Agostino Dati (1420–78) was a philosopher, theologian, historian, linguist, and teacher in Siena. We know from his extensive correspondence that he also filled important public political, administrative, and judicial functions. Dati opened a school of rhetoric in Siena where he gave lectures illustrating the works of the classical poets. He was known for his oratory in both Latin and the vernacular. Elegantiolae is a handbook of rhetoric. Its first edition was published in Cologne in 1470; it was reprinted in Ferrara in 1471. From the beginning, it was a much-appreciated work that appeared in more than 100 editions and reprints before the end of the 15th century, a few of them annotated with commentary. The edition presented here, which dates from 1491, was published in Venice. On the first page, it has a xylograph (woodblock engraving) frame with the publisher’s initials: B.I., for Johannes Baptista. The incunabulum has a green cardboard binding with the signature “Lloyd, Wallis and Lloyd” (London bookbinders active from the early 19th century); a seal bookplate “A. Lampis. Paris;” and a label bookplate “From the Library of Ch. Fairfax Murray.” Charles Fairfax Murray (1849–1919) was a British art historian, collector, and dealer.

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Publication Information

Johannes Baptista de Sessa, Venice



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12 pages ; 21 centimeters


  1. Paolo Viti, “Dati, Agostino,” in Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, Volume 33 (Rome: Istituto dell'Enciclopedia Italiana, 1987).
  2. J. Christopher Warner, “Quick Eloquence in the Late Renaissance: Agostino Dati’s ‘Elegantiolae’,” in Humanistica Lovaniensia 61 (2012).

Last updated: March 23, 2017