Erasmus and Aldus Manutius
ERASMUS SPENT MOST OF THE YEAR 1508 in Venice in close
collaboration with the celebrated scholar-printer Aldus Manutius. It is an important episode in his life as well as in the
broader history of Renaissance humanism. It is also interesting in the light it sheds on the relationship between author
and printer in these early times, albeit in this case a unique
relationship because of the character and stature of both men.
Their meeting and joint endeavor took place in the course of an extended visit to Italy by Erasmus which in itself has several aspects of interest and importance. In this essay I shall focus on Erasmus' association with Aldus and his Press although without limiting myself solely to that central event.
I want to see it in an ample context of its occasion and its times.
Erasmus first came to Italy, a land he had long desired to see, in the late summer of 1506. The opportunity for this journey arose while he was visiting England, where he had come several months earlier at the invitation of Lord Mountjoy, a former student and zealous patron of the humanist's, and at the urging of other friends. It was his second visit to England, and at this time especially he looked for the support and companionship he knew he would find there. After Italy England was his intellectual patrie, as Renaudet has observed, 1 and his English friends were both erudite and eminent. The precocious young lawyer Thomas More was foremost among them, as was John Colet, who had recently been appointed Dean of St. Paul's in London. Several others