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PSEUDO-PLUTARCHUS, De liberis educandis [Latin translation by Guarino Veronese]

In Latin, decorated manuscript on parchment
[Italy, Venice ? c. 1470-1480 ?]

TM 96

37 folios [preceded and ending by [2] paper flyleaves], on parchment, complete (collation: i10; ii10; iii10; iv10; v1), catchwords centered below written space, written in a clear rounded humanistic script, in light brown ink on up to 20 long lines (justification 70 x 115 mm), prickings still visible, ruled in lead point, rubrics in pale red or alternating red and brown ink, some marginal annotations, added annotations in Italian in a cursive later hand on fol. 37v; opening and closing rubrics in Roman capitals, spaces left for planned initials (initials wanting), paragraphs marked by Roman capital set off to the left. Bound in a later cardboard binding (seventeenth or eighteenth century ?), smooth spine, title inscribed in brown ink “Guarinus”, marbled paper pastedowns, edges painted green, inscription on upper cover: “XXVIII” and “Biandini Filippo Pbr [presbiter],”boards a little scuffed but generally in sound condition. Dimensions 120 x 165 mm.

This is a copy of an important, influential work on the education of children, translated from the Greek by a noted Italian humanist for a Florentine merchant and signed by a scribe who is evidently otherwise unknown. Of small format suitable for classroom use and executed with care in a neat humanist hand, this manuscript deserves further study with other extant manuscripts of the text, of which there is no modern edition and incunable editions are rare.


1. The scribe identifies himself in colophon on f. 37: “Ego Andreas Bandas hunc scripssi Plutarcum i[n] mensis septembris 14[..]”. The date of the manuscript was given by the original scribe, but unfortunately the last digits have been scratched out (not recorded in Bouveret, de la Mare, or elsewhere). Localization in Venice is suggested but the manuscript may originate in another northern Italian center (the text was first printed in Venice, 1471, see below).


ff. 1-2v, Dedicatory epistle of Guarino da Verona to Angelo Corbinelli; rubric in Roman capitals, Clarissimi viri Guarini .v. proemium incipit ad Angelum Corbinellum civem Florentinum; incipit, “[M]aiores nostros angele mi suavissime non ad mirari et maximis proxeque laudibus non possum cum tantam in eis animi magnitudinem…”; cxplicit: “…sed de his alias ipsum Plutarchum audiamus”;

ff. 3-37, Plutarch, De liberis educandis, Latin translation by Guarino da Verona; rubric, Explicit Prohemium. Incipit Plutarchus De liberis educadis feliciter; incipit, “[Q]uid nam est quod de ingenuorum educatione liberorum dicere… “; explicit: “…que in super diligentia indigebit Athumano effici posse constat ingenio “;

f. 37, Colophon, Plutarcus de liberis educandis feliciter explicit. Amen. Ego Andreas Banda hunc scripssi Plutarcum .i. [in] mensis setembris 14[..] [final two digits scratched out].

f. 37v, Added annotation [cursive later hand], Recipe in Italian: “Receta de far aqua cotta per purgar….”.

Translated from Greek into Latin, the short treatise in the Plutarchan corpus entitled De liberis educandis is the only complete Greek work on education that is extant. Although the treatise is no longer considered to be by the pen of Plutarch, it probably belongs to Plutarch’s time, because it shares educational principles with Plutarch, as well as with Quintilian and Theophrastus. Berry notes (following Jaeger) that its influence is still alive today: “the three elements of education (nature, learning, and practice) [which] entered by way of this work into Latin thought” (p. 387). He goes on to note that the author of De liberis educandis …emphasizes the importance of philosophical training, “which is the head and front of all education” (p. 389). The work had a significant influence on pedagogy in the Renaissance.

