Hero and Leander


This illustrated edition of the epyllion (epic poem) by the Greek poet Musaeus (also seen as Musaios, late fifth century‒early sixth century) relating the tragic love story of Hero and Leander is one of the first editions produced by Aldus Manutius the elder (1449 or 1450–1515) in his Venetian printing workshop, the Aldine Press. The book contains the text of the poem in the original Greek, in 343 hexameters, and a Latin translation. It is a matter of controversy in which year this undated edition was published—1494, 1495, 1497, and 1498 all have been suggested—and whether it appeared before or after the similarly undated Musaeus edition printed by Lorenzo de Alopa in Florence. Aldus Manutius was an innovative typographer, an excellent philologist, and, together with Filippo Giunta, one of the most important early printers of classical literature. He specialized in the editing and publishing of ancient Greek texts (31 editions). His relatively large print-runs—amounting to a total of around 60,000 books produced by his press—made these texts available to a wide public. Aldus Manutius worked closely with Francesco Griffo, a punch cutter and type founder from Bologna, to create their first Greek fonts. They designed and used four different sets of Greek printing types, each of which was modelled on the characteristic hand, and sometimes idiosyncratic abbreviations, of a contemporary calligrapher. The types used for the edition of Musaeus’s verses are Manutius’s earliest Greek font, which imitated the handwriting of Immanuel Rusotas, a Greek professional scribe who worked in Venice beginning in 1465. The respectable philological quality of the Aldine editions is partly due to Manutius’s cooperation with the scholar Markos Musuros (or Mousouros), but modern research has shown that the constitution of Musaeus’s text was the work of the printer himself. Which manuscripts he used is unknown. The Latin translation of the work also can be attributed to Manutius, as is attested by an autograph manuscript of the draft preserved in the Bibliothèque humaniste in Sélestat, France. The copy presented here belonged to the library of Hartmann Schedel and came to the Munich Court Library in 1571 as part of the collection of Johann Jakob Fugger.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Aldine Press, Venice

Title in Original Language

De Herone et Leandro


Type of Item

Physical Description

28 folios : illustrated


  • BSB shelfmark: Rar. 303
  • This description of the work was written by Kerstin Hajdú of the Bavarian State Library.

Last updated: March 16, 2017