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The Symbolic Literature of the Renaissance

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[These pages are under construction. Contributions are welcome and will be acknowledged. For details see here]

Alberti, L.B. Sentenze 1462

An exposition of the Aurea Dicta of Pythagoras

Allott, Robert Wits Theatre of the Little World London: Nicholas Ling, 1599

--------------------Politeuphia, 1597

--------------------Wits Treasury, 1598

--------------------England's Parnassus London: 1600

--------------------Wisedoms Pallace, 1604

Anon Apophthegmata Patrum 4th Century

Sayings of the Christian fathers, a collection of monastic writings by early Christian writers also often known as the ‘Sayings of the Desert Fathers.’

Anon Fiore de Virtu Venice: Metheo Capcasa, 1493

The only known example of a work of this kind. Only known copy of this edition. This is the third of five editions on hand by Matteo Capcasa. There was a preceding edition of 14 July 1492 and a following edition of 3 June 1493.

Anon Florilegium gallicum   

Anon Florilegium Anglicum

Extracts from about 40 ancient authors in alphabetical order 

Anon Gesta Romanorum before 1300

Deeds of the Romans first printed 1472-1475 in Cologne 1st English Edition was in 1510 printed by Wynkin de Worde based on different group of manuscripts.

Anon Sentences morales Lyon: B. Rigaud, 1558

Aristotle Sententiae Paris: Marnef, 1558

Bacon, Francis Apophthegmes new and old London: Barret and Whitaker, 1625

First Ed. ‘Apophthegmes serve not for pleasure only and ornament but also for action and business’. From the Advancement of Learning: Bk II Ch XII

Barcklay, Sir Richard The Felicitie of Man London: 1598

Baldwyn Treatise of Morall Philosophie London: 1549

A collection of Sententiae. 24 Editions between 1549 and 1640.

du Bartas Sepmaines 1584

Jesuit book of spiritual sayings illustrated with pictures

Becon, Thomas Anthologia Lactantii Lyons: Baudin, 1558

Boaistuau, Pierre Theatrum Mundi 1566

Another edition London 1581 English translation by John Alday 1574

Baude, Henri Dictz moraulx pur faire tapisserie end 15th century

(Moral Sayings with which to make Tapistry)  It combined a picture with a moral poem, the different elements of the whole giving different glosses on the proverb.

Binet, Etienne Essais de merveilles de nature 1638 

Jesuit book of spiritual sayings illustrated with pictures

1657 edition

Bodenham, John Belvedere 1600

A commonplace book

Brusoni, Lucio Facetiarum exemplorumque Basle 1559

<1560 edition

----------------------Rerum memorabolium Francofurti: Stein, 1600

Capilupi, Lelio Centones ex Virgilio Rome: Doricus, 1555

Centos praising the popes and addressing the political events of the time

Camden, William Remaines concerning Britaine London, 1605

First edition. A lighthearted manual containing expositions and lists of proverbs, devises, epigrams and other genres as they particularly concerned the British. For a copy of Gruter’s collection of proverbs see below.
2nd ed. 1614
3rd ed. 1623

4th ed. 1629
5th ed. London: Walters, 1637
6th ed. 1657
7th ed. 1674

Capilupi, L. Cento Vergilianus Zürich: Froschauer, 1546

Caxtons The Dictes and Sayings of the Philosophers 1477

This was supposedly the first dated book printed in England by Caxton in 1477, a translation of the Dits Moraulx des Philosophes, which incorporated quotations from classical philosophers and was a translation of an Arabic original, made by Guillaume de Tignonville at the turn of the 15th Century. The English translation was made by Earl Rivers, the brother in law of King Henry IV.

