The Trials of a Publisher

Aldus Manutius, 

Preface to ‘Theocritus, Hesiod, Theognis: Selected Works’

“Yet, if you read anything here which remains uncorrected, most learned teacher, then here just as in other books, which I take care to publish for the use of all scholars (for I do not deny that there are some), do not impute the faults to me, but to the exemplars which I had to hand. For I have not set myself about the task of emending texts – for some of them, an Oedipus would be required to make conjectural emendation! They are so mutilated and muddled that the original authors themselves, were they to be revived, could scarcely hope to emend them.

Yet, I will try with the utmost zeal to see that they are at least printed more correctly than the exemplars. We did this in the text of Apollonius the grammarian, and thus we did it in this book in those eclogues which we added, thinking it better to have something rare than to have nothing. If an error lies hidden in obscurity, it is rarely or rather never corrected. If, however, it issues forth into the public, there are many who will criticize it, especially over a long time. Thus we see that it happened with Quintilian, thus it happened with Pliny the younger, and thus in several others, who are every day being corrected, and every day approach closer to their ancient elegance and candor. But those who accuse me are unfair and ungrateful. I would ask nothing of them but that they try at some time to publish Greek books as I have. Then they would have a different set of ideas on the subject. But enough of this…”

manutius2

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