Letter 9: Aldus to Conrad Celtes

In this letter Aldus writes to Conrad Celtes and praises the letters that he has received from him. Aldus approves of Celte’s plans to visit him, desiring to see both Celtes himself and the books he claims to have. He then says that he is sending some Greek introductory texts to Celtes for him to recommend to others.

Aldus Manutius Romanus Domino Conrado, viro doctissimo ac poetae laureato et amico suo honorando.

{1} Redditae mihi sunt litterae tuae, Conrade vir doctissime, quae me summopere delectarunt, tum quia istic incumbi Graecis litteris significabant, tum etiam quia tantum tibi placent labores nostri. Quapropter me tibi plurimum debere fateor, teque etiam atque etiam rogo ut quotiens usu venerit utaris me posthac familiariter; invenies enim semper Aldum tuum paratissimum.

{2} Quod scribis esse tibi Graecos libros et Latinos non indignos lectu teque ad ieiunium venturum Venetias cum libris si ita mihi visum fuerit: libenter equidem viderem libros, sed te longe libentius. Tamen nolim hac solum causa te ad nos ire. Non enim sumus tanti ut tu, vir clarissime, huc te conferas ut gratificeris nobis. Quod si videndae etiam Italiae desiderio teneris, non modo cupio ut venias, sed te etiam id quantum possum rogare, rogo.

{3} Quae petebas impressa mitterem ad te, introducendorum adolescentum gratia ad Graecas litteras, curavimus ut tibi satisfieret. Bibliopola enim cui ad me dedisti litteras fert ea istuc venalia, non mea tamen, sed sua. Praeterea, quia te studiosissimum esse litterarum Graecarum intelligo, mitto ad te munera, introductiones quasdam utilissimas ad Graecam linguam nuper nostra cura impressas, ut, si tibi visum fuerit, horteris adolescentulos qui eas ad suam utilitatem perlegant ediscantque. Vale, meque ut facis ama, vir excellentissime. Venetiis iii Idus Octobris 1498.


Aldus Manutius the Roman to Lord Conrad, a most learned man and Poet Laureate and his friend most deserving of honor.

{1}I received your letters, Conrad, most learned of men, which I found exceedingly delightful both because they demonstrate your hard work on the Greek language, and also because my own work delights you so much. On this account I confess I owe very much to you, and I ask again and again that, as often as the occasion may arise, you make use of me as a friend. You will always find your friend Aldus to be most obliging.

{2} As to what you write about having Greek and Latin texts worthy of reading, and of coming to Venice for Lent with these books if I would like, for my part I would be pleased to see these books, but I would be much more pleased to see you. But I would not want you to come here for this cause alone, for I am not such a man that you, a man of the highest brilliance, should bring yourself here to do me a favor. But if you are still seized by a desire to see Italy, I not only want you to come, but I ask as emphatically as possible that you do so.

{3}We made sure to satisfy you regarding the publications to introduce the young to Greek  which you asked me to send to you. The bookseller to which you gave your letters for me brings them to you for sale (not mine, however, but his). Moreover, because I perceive that you are extremely learned in the Greek language, I am sending to you as a gift some very useful introductions to the Greek tongue, recently printed under my direction, so that, if you like, you can encourage the young to read them thoroughly and learn them by heart to aid them. Farewell, and love me as you do, most excellent of men. Venice, October 12, 1498.

Notes to the Translation:

Conrad Celtes: German Scholar and poet whom Fredrick III, the Holy Roman Emperor, named Poet Laureate. He was also librarian of the Imperial Library (now the Austrian National Library).

But if you are still seized by a desire to see Italy: Compare Terence, Hecyra 1.12.13-15: Edepol te desiderium Athenarum arbitror, Philotium, cepisse saepe, et te tuum consilium contemsisse “I perceive, by god, that you have been taken by a desire for Athens, Philotis, and have scorned your plan.”

Some very useful introductions to the Greek tongue: Probably the Greek Grammar of Urbano de Belluno, published by the Aldine Press.