Letter 10: Pietro Ricci to Aldus

Pietro Ricci, often called Crinitus, a Florentine humanist, here writes to Aldus at the outset of the compilation of the Aldine Omnia Opera of Poliziano’s work. Pietro here writes that he has heard of Aldus’ acquisition of Poliziano’s letters, and of Francesco della Mirandola’s injunction for Aldus to put together a volume of the great humanist’s works.

Doctissimo viro Aldo Romano ut fratri carissimo. Venetiis [1]
Petrus Crinitus Aldo Bassianati S.

{1} Diu, Bassianas, cogitavi quibus possem verbis nostrum erga te animum. Sed tua et laus et industria ea est, ut nihil mihi unquam credam suppetiturum, in quo vel tandis de te meritis, vel meo saltim studio satis possim facere. Utcumque hoc tum haud ab re futurum sua opinatus, si te primum literis salutarem, dein mihi detur unquam occasio, tuam certis laudibus et industriam et eruditionem approbarem; et hercle tu ipse laboribus tuis non homines tantum aevi nostri iure quodam aeternitatis devinxisti tibi, sed extrinxisti et ipsam quoque posteritatem. Porro autem Florentina quidem indoles non dixerim, quam in uno Aldo sibi gratuletur, ac te duce rem non minus graecum quam latinam fore autumet opulentissimam. Verum de hoc alias tecum commodius; ad nostra accedam. Relatum nuper a Io. Francisco principe Mirandulano munus a te susceptum uti Politiani labores, qui a bonis passim expetuntur, te auctore formis excudentur. In qua re quidem, Bassianas, mirifice sum laetatus quod ad eum haec tantum virum videantur appulisse, qui non minus ista expendat quam agnoscat, quidam haec enim non agnoscunt ut expendant, alii non expendunt ut agnoscant. Reliquum igitur, uti quod princeps monuit Mirandulanus, id quidem operis non tibi aliter conmendatum quam ea quae de manu traduntur in manum. Illud adhuc non pretereo futuri forte mox ut isthuc accedam. Id hactenus tum non constitutum, ac ea quidem vel aduheam vel mittam quae integrum Politiani volumen absolvant; sed interim tuum in hoc consilium appetamus.

{2} De me autem ea tibi velim pollicearis, quae et posse me credas, et mihi ipsi prestare. Nolim enim putes in tuis me velle minus quae possim, quam posse in meis quae velim. Qua in re Saretium Alexandrum tam testem habemus quam auctorum volumus. Vale et me ames. Florentiae. Non. novembr. MCCCCLXXXXVII.


To the most learned man, Aldus, a Roman man, as to a dear brother.


Pietro Crinito greets Aldus, the man from Basiano

For a long time, man from Basiano, I’ve been reflecting upon how to properly express my thoughts to you. But both your praise and your diligence are such that I think nothing will ever suffice for me, in which I might be able to do enough either with such great favors from you, or, at least, by my own study. And having considered that it would not be unsuitable to the matter at hand if I should address you first in writing, and then, the opportunity might be given me at some point, that I may compliment with fixed praises both your work ethic and your erudition—for you have surely won eternal renown for yourself by your labors, and have bound yourself not just to the men of our age, but also to posterity itself. And further, however, I am not speaking as a Florentine, which itself rejoices in the one Aldus, and says that, with you at the helm, Greek is no less splendid than Latin. But we can talk about this another time; I now turn to our topics at hand. I heard that recently, a favor was asked of you by Prince Giovanni Francesco della Mirandola that the works of Poliziano, which were being sought occasionally, were to be published with you as editor. I was very happy to hear this, man from Basiano, because these kinds of things seem to attract only the kind of man who both knows the thing and publishes it, for some people don’t understand these things but end up publishing them, and others don’t publish them so that they can be ignorant of them. The rest of this work, as Prince Giovanni instructed, has been commended to none other than you, those things which passed into your hands. And furthermore, I’m not going to by chance pass over what’s to come so that I approach this sooner. At this point, this work hasn’t been collected, and, indeed, there are things I either brought or sent to you which would compose a complete volume of Poliziano’s work; but, in the meantime, I seek your advice in this.

On my account, however, I want you to commend to me both the things which you think I’m capable of, as well as those things which surpass my current abilities. For I don’t want you to think that I want to take on less than I actually want to, and that I am capable only of the things which I want to take on. In which regard, we have Alexander Sarcius as the editor we want. Goodbye, and may you love me—

Florence, November 7th, 1497

Notes to the Translation:

Pietro Crinito: (9 January 1475-5 July 1507) known as Crinitus or Pietro Del Riccio Baldi—“Crinitus” deriving from “Riccio,” “curly,” as translated into Latin— was a Florentine humanist, scholar, and poet, as well as disciple of Poliziano’s. His most famous work, De honesta disciplina (of which a modern edition is available: Pietro Crinito, De honesta disciplina; ed. Carlo Angeleri, Rome, 1955), was potentially a source for Nostradamus’ own work. He is not to be confused with Pietro Ricchi (1606-1675), the Italian baroque painter from Lucca famous for his frescoes in the Fléchères castle in France. Crinitus’ involvement and interest in the development of the Aldine edition of Poliziano’s works is on display in this letter, probably driven by the teacher-pupil relationship he shared with Poliziano, who had died three years before this letter was exchanged in 1497.

speaking as a Florentine: Florence of the quattro-and-cinquecento was, of course, a hotbed of humanism, experimental thinking, and respect for the Classical past and Classical thinkers. Crinitus emphasizes that he is writing here, not just as a man of worldly and humanistic education, but also as a friend: he praises Aldus as a man who would garner praise for his commitment to the Classical past by any logical person, earning kleos, Classical renown exemplified by the likes of epic heroes in Homer, for ages to come thanks to his editorial prowess.

Prince Giovanni Francesco della Mirandola: Pico della Mirandola, friend (and lover?) of Poliziano, would have been a part of the humanist circle in Florence, which also included the likes of the poet Girolamo Benivieni and Dominican friar Girolamo Benivieni.

with you as editor: This, of course, would become the Aldine edition of Poliziano’s work, published in July 1498, just four years after the great humanist’s death.

Alexander Sarcius: Collaborated with Crinitus on collecting Poliziano’s works and letters for the Aldine publication. They struck up a friendship in the process.