1595, Florence: DOMENICO MANZANI

During the general meeting of the Crusca Academy 29 August 1590, Giambatista Deti proposed that a corrected text of the Divine Comedy was a necessary prerequisite for the compilation of the projected Vocabolario. Between November 1591 and July 1594 the academicians collated Bembo's Aldine 1502 edition against approximately 100 manuscripts, including forty from the Laurentian library, fifty from private hands, one belonging to Luigi Alamanni (which had "Varchi's corrections based on seven manuscripts") and another belonging to Cosimo Bartoli (with variants from four other manuscripts). The responsibility of editing Dante fell to Giambatista Deti with the agreement that, "the academicians he asked to help were obligated to do so."

Printed in Florence by Domenico Manzani (active 1583-1606), also known as Domenico del Gatto (of the Cat) for his printer's mark, the Crusca edition presented emendations and variants with justifications for these in both the inside and outside margins. The edition also included a new diagram depicting Antonio Manetti's theories about the geography of Hell.

The Crusca Comedy appeared with 465 readings explicitly corrected vis-à-vis the Aldine, as well as many others tacitly introduced, bringing the total to approximately 650 variants, that is, six or seven for each canto. It represented the first concrete attempt at a modern critical edition. Unfortunately, the editors did not undertake the work with the clear criteria and scientific objectivity.They failed, for instance, to take into consideration many readings upon which almost the entire tradition had agreed, while sometimes they indicated in the margins readings which had only one manuscript as their authority. Often the preference for a given reading is arbitrary, motivated primarily by aesthetic considerations, with the authority of the manuscripts bearing only secondary importance.

That the academicians recognized the inadequacies of the results achieved is demonstrated by the decision, taken a few years later, to undertake a second edition of the Comedy through a new exploration of the manuscript tradition. This revised edition remained an unfulfilled promise however. In 1716 there appeared an edition "ridotta a miglior lezione dagli Accademici della Crusca," (newly corrected by the Crusca Academy) but the text was the same as that of 1595.