54. Aldus Manutius. Institutiones grammaticae (1523)

4° ; [8], 204 leaves; 211 x 147mm.

Written during the 1480s when Aldus the Elder was teaching at Carpi, the Institutiones grammaticae were revised and first published in 1493 by Andrea Torresani. After establishing his own printing press, Aldus published the Latin grammar three times before he died. In spite of these four early publications there is little evidence that it enjoyed much success. The predominant grammar of the day was still Alexander of Villedieu's Doctrinale (originally written ca. 1199), which ran through 279 editions during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The limited success of Aldus's grammar was perhaps more a result of the author's prestige than any intrinsic merit of the work.

Aldus did, however, have remarkably progressive pedagogical ideas. In the epilogue to the 1493 edition, Aldus explains, "I had to teach young children and I was not able to do it as effectively as I wished. No one in my judgement had yet written a grammar suitable for instructing children. One was quite short and concise, another exceedingly diffuse and ostentatious, a third utterly inept and indigestible; . . . none of them satisfied me. I have sought what I most felt the need of, a grammar to teach children quickly and effectively." In the preface he admonishes teachers, "Do not force children to memorize anything except the best authors, . . . not your own composition in prose and verse or those in the grammar book. They will unlearn in a few days what took great effort to learn. . . . Children will become desperate, run away from school, and hate such studies."

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