Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Emblem Book

A page of italic print with an ornamental border and a woodcut of an animal resembling a rat.
Andrea Alciato (1492-1550), distinguished humanist and legal scholar, launched a new genre, the emblem book, that combined classical epigrammatic poetry forms with themes from the medieval bestiary.  Emblem books proliferated throughout western Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries and were didactic, rather than devotional, in nature. Alciato’s Emblematum liber, as it was commonly known, was a best seller in both Reformation and Counter-Reformation countries and remains among the most reprinted books in history.  We recently acquired a 1576 edition from Lyon entitled, Diverse imprese accommodate a diverse moralita con versi che i loro significati dichiarano.... Tratte da gli Emblemi dell' Alciato with 180 woodcuts.

“In Adulatores,” or “On Flatterers,” compares the flatterer who “feeds on the wind of popular approval” with the chameleon, who “is always breathing in and out with open mouth the bodiless air on which it feeds” and takes on the appearance and coloration of those around it.

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