Incunabula and the Keio University Library Collection


Albius Tibullus, Elegia de amoribus et laudibus Messalae (Leipzig: Jacobus Thanner, 1500)

Elegia de amoribus et laudibus Messalae. Ed: Gregorius Breitkopf

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This text was printed in the east German city of Leipzig at the end of the 15th or at the beginning of the 16th century. It is text number five in a compilation of seven texts bound together in a Sammelband (IKUL 031); written in Latin, and concerned with the composition of verse, it is an elegy by the ancient Roman author Tibullus, dedicated to his patron, Corvinus Messard. Tibullus was one of the classical authors who were studied linguistically by the 'humanist' scholars towards the end of the 15th century. Humanists from Italy studied the classical language of Latin in order to trace the origins of expressions used in a clerical context during the Middle Ages.

German university professors, as well as northern European intellectuals in general, pursued their studies in a similar vein. However, because their knowledge of Latin differed considerably from that of Italian scholars, these northern European academics preferred to use printed works with commentaries by Italian scholars, rather than the original texts, as teaching materials. This method of instruction is reflected well in this text. Of the seven texts of the Sammelband, this is the only one containing a large variety of handwritten annotations. According to Kristian Jensen, these handwritten comments have been taken from an edition commented on by Bernardinus Cyllenius Veronensis, which was printed twice before the current text was published: in Rome in 1475, and in Venice in 1485 (Jensen, p. 485).

The printer of this text was Jacobus Thanner (d.1538), who received his bachelor's degree from the University of Leipzig. In 1498 he opened his own printing shop, where he mainly produced classical texts and works by Italian and German humanists, as well as textbooks. In the 16th century he printed numerous works by Martin Luther. Although many textbooks in Thanner's office were editions by Italian scholars, in the preface of this Tibullus text the name 'Gregorius Konitz' appears; Konitz was a well-known scholar at the University of Leipzig, and might have personally asked Thanner to print this work. It is a textbook copy especially made for instructing students.

Besides the annotations taken from the edition commented on by Bernardinus, there are handwritten phrases in the German vernacular. Furthermore, the text shows features redolent of the manuscript era, such as a running title and the inscription of initials in red ink. Of outstanding character are the annotations of an illustrative nature inscribed in blue ink. These illustrations, as well as the annotations in German, refer to single words in the text. Far from being academic references, these marginalia seem to express the emotional atmosphere attached to some words (Nartschik, p. 14).

  Jensen, Kristian, 'Exporting and Importing Italian Humanism: The Reception of Italian Printed Editions of Classical Authors and their Commentators at the University of Leipzig', Italia Medioevale e Umanistica, 45 (2004), 437-97
  Nartschik, Stefanie, 'Neo-Latin Verse and its composition: Introducing the Sammelband of Keio University Library', The Round Table, 19 (2006), 9-22



Tibullus, Albius
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-I6, 54 leaves; initial capitals supplied in red; printed area ruled in red; annotations in a contemporary hand; printer's mark on i6v.

Goff T366, H 15524, IJL 283, IJL2 366, PP 44
Acquisition Year

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