Aelius Donatus

Aelius DonatusArs minor. Mainz: Johann Schöffer, ca. 1517-1518. Purchased on the Henry S. Morgan Fund, 2010.

This Latin grammar was a mainstay of elementary education in medieval Europe, a textbook constantly in demand and an obvious candidate for the newly invented art of printing. Gutenberg and his associates printed several editions, which survive only as fragments. This is the only known copy of an edition printed by Johann Schöffer, grandson of Gutenberg’s partner Johann Fust and son of Gutenberg’s successor Peter Schöffer. Unlike other Donatus editions, this one is profusely illustrated with metalcut borders depicting homely and humorous scenes that might have helped to alleviate the misery of learning Latin. One of the borders shows a printing press in action.


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