5.09 Typography for the Classroom

It is unclear how much of the formatting of the handsome Roman student editions of the fifteen eighties is directly the work of the editors and how much was undertaken on the initiative of the printers. The choice of typefaces (attractive new romans and italics) seems likely to have been left to the printers at Rome, Francesco Zanetti in the first instance (1584), but soon also Vincenzo Accolti (1585) and Bartolomeo Grassi (1585 and 1586). It is probable, however, that the editors had a direct hand in reformatting the quotations. Alvares favored including many examples with specific citations. This meant that most of the early student editions in octavo had cluttered pages, particularly in the so-called "appendices" to each rule where short quotations jostle in solid paragraphs with authors, abbreviated titles, and chapter numbers. The Roman editors and printers attempted to make this clearer typographically. They left the quoted examples inside solid-set paragraphs but removed the highly abbreviated citations to the margins where they appear in clear but tiny type.

Questions of typography were definitely on the minds of the Roman editors, as they had been for others who were using the student versions of Alvares in classrooms. A fascinating survival from the Collegio Romano gives direct evidence of this process exactly in the period when the most extensive revisions were in progress. A copy of a 1583 Lisbon student edition with the ex libris of the Collegio Romano contains extensive notes about typographical revisions in the hand of a Portuguese reviewer. How this copy came to Rome we do not know, but it is clear evidence of the kinds of changes that were being contemplated there. The annotator marked numerous typographical errors including several passages that should be in italic and not roman type and vice versa. He would seem to have been working from another edition, since he supplied missing lines in poetic examples, rewrote passages that were confused, and added entire paragraphs omitted by the typesetter. In one case he directed that the quotations in a set of examples be rearranged into a clearer order. The largest number of changes concern the accuracy and arrangement of such classical examples: corrections to citations, corrections to the texts, additions of quotations, or substitutions of one quotation for another. More rarely, examples were deleted. These editorial interventions do not correspond to the changes made in any surviving edition I have seen, but they are consistent with the kind of work the Roman editors did in the early fifteen eighties. (46)

Even with the extensive revisions undertaken in the fifteen eighties, and after the still more extensive discussions and criticisms mandated between the 1586 draft of the Ratio Studiorum and its 1599 promulgation, some confusion persisted about the order in which Alvares was to be taught. The 1599 Ratio recognizes this explicitly. The first of three classes of students was to study Book I and the first few sections of Book II. The second class would cover the next part of Book II up to the section of figured constructions together with the "easier appendices." The third class would finish Book II, study the remaining appendices, and undertake Book III. This required curriculum, then, follows the overall order of the revised Alvares, but, as in most of the earlier critiques, it recognizes that the appendices were too advanced for most students. It was necessary to reposition this sophisticated material later in the course. (47)


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  • (46) This book is now Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale, Roma: 204.23.D.13.
  • (47) MPSI 5:404. We know that Alvares's grammar was used outside the Jesuit schools fairly early on but we do not know how selectively; see Grendler 1989, 175, 192 for its use at Venice in 1587. When the Barnabites adopted Alvares for use in their Latin courses, which were much shorter and less in-depth than the Jesuit curriculum, they had to adapt it for different grades; see Bianchi 1995, 805.
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