derives from Mancinelli's own pen. Mancinelli himself described the new volume as diligenter recognita, specifying that this work was done for a new Tacuino edition. Tacuino's 1507 preface claimed this work was done just before the author died; he may have been urging the project on Mancinelli since the January 1500 privilege.
  • (85) Mancinelli 1507c, copy at Padua. The same title page appears again on a copy of Mancinelli 1508g bound with Mancinelli 1508f at Volterra, so the August 1507 title page, like that of February 1498, almost surely was intended to announce a new series of reprints while pushing the market for old titles in stock.
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