52 Weeks of Inspiring Illustrations, Week 9: Piero Valeriano’s menagerie of symbols (Hieroglyphica, 1556)

by bibliodeviant

Echoes from the Vault

This week’s illustration post comes straight out of a very close-knit circle of Renaissance Italian humanists working in the 16th century, however the story begin in 15th century Greece. Cristoforo Buondelmonti, an Italian geographer and monk from Florence, visited many of the Greek islands between 1414 and 1430. In 1422, during one of his returns to his home, Buondelmonti brought back the only known manuscript copy of Horapollo’s Hieroglyphica, a compendium of interpretations of hieroglyphs. Previously, Horapollo’s work was known only by references in a 10th century Byzantine encyclopaedia called the Suda. The manuscript of Hieroglyphica (which is now kept in the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana) was very popular amongst a very small circle of Florentine Humanists, which included Aldus Manutius and Giorgio Valla. In 1505, Manutius included Valla’s Greek translation of Hieroglyphica in a collection of fables and stories.

Piero Valeriano

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