Massimi, also known as Pacifico d'Ascoli, an itinerant schoolteacher, wrote this work on versification in Florence in the 1480s, where it was published by Antonio Miscomini and dedicated to Jacopo Salviati (the dedication also appears at the end of this copy). The woodcuts include two hands with finger reckoning for measuring the quantity of syllables in both hexameters and pentameters, and the diagrams with volvelles were also used for this. "The longest arrow, inscribed as signatrix
, had to be set on the total number of syllables in a hexameter. Once this was done, the rest of the arrows automatically showed how many dactyls (the shortest arrow, marked as "-II", i.e., a long syllable and two short ones), spondees (the next arrow, marked with "- -", i.e., two long syllables), and long ("-") and short ("I") syllables there should be" (Svetlana Hautala, "De componendo hexametro et pentametro
: A device for computing syllables invented and published in 1485 by Pacifico Massimi (with the edition of the text)" in Humanistica Lovaniensia: Journal of Neo-Latin Studies
65 (2016), pp.49-94, p.56, and this edition p.70 as “non vidi”).
This mathematical solution to the problem of metrical mistakes would be reprinted in Erfurt in 1510, and again there in 1513, this time edited by the local schoolmaster Georg Bucer, who removed some of the original text and added his own about other metres. This Wittenberg edition reproduces Massimi's original text.
RARE: not in VD16; WorldCat records an incomplete copy at the Newberry Library, Chicago.