1877 edition

Corrozet Hecatomgraphie 1540

An emblem book subtitled contenans plusieurs appophthegmes proverbes, Sentences & dictz  

Corvinus A Belderen Digesta per Aphorismos Amsterdam: Elzevier, 1649

Dallington, Robert Aphorismes, Civil and Militarie London: Robert Allot, 1629

Domenico, Mirabelli Polyanthea Venezia, 1507

Second edition. First edition Savona, 1503

Doni, Anton Francesco Il Cancellieri Venice: Giolito, 1562
------------------------La zucca Venice: Sessa, 1565

Egenolff, Christian Anthologia Gnomica Frankfurt: S. Feyerabend, 1579

Elviden, Edmund The closet of counsels 1569

Two books of sentences and anecdotes

Erasmus, Desiderius Apophthegmatum ex optimis utriusque linguae scriptoribus Basle: 1531

Modelled on Plutarch’s Apophthegmata Laconica this was edited by Lycosthenes, the rather pretentious Latinized penname of Conrad Zwinger, and this latter version was used widely in Renaissance schools.
First English translation by Nicholas Udall, London: R. Grafton, 1542.
Second Ed. London: Kingston, 1564
Also: Paris: Arnold l'Angelier, 1555

See: Manutius, Paulus Apophthegmatum Venice: Zenari, 1583 - revision of Erasmus' Apophthegmata

-------------------------Apophthegmatum libri octo Cologne: Ioannes Gymnicus, 1538

------------------------De Copia 1512

How to construct a commonplace book. Another edition Horst, 1559

Estienne, Henry Apophthegmes des prince et de rois 1568

Also a Latin edition of the same year. Mostly apophthegms from Plutarch and Diogenes Laertius.

------------------------Anthologia Gnomica 1569

------------------------Anthologia Gnomica Frankfurt: Corvinum, 1579

------------------------Comicorum Graecorum sententiae, id est gnomai Geneva: Estiene, 1569

------------------------Parodiae Morales 1575.

------------------------Sentences des Comiques grecs 1575

------------------------Virtutum encomia H. Stephanus, 1573

A common book with blank pages

Farnaby, Thomas Index Poeticus 1646

Gives a selection of books suitable for use in classrooms including a dozen Emblem books.  

Fiston, William The wellspring of wittie conceites London: 1584

Fenne, Thomas Fennes Frutes London: 1590

Foxe, John (1516- 1587) locorum communium tituli 1557

A commonplace book. Foxe was best known for his Book of English Martyrs: Day, 1563

Garimberto, Hieronimo Concetti Venice: Domenico Farri, 1567

A very popular C16 commonplace book

1585 edition

Gesta Romanorum Augsburg: Anton Sorg, 1487

Giraldi, Giambatista Cinzio Escatommiti 1565

Italian collection of moral and love tales

Greek Anthology

see Epigrams

Greene, Robert The Royal Exchange 1590

Grosnez, Pierre Motz Dorez

A Collection of ballads, proverbs, distichs and other forms

Gruter, Jan Florilegium ethicopoliticum Frankfurt 1610-1612

Collection of proverbs copied in English by Camden see Camden above

Haechthanus, Laurentius Mikrokosmos 1579

The basis of some of Peachams emblems.

Harsdorffer, G.P Frauenzimmer Gesprachspiele 1642

A multivolume work describing social activities of the time including games involving emblems.  

Heidfeld, Johann Sphinx Theologica-Philosophica Herbern: 1600

At least 13 editions--the last in 1772 a translation into German and Dutch. A book of aphorisms and riddles.

Hibernia Thomas of, Manipulus Florum or Flores Doctorum Antwerp: Johannes Bellerus, 1576

The original manuscript has been lost was completed in 1306 and it is now recognized that John Waleys had no part in it. The earliest manuscripts which survive (in the Bibliotheque Nationale) are B.N. lat. 15986 and B.N. lat. 15985 This was a collection of sayings of the church fathers and classical authors. It was used by Quarles as a source for material for his emblem book. See Rouse and Rouse *CLN

Homeric Centos Venice: Aldus, 1505

Reissued in 1541 and 1544. Contains the cento of the Empress Eudocia. Now, according to Renousard, 'infinitely rare and precious'.

