Elegantiole: noviter correcte et in pristinum statum redacte. Libellus eiusdem de novem verbis contra vulgatam multorum opinionem. Eiusdem libellus flosculorum

Autore: DATI, Agostino (1420-1478)

Tipografo: Giovanni Tacuino

Dati tipografici: Venezia, 16 aprile 1509

4to (212x149 mm). [28] leaves. Collation: a-g4. Large woodcut illustration on the title page depicting a schoolteacher surrounded by his pupils and bearing the monogram L of the Florentine engraver Lucantonio degli Uberti, active in the years 1503-1557 in Verona, Venice, and Florence. With three decorated initials on black ground. Colophon a l. g4r. Recently rebound in old half-calf over wooden boards, light blue edges. Some staining, but a very good, wide-margined copy.


EXTREMELY RARE EDITION of this very popular schoolbook by Agostino Dati, a pupil of Francesco Filelfo and a teacher of grammar. The edition also includes the Libellus de novem verbis and the Libellus flosculorum, that had first appeared in the 1503 Sienna edition of Dati's works.

The Elegantiolae were printed over a hundred times only in the thirty years that separates the year of the first edition (Cologne, 1470) and 1500, and remained a bestseller also all along the sixteenth century. For its practical purpose all the early editions of the Elegantiolae are extremely rare.

Agostino Dati was born in Sienna in 1420. He learned Latin under the guidance of Francesco Filelfo, who was a professor in Sienna from 1434 to 1438 and considered him as the best of his Sienese students. To the knowledge of Latin Dati soon added that of Greek and Hebrew. Thanks to the fame he soon acquired as a scholar, in 1443 the Duke of Urbino invited him to teach in that city. Later Dati went to Rome, invited by Pope Nicholas V, who made him “magister pontificiarum epistolarum”. Returning to Sienna shortly afterwards, Dati opened a school of rhetoric to which he devoted much of his time, animated by the desire to inculcate in young people the aspiration to a cultural and spiritual elevation, as well as to provide them with the norms of a perfect Latin language based on the imitation of the classics. At the same time Dati also held several political and administrative positions in his hometown; in particular from 1452 he was Chancellor of the Republic. He died of plague in Sienna in April 1478.

His writings, mostly on rhetoric, philology and history, immediately met with considerable fortune, which spread beyond the Italian geographical borders and which can be attributed to the vastness of the knowledge revealed in them and to the clear and solemn literary style of their author. In particular, the Elegantiolae was by far the most successful and reprinted Italian school manual of the fifteenth century. After his death, his son Niccolò gathered all his writings. The edition was published, with the title Opera, first in Sienna in 1503 by Girolamo Dati, nephew of Niccolò, who had died in 1501, and later in Venice in 1516.

The Isagogicus libellus (as was originally also called) was written to teach how to compose letters and orations, as well as to give rules on how to write in proper Latin. It also presents a choice of “flores' from the works of Cicero, Terence and other classical writers. Composed by Dati in a very short time, the book first appeared in Cologne in 1470, printed by Ulrich Zell together with the Praecepta de ordine studendi by Guarino Veronese; reprinted immediately afterwards in Ferrara in 1471 by André Belfort, it had an immediate and extraordinary diffusion all over Europe, reaching by the end of the fifteenth century more than one hundred editions, mainly under the title Elegantiolae (cf. P. Viti, Dati, Agostino, in: “Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani”, vol. XXXIII, 1987, s.v.).


Edit 16, CNCE16029; Sander, 2380; Essling, 553.