Guarino de Verona (called Veronese) was an Italian humanist teacher, scholar, and translator (b. 1370, at Verona, d. 1460, at Ferrara). Having studied Latin as a youth, he went to Constantinople, where he studied Greek under Manuel Chrysoloras. He taught in Florence, Venice, Verona, Ferrara, and other Italian cities, and students flocked from all over Italy and abroad to listen to him. He became the tutor of Lionello d’Este in 1429, and he was then appointed professor of rhetoric in the University of Ferrara (1436). A master of Greek and Latin (Guarino had brought 50 Greek manuscripts back to Venice from Constantinople), he wrote several grammatical treatises, translations from the Greek such as De liberis educandis, and commentaries on the works of various classical authors. He also composed an elementary Latin grammar, and he brought out a widely popular Latin version of the catechism of Greek grammar by Chrysoloras. His translations included works by Strabo, Plutarch, Lucan, and Isocrates. He also collected Latin manuscripts, works by Pliny, Cicero, and Celsus.

He dedicated De liberis educandis to his student Angelo Corbinelli (d. 1419, in Florence), who was a prominent merchant and humanist. In 1410-1414, Corbinelli frequented Guarino’s lectures at the University of Florence and subsequently carried on a correspondence with him. In this correspondence, Guarino pays homage to Corbinelli; he promises his student a Latin translation of Plutarch’s De liberis educandis and praises him for the care he has taken with the education of his children (see Sabbadini, I, 15-16; 168-169; Martines, p. 318-319; Bec,, 1967, p. 299).

In the absence of a modern edition, which would require a thorough study of the existing manuscripts, there is no complete list of the extant manuscripts (see Cremaschi, describing three copies in Bergamo,1959, pp. 272-73; and the unpublished thesis of Pacella, 1997). De Ricci lists three manuscripts in North American collections (p. 559, University of Chicago, MS 35; p. 818, Walters Art Gallery, W. 373; and p. 982, Harvard University Library, MS lat. 49), to which MS 313, Yale University, Beinecke Library, should be added. The first printed edition is Venice, Christopher Valdarfer, c. 1471 (Goff P-821).


Armstrong, L. "Usury, Conscience and Public Debt", in A Renaissance of Conflicts: Visions and Revisions of Law and Society in Italy and Spain, 2004 [Corbinelli’s last will and testament].

Bec, Christian. Les marchands écrivains à Florence, 1375-1434, Paris, 1967 [EPHE, VIe section / Civilisations et Sociétés, 9].

Behr, G. Die handschriftliche Grundlage der im Corpus der Plutarchischen Morali uberlieferten Schrift περί παίδων άγωγής, Diss Würzburg, 1911.

Berry, E. G. “The De liberis educandis of Pseudo-Plutarch”, in Harvard Studies in Classical Philology, 63 (1953), pp. 387-399.

Blum, R.. La biblioteca della Badia Fiorentina e i codici di Antonio Corbinelli, Città del Vaticano, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, 1951 (Studi e testi, 155).

Cremaschi, G. “Testi umanistici in codici della biblioteca civica di Bergamo,” Aevum, 33 (1959), p. 269-273.

Faure, D. L’éducation selon Plutarque d’après les “Œuvres morales”, Aix-en-Provence, 1960.

García López, J. “Educación y crítica literaria en la helenidad tardía: el De liberis educandis, atribuido a Plutarco,” in Unidad y pluralidad en el mundo antiguo. Actas del del VI Congreso Español de Estudios Clásico, II, Madrid, 1983, pp. 83-99

Ippolito, Gennaro d’, “Plutarco pseudepigrafo”, in L’eredità culturale di Plutarco dall’antichità al rinascimento. Atti del VII Convegno Plutacheo, Milano-Gagnano, 28-30 maggio 1997, M. d’Auria editore in Napoli, 1998.

Jaeger, W. Paideia: The Ideals of Greek Culture, Oxford, 1946.

Martines, L. The Social World of the Florentine Humanists, 1390-1460, London, 1963.

Molho, A. “Corbinelli, Angelo,” in Dizionario biografico degli Itagliani, vol. 28, p. 745.

Pacella, M.C. “Richerche sul De liberis educandis dello Pseudo-Plutarco,” tesi di Laurea, Università Statale di Milano,1997.

Plutarque. Traités sur l’education, intro. and trans.duction et traduction by Danièle Houpert-Merly, Paris, 1995.

Sabbadini, R., ed. Epistolario di Guarino Veronese, III, Venice, 1919, pp. 15-16; pp. 168-169.

Online resources

On Yale University, Beinecke Library, MS 312

On the reception of Plutarch in Italy