Homeric Centos Henry Estienne, 1578

In addition to the cento of the Empress Eudocia this includes the Virgilian cento of Proba, a Greek paraphrase of the Gospel of St. John by the Egyptian Nonnus and, in come copies, proverbial phrases extracted from Homer

Laertius, Diogenes De Vitis, dogmatis and apophthegmatis Geneva: Estienne, 1570

1664 edition

Lagnerius Ciceronis Sententiae 1546

Many editions including English

Lang, Joseph Florilegium Magnum siue Polyanthea Strasburg: 1598

Another edition, Lyons: 1604; Frankfurt: 1607; Geneva: 1608

Ling, Nicholas Politeuphuia: Wits Commonwealth London: 1597

Published by John Bodenham

Loinus, Johannes Gnomologiae, sive sententiae collectaneae, et similia Demosthenes Basilea: 1552

Lycosthenes Apophthegmata Basle: 1555

London and Paris editions in 1579 but see also Erasmus.
Another ed. Paris: Jacobum du Puys, 1581
Another ed. Stoer, 1594.
Another ed. Lyon: Antoine de Harsy, 1573.
And yet another ed. Cologne: Erben, 1618.

Manuzio, Paolo. Apophthegmatum Venice: Manutius, 1577

Marbecke, John A Book of Notes and Commonplaces London : 1581

Menage, Gilles Menagiana Amsterdam: Harrevelt, 1762

First printed in 1693

Another edition Paris: Pieree Delaulne, 1694

Meres, Francis Palladis Tamia 1598

The second part of Wits Commonwealth; a commonplace book with quotations and similitudes from 125 English writers, published by John Bodenham.

Meursius, J. Miscellanea Laconica Utrecht, D. van Ackersdyck, 1663

Mirabelli, Nani Polyanthea Venice, 1507

First edition 1503.   

1546 edition

Mirandula Flores Poets 1566 

A collection of  extracts from a wide variety Latin authors.
1st edition Cologne: 1480.
Another edition Cologne: 1490.
Another edition Strasbourg: Rihel, 1559
Another edition Lyons: Tornaesium, 1570
Another edition Venice: 1507
Another edition Lyons: 1512
Other editions Paris: 1513, 1538, 1539, 1565, 1574, 1582, 1585, 1586, 1588, 1611
Other editions London: Greed, 1598; London: Johnson, 1611

Antwerp: Bellorum, 1563

Mishnah Sententiae [bound with] Ben Sira Sententiae morales Allgäu: Fagius, 1541-2

De Montagnone Hierenias Compendium moralium notabilum (1300 –1310) 

Compilation of sayings, fables and proverbs  Printed in 1505.

Munday, Anthony Belvedere 1597

Published by John Bodenham

Parinchef, John An extracte of examples 1572

Patricius Homerici Centones Geneva: Henri Estienne, 1578

Henri Estienne's collection of centos

Paulet, William The lord marques idleness London: 1586

Peacham, Henry Garden of Eloquence 1577 and 1593

Pellegrini, Carlo Museum Historico-legale Bipartitum 1665

An encyclopaedia of the Music of the Spheres

1697 edition

Petrus, Lombardus Sententiarum Libri IIII, Iohannes Aleaume, ed. Paris: Audoenus Parvus, 1557

Platt, Sir Hugh Manuale Sententias London: 1594 ed. Neander

Plutarch Apophthegmata Geneva: Estienne, 1568

Poliziano, A. Detti piacevoli 1482

Potocki, Waclaw Moralica aboRzeczy ms. 1694-6

Moralia or Maxims from Latin or Polish parables

Posselius Apophthegmata ex Plutarcho Wittenberg: 1595

Another edition Frankfurt: 1616

Proba, Valeria Virgiliocentones Venice: Benalius, c1510

The principal work of the famous Roman poetess bringing together Roman poetry with Christian Bible texts.

Pythagoras and others Poemata Pythagorae 1539 ed. Neander

A collection of the sayings of many Greek authors including the Carmina Aurea of Pythagoras

---------------------- Aurea Pythagoreorum carmina Paris: heirs of Guillaume Morel, 1585

Hierocles of Alexandria. Commentarius in aurea Pythagoreorum carmina. Greek text and Latin translation by Joannes Curterius.

