Incunabula and the Keio University Library Collection


Franciscus Mataratius, De componendis versibus hexametro et pentametro (Leipzig: Jacobus Thanner, 1498)

De componendis versibus hexametro et pentametro

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This is the second of a compilation of seven texts bound together in one volume (IKUL 031), and treats the subject of Latin verse, especially with regards to the composition of hexameter and pentameter verse. The author was the Italian humanist Franciscus Mataratius (1443-1518) from Perugia. From 1486 to 1492 he taught in Siena, a town near Perugia, at the studio, a school for Greek and Latin language studies. In 1498 he returned to his hometown of Perugia, where he became a university instructor teaching rhetoric and verse. His main interest was in Ciceronian studies, but he commented extensively on various works by Roman classical authors, as well as on contemporary Neo-Latin scholars such as Mancinellus, the first text in this Sammelband (IKUL 031a). At the beginning of Mataratius's text, the logic of verse composition, as suggested by the Roman poet Ovid, is explained. At the end of the preface is the supplement De quibusdem lyricis carminibus by Jacobus Sentinus, another scholar working on classical Roman authors at the end of the 15th century. The same edition of the Mataratius supplemented by Sentinus had previously been printed in Venice by the famous German printer Erhart Ratdolt in 1468.

The printer of this text, Jacobus Thanner (d.1538?), who worked in Leipzig and who was the last printer to set up a business there in the 15th century, used three different printer's devices. He was in close contact with the university professors, and he could almost be called one of the first university printers. Under the supervision of the university professors, he printed editions of the Roman classics such as Horatius, Tibullus – text number five (IKUL 031e) of this compilation of seven texts – Aristotle, Cicero and others. Furthermore, he printed the works of Neo-Latin authors such as Lucan, Mutius and Mataratius (this text), and many works in his native German besides these. Judging from the quality of his printed works, one can say that Thanner responded well to the demands of the humanistic-minded professors. Although the printer was in close contact with the university instructors, this copy does not show any evidence of heavy use by university students. In fact, there is no wide, white-line spacing and only a few manuscript annotations. It is most likely that this copy was intentionally made for the use of professors only. The annotations found in the book support this view. One handwritten note in particular is of interest: a verb conjugation pattern, which reads, lego, sedo, voco, rego. This grammatical phenomenon is used consistently in the 15th-century grammar book Ianus (Black, p. 145), from where it was probably taken. This might indicate that the text was used either for preparing lectures, or for a professor's own study.

  Black, Robert, Humanism and Education in Medieval and Renaissance Italy: Tradition and Innovation in Latin Schools from the Twelfth to the Fifteenth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001)



Mataratius, Franciscus
Place of Publication
Jacobus Thanner


Date of Publication

Volume of seven texts [031a-g] in a contemporary German half pigskin leather binding over wooden boards engraved with blind stamping, using a ms fragment, a fully functional hook-clasp fastening with ornamental engraving.

Bibliographical Notes

A-D6 E8; 32 leaves; marginalia by a contemporary hand in red; spaces for initial capitals with guide-letters, only the first initial capital (A2r) filled in red; printer's mark on E8v.

H 10895*, IJL 216, IJL2 270, PP 44
Acquisition Year

Hartung und Karl, München 8 November 1988, lot 241.