Maro, Publius Vergilius.
Venice: Aldus Manutius,
Following the five italic words printed in the St. Catherine of Siena of 1500, this Virgil of 1501 is the first complete book to be printed in italic type. Arguments that italic type enabled more words to fit on the page, thereby saving paper and lowering costs, have proven unfounded. It is clear from Aldus’s petition for legal protection that his italic font was meant to mimic humanist handwriting, thereby borrowing from the look and feel of the manuscript tradition. Professor Randall McLeod of the University of Toronto has demonstrated, through a comparison of type and ligatures, that Aldus Manutius and Francesco Griffo continued to develop and refine italic type even while this Virgil was in the press. The text is open to the familiar opening lines of the Aeneid.
From the Junius Spencer Morgan Collection of Virgil at Princeton University.