Rabelais, Francois Aphorismorum Hippocratis Lyons: Gryphius, 1532

Second edition. 1543. Edited by Rabelais; translated by others.

Reusner Polyanthia sive Paradisus poeticus 1577

Another edition. 1579.

Used as a basis for Whitney’s Emblems See Whit 243 

---------------------Symbolorum imperatorium 1588-1602

A collection of extracts, adages and sayings associated with the Roman Emperors.

de Richeome, Louis Tableaux sacrez 1601

First of French Jesuit books which consisted of a series of spiritual truths illustrated by pictures.  In the ecphrastic and emblematic tradition

-----------------------La Peinture spirituelle 1611 (B)

Robson, Simon The choise of change London 1585

Ruland, Martin Synonyma, seu, Copia verborum graecorum Lyons: Lertout, 1585

1594 edition

Ronsseus, Balduinus De hominis primordiis centones Louvain: Bergainge, 1559

Centos describing the human body

Sandaeus Aviarium Marianum, 1628

------------------------Maria Flos Mysticum 1629

Two books about the bird and flower symbols associated with the Virgin Mary and the source for Hawkins emblem book Partheneia Sacra 

Scaliger, Catalecta Virgilii et vetorum Poetarum 1573

Scaliger has been described by one commentator as ‘perhaps the greatest scholar of all time’. The Catalecta of Virgil were a selection of short pieces in different metres.

1617 edition

Shirley, John The Triumph of Wit London: N. Boddyngton, 1707

First edition 1688. Eighth edition 1724

1546 edition

Sandaeus Theologica Symbolica Mainz: Schoenwettii, 1626

Sandford, James The Garden of Pleasure 1573

A translation of the work of Lodovico Guicciardini 

Schott, Andreas Adages Antwerp: Plantin, 1612

A translation of the proverbs of Diogenianus of about 100 AD

Stobaeus more

Volume 1 Books 1 and II – Eclogues

Libri duo: Quorum prior Physicas, posterior Ethicas complectitur; Antwerp: Plantin, 1575

First edition of the Eclogues translated into Latin by Wilhem Canter, from a manuscript in the library of the Hungarian humanist, Joannes Sambuchus and a manuscript of Sirlet

J. Stobaei Sermones Leipzig: 1797

Edited by N. Schow

Eclogarum physicarum et ethicarum libri duo Gottingen: Heeren, 1792 – 1801

Printed in Greek and Latin

Florilegium Oxford Clarendon Press, 1822

4 volumes, edited by Thomas Gaisford

Florilegium Leipzig: Kühn, 1823-24

A reprint of the previous edition Greek, edited by Thomas Gaisford to which has been added Lectiones Stobaeeenses Jena: 1827 edited by Jacobs with a letter to Aug. Meineke

Eclogarum physicarum et ethicarum libri duo Oxford: Parker, 1850

2 volumes, edited by Thomas Gaisford

Florilegium Leipzig: Tauchnitz 1858

3 volumes

Florilegium Leipzig: Teubner, 1860-64

4 volumes edited Aug. Meineke

Volume 2 Books 3 and 4 - Sentences

Apophthegmata Rome: Mazochium, 1517

1st Latin translation by Varinus Camers, the tutor of Pope Leo X.

Collectiones Sententiarum Venice: Zanetti, 1535

Editio Princeps. Printed in Greek, with a Greek title Eclogai apophthegmaton ed. Victor Trincavello. All commentators say that this edition is full of errors.

Sententiae Zurich: Froschauer, 1543

Printed in Greek and Latin, trans. by Conrad Gessner

Sententiae Basle: Froschauer, 1549

Printed in Greek and Latin. Graesse says this edition is by Oporinus. 2nd (?) edition of Gessner’s trans. Apparently Gessner had obtained the Mendoza ms (see Arnott below) by this time but did not profit from it in correcting the errors of his previous edition.

