Core Curriculum : Literature Humanities

Greek Histories > Herodotus

Aldine Herodotus (Erasmus)

Herodotus. Histories

Venice: Aldus Manutius, 1502

Columbia RBML Plimpton 880 1502 H43

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Erasmus was the first humanist scholar to argue that the New Testament should be read in the original Greek and not in Latin translation.  (The Complutensian polyglot Bible (1514-1517) in this exhibit, is also a product of this humanist desire to read sacred text in the original language.)  Here Erasmus’ knowledge of Greek is attested in his marginal notations to this 1502 Greek edition of Herodotus's Histories. On the verso side of the final leaf he has written "Sum erasmi" or "I belong to Erasmus." Erasmus' correspondence backs up the claim of a second inscription on this page, which reads: "This book of Herodotus' Histories D. Erasmus of Rotterdam has given as a gift to Antonius Clava…the same Antonius Clava, upon dying, bequeathed it in his will to Levinus Ammonius."

This was the first edition of Herodotus’ works, one of the many first printed works in Greek to be produced by the humanist printer Aldus Manutius (1449-1515), who set up his publishing house in Venice primarily to print Greek texts.  Aldus Manutius assembled a group of scholars to aid in the preparation of these texts, and by 1502 title pages of Aldine editions refer to Neakademia, a club formed by Aldus for the promotion of Greek studies. When Erasmus visited Venice for a few months in 1502 he attended a club meeting of the Neakademia. Club meetings were conducted entirely in Greek. Erasmus may have picked up this copy of Herodotus at the time.

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