Articles / Aufätze
“Si hoc saeculo natus fuisset”
Refurbishing the Catholicon for the 16th century
The lexicographical part of the Catholicon of Giovanni Balbi of Genoa (d.1286), compiled in 1286, was the dominant Latin dictionary of the 15th century and the first major Latin dictionary to be printed: 24 editions recorded from the 1460s to 1500, another 7 from 1501 to 1520. In the twenty-five years before the final edition, two attempts were made to refurbish it, one by a certain Master Petrus Aegidius in 1499 and one by the humanist Jodocus Badius Ascensius (1462–1535) in 1506. Their editions were meant to maintain the place of a 13th-century dictionary in the world of humanist reference publishing. This paper gives an account of Aegidius’ and Badius’ additions to the Catholicon, emphasising both the intellectual content of their work and the dictionary’s place in the history of the learned book. The paper concludes with an account of how the Catholicon was driven out of the market by a dictionary compiled in the late 15th century, the Dictionarium of Ambrogio Calepino (c.1435–1511), published from 1502 onwards. An appendix sets out the editions of the Catholicon from 1499 onwards, with title page transcriptions.