Scharpffsinniger Sprüche Basle: Oporinus, 1551

1st German trans.

Sententiae Paris, Juvenem, 1552

1st French printing of Gessner's trans.

Sententiae Lyons: Gryphius, 1555

2 vols of Gessner’s trans. dated 1553

Sententiae Paris: Juvenem, 1557

2 books in 1 volume

Sententiae Paris: Perler, 1557

Sententiae Paris: Cavellat, 1557

Sententiae ex thesauris Graecorum delectae Zurich: Froschauer, 1559

Greek and Latin edition. Third edition of Gessner’s trans.

Loci Communes Frankfurt: Wechel, 1581

Greek and Latin. Another edition of Gessner’s trans. In both this and the following edition the sentences of Stobaeus are intermingled with those of Melissa, a Greek monk, whose collection resembles the Stobaeus.

Sentences and Sermones Geneva: 1609

Graesse says this edition is Lyons: Frellon, 1608 though there may be two editions.

Combined Volumes 1 and II

Stobaei sententiae Geneva: Fabro, 1609

First edition to reunite both volumes. The Eclogues are copied from Antwerp 1575 and the Sentences from Frankfurt 1581.

Ioannis Stobaei Anthologium Berlin: Wachsmuth-Hense, 1884-1912

5 vol. (critical edition)


Senarii Graecanici quingenti Antwerp: Knoblouch, 1515

Greek and Latin. Extracts from Stobaeus. According to Brunet an ‘opuscule’, a small work.

Senarii proverbiales Antwerp: Knoblouch, 1521

Greek and Latin, another edition

Sententiae ex Stobaeo c1530

Recorded in Adams as having a ‘Running Headline’ with 85 folios

Gnomologia Graeco-Latina Basle: Oporinus, 1557

Excerpts edited by Michael Neander

---------------- Gnomologikon Hellenikolatinon Basle: 1564

Excerpts edited by Michael Neander – possibly a reprint of the previous edition.

Dicta Poetarum Paris: Buon, 1623

Greek, extracts from Stobaeus, Plutarch and Basil the Great edited by Grotius

Les Apophtegmes Paris: Billaine, 1664

Collection of Apophthegms including Stobaeus translated by Nicolas Perrot

Textor, Ravisius  (d1524) Officina Venice: Inliarum, 1617

 A popular Latin grammar   

------------------------Epitheta 1518

1840 edition

A compilation like Stobaeus. One of the most universally scoured linguistic resources of the 16th Century’ (M 172 Ftnte). Another edition, Paris: 1580.

Theognis Sententiae Graecolatinae Leipzig: Schurer, 1603

Topsell, Edward The history of four footed beasts and serpents 1658

A compilation of animal symbolism in 3 volumes of which the 3rd was written by T. Muffet. Topsell also wrote The Fowles of Heaven or History of Birdes. The first printed edition of Topsell's manuscript of 1613-14, was not published until 1972. Topsell covered birds whose names begin with the letters A, B, and C. He never finished the manuscript, and was also unable to procure funding to have it published.

Udall, Nicholas Floures for Latin Speaking 1533

Subtitled ‘Gathered from Terence’

Valerius Maximus, Gaius Facta et dicta memorabilia Paris: Symonel, 1475

Another edition, Mainz: Schoeffer, 1546

------------------------Moralium exemplorum libri novem Venice: Bindoni & Pasini, 1546

Valla, L Dialecticae disputationes 1439  

Resurrected dialectic/rhetoric as opposed to logic 

Vaughan, Sir William The Golden Grove of civill discourses London: 1600

Second edition London: 1608

Whetstone, George An Heptameron of civil discourses London: 1582

Whichcote, Benjamin Several Discourses: Moral and Religious Aphorisms 1703

Whichcote is considered to be the father of the Cambridge Platonists

Wrednot, William Palladis Palatium The Fourth London: Burton 1604

Zwinger, Theodor Theatrum Humanae Vitae 1565

Revised and enlarged to 4,500 pages in 1586.

Part of Wits Commonwealth