Letter 18: Filippo Beroaldo the Younger to Aldus

Beroaldo introduces himself as a relative of the elder Filippo, as humane a man of letters as his older namesake. He apprises Aldus of events in Bologna, letting him know of the Greek scribe Georgius Moschos’ return to Aldus’ home city of Venice. In closing, Beroaldo makes a request of Aldus to help locate missing pages in a book he inherited.

Salve Alde humanissime.

{1}Revertitur Venetias Georgius graecus, homo probus a dissimillimo, isthinc huc lautis pollicitationibus perductus. Volui ego illum penes me continere per duos proximos menses, cum salario sesquiaurei in singulos menses et propriis meis expensis, sed homo conditionem respuit ita, ut dicebat, rationibus vitae suae deposcentibus. Poterat sane apud me Latinam linguam perdiscere, etiam ingratis, nam cum quo conterraneo suo loqueretur? Maluit tum Venetias repedare, ut isthic Latinam linguam sub te magistro ediscat, ut mox Latinitate donatus ad nos remigret. Sed de graeco satis, in quem impie municeps noster se gessit.

{2} Nunc de me pauca. Scito me esse nepotem Philippi Beroaldi, eiusque cognominem atque gentilem. Duo enim Philippi sumus in eadem familia et professione. Amo tum litteratos omnes, tum te maxime, qui literatissimus litteratos omnes industria tua adiuvas, illis libros in utraque lingua antea paene invisos exhibendo pro qua quidem re omnes bonos tibi debere necesse est.

{3} Codrus tibi amicissimus, nobisque etiam praeceptor, ut scis, superioribus mensibus vita functus est. Eius multos libros dono habui a sapientissimo Bentivolo protonotario, inter quos epistolae sunt illae graecae a te impressae, Codroque dedicatae. In hoc volumine, ut unus quinternio deest ita alius superfluit. Dedi Georgio qui superhabundabat, tu si libet illum mihi mitte qui deest, cuius notam et signum Georgius habet. Si mihi aut rescribes aut quinternionem mittes, prius mittito Alexandro Sartio utriusque nostrum amatissimo, qui illum mihi fideliter reddet. Non plura in praesentia scribam, graecus enim instat ut oram solvat. Tantum habeas me Beroaldumque maiorem tibi esse deditissimos.
Vale. 18 Iul M.D.
Tuus totus Philippus Beroaldus iunior.

Notes to the Text

remigret V: remigaret AldRespons

antea V: antiqua AldRespons

prius V: AldRespons omits


My honored Aldus, greetings.

{1} Georgius the Greek, a good man unlike any other, is returning to Venice, being sent from here to there with lavish promises. I wanted to keep him here in my company for about two months, with a salary of one-and-a-half gold pieces every month and all expenses paid by me, but the man rejected these terms, as he said, because of the demands that life set on him. He could have easily learned the Latin language with me, even unwillingly, for with whom of his fellow countrymen could he have spoken? He preferred to go back to Venice, so that he could absorb Latin there under your tutelage and return to us once he acquired Latinity. But enough about the Greek, towards whom our fellow-citizen has behaved so badly.

{2} Now a little about me. You should know that I am the cousin of Filippo Beroaldo, of the same surname and stock, so we are two Filippos in the same family, as well as profession. I love all learned people, but I love you over the rest, since you, as the most erudite, help all the learned through your diligence by revealing to them books which were practically never-before-seen in either language beforehand, for which reason you are rightfully owed all good things.

{3} Your dearest Codro, who, as you know, was my teacher, departed from this life in the last few months. I received his many books as a gift from the protonotary, the wise Bentivoglio, among which are those Greek letters which you printed and dedicated to Codro. In this volume, one quire is missing where another is inserted. I’ve given Georgius the extra one; if it pleases you, send me the missing one, as Georgius can recognize its features. If you either rewrite it or send out the quire, first send it to Alexander Sarcius, beloved by both of us, since he will faithfully give it to [i.e. translate it for] me. I will leave off writing for now, and, in fact, the Greek insists he is about to set sail. Stay as you are, and Beroaldo the Elder and I will remain your most devoted friends.
July 18, 1500.
Entirely yours,
Filippo Beroaldo Junior

Notes to the Translation:

Georgius the Greek: De Nolhac identifies him as Georgius Moschos, a scribe from Corfu. Evidently, Moschos was a relative newcomer to Italy, since de Nolhac (1887) places him in Corfu in 1496. Speranzi (2017) attributes three manuscripts to him, all in Greek: Ms. Vat. gr. 1379 (Vatican Library); Ms. Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, A 114 sup.; and parts of Ms. Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Plut.74.19.

One-and-a-half gold pieces: During the Renaissance, the price of the gold florin was in constant fluctuation. In 1500, one florin was equivalent to 140 silver soldi, and, in terms of purchasing power, 10 soldi bought a day’s worth of unskilled labor. Beroaldo’s stipend was equivalent to 210 soldi, or 21 days’ unskilled labor. (Goldthwaite, The Economy of Renaissance Florence, 612)

The cousin of Filippo Beroaldo: Filippo Beroaldo the Elder was a prominent humanist, known to Manutius, as well as a permanent fixture at the University of Bologna. Historians have speculated as to the exact relationship between the two Filippos. Filippo the Younger was the son of notary Nicola Beroaldo. Jules Paquier (in De Philippi Beroaldi junioris vita et scriptis) makes him the son of the senior Filippo’s younger brother.

Dearest Codro: See notes above (Letter 6). Antonio Urceo Codro died on February 11, 1500.

The wise Bentivoglio: The Bentivoglio family ruled Bologna as an autonomous polity for much of the 15th century. Beroaldo could be writing about Ermete Bentivoglio, son of the current prince Giovanni II. Ermete was the dedicatee of the junior Beroaldo’s edition of Antonio Urceo Codro’s Orationes (1502).

Those Greek letters you printed: The work in question is the Epistolarum graecarum collectio, published by the Aldine press in 1499.

Georgius can recognize its features: The Latin phrase nota et signum is difficult to translate, as the two words nota and signum refer to mechanisms of signification which are not clearly distinguished in the English language. Collectively, the terms refer to the two arms of the “semiotic triangle” of interpersonal communication, as nota refers to the active process of a speaker evoking their thoughts as communicable symbols, whereas signum speaks to the passive process of a thought being evoked in the audience’s mind via the symbol. The statement nota et signum Georgius habet, therefore, simply means that Georgius is able to identify the material in question, though I have tried in this translation to more closely capture the “two-step” model of this process of identification. The phrase has held this meaning in the Latin philosophical lexicon since at least the works of Robert Kilwardby in the 13th century.

Alexander Sarcius: See notes above (Letter 10). Sarcius was from Bologna, and Filippo Beroaldo the Younger was his pupil.

Filippo Beroaldo the Younger: Beroaldo, as the letter states, is a relative of the better-known Filippo the Elder, though the precise relationship between the two is disputed. He was born in 1472 in Bologna, and studied in that city’s university with Filippo the Elder and Antonio Urceo, or Codro. At the time of writing, he was a professor of letters at the University of Bologna, a position he took in 1498. In the following years, he would be called to Rome, then embark on an illustrious career under the patronage of Pope Julius II, then later as secretary to Giovanni de’ Medici, the future Leo X. Among other works, he is famous for editing the editio princeps of the first six books of Tacitus’ Annals at Leo’s behest. He also knew Greek, and translated Isocrates’ To Demonicus in 1502. Beroaldo died in 1518.