Cicero (106-43 B.C.) became for the Middle Ages and Renaissance the epitome of good Latinity, and his collections of letters were especially important as models for correct grammar and style.
In his dedicatory preface Aldus gives one of his clearest statements of purpose in producing books in the octavo size: he is providing books in a format that can be taken out of libraries, the better to fit into the lifestyle of such men as the diplomat to whom this book is dedicated. "We give you Cicero's Epistolae familiares now, and soon will give you . . . the rest [of the letters]; then all [of Cicero's] works worth reading. We will take care to furnish, Lord willing, portable libraries, both Latin and Greek. We have lavished great care on these Epistolae familiares, so that they come out of our [printing house] as correct as possible. You will undoubtedly recognize this in reading them."