Dante : La Commedia (Comm. Martin Paolo Nidobeato).

Dante Alighieri, 1265-1321.


<p style='text-align: justify;'><p>The 1478 Milan edition of Dante’s Commedia was edited by Martino Nidobeato and Guidone Terzago, and based on an earlier commentary by Jacopo della Lana. Printed in Milan by brothers Ludovico and Albert Pedemontani, this edition is thought to be the only book known to contain both of their names.</p><p>The book begins with a prefatory letter, dated March 1478, written by Nidobeato and dedicated to the marquis of Monferrato, <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(7);return false;'>“MILITAE SUPREMO DUCI”</a>, whom he tutored and was in service to for twenty-seven years.</p><p>Textually, this is an extremely important book ‘for its printing in two types, Roman characters being used for the text and Gothic for the commentary’ (Speight, ‘The John Rylands Library Dante Collection’). The typeset used for the commentary is slightly smaller than that used for the text and is one of the devices employed by the editors to promote easier reading; another such device is the alphabetical system used throughout the poem, which corresponds to relevant sections of the commentary gloss. This system of cross-referencing uses the letters a to z (and then back to a again) alongside the text. It allows the reader to follow the pertinent sections of the surrounding commentary, but is not always entirely consistent (Richardson, Print Culture in Renaissance Italy). On <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(69);return false;'>e1r</a>, for example, the letter t is followed by b and on <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(25);return false;'>b5r</a>, the letter z is used twice in succession.</p><p>Other navigational devices used within this edition of Dante’s Commedia include titles and tables of contents, as well as large margins and divisions between the three cantiche. Each canto has a title, which comprises the number of the canto and the name of the cantica in which it is found; a format which is continued throughout the edition. The only variation within the layout of the three cantiche comes in the third part, Paradiso, where the table of contents comes after the third colophon. Each cantica is supplied with different dates of completion within its corresponding colophon: <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(168);return false;'>I) 27 Sept. 1477</a>; <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(315);return false;'>II) 22 Nov. 1477</a>; <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(502);return false;'>III) 9 Feb. 1478</a>. The prefatory letter is also dated although this suggests that the letter was printed at a later date (1 Mar. 1478). The book then concludes with a fourth colophon on <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(502);return false;'>[3n7]v</a>, which ends ‘MP. N. N. CVM. GV. T. FA. CV.’ (Martinus Paulus Nidobeatus Novariensis cum Guidone Terzago faciendum curavit).</p><p>There are many supplementary paratextual features within this edition, such as the succession of religious addenda located after the third cantica. These comprise <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(500);return false;'>‘Li septe sagramenti’, ‘Li dieci comandamenti’, ‘Septe peccati mortali’, ‘Lo paternostro’ and the ‘Ave Maria’</a> and suggest an intended religious reception of the text. On <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(16);return false;'>a5v</a>, there is a Latin poem ‘ad lectorem’, in which Nidobeato praises Dante and the innovative reference system of his own edition, and, on <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(496);return false;'>[3n4]v</a>, there are two further paratextual features: the ‘Excusatione et protesto finale dellauctore’ and the ‘Credo di Danti’.</p><p>This edition of the Commedia is left entirely undecorated, although space has been left by the printer for the insertion of illuminated initial letters, an example of which can be found on <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(11);return false;'>a3r</a>. There are, however, many instances of watermarks upon the leaves of the book, particularly that of an eight-petal flower: a watermark which typically demonstrates a Lombardy origin at this time. The inner flyleaf at the front of the book also houses a watermark: the letters JHS or YHS, monograms for Jesus. Finally, an upside-down fleur-de-lis can be seen on the inner leaf at the back of the book.</p><p>The copy of this edition held at the John Rylands library is relatively well-preserved, although <a href='' onclick='store.loadPage(503);return false;'>[3n8]r</a> shows evidence of substantial physical damage and, although repairs have been undertaken, this damage is still visible upon the leaf.</p></p>

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