Book of the Week — The Song of Roland


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“Mult ad apris ki bien conuist ahan.” (He has learned much who knows the pain of struggle.) — stanza CLXXXIV, line 2425, Song of Roland

The Song of Roland
Cambridge, MA: The Riverside Press, 1906
PQ1521 E5 B8 1906

The Song of Roland is a French epic dating from about 1040 to 1115CE. It recounts the chivalric and heroic deeds of Charlemagne, based on the historical but minor eighth century battle of Roncevaux. Roland was a nephew of Charlemagne. The author of the legend is unknown, although his name may have been Turoldus. The epic is considered the first masterpiece of literature in the French vernacular, written as a medieval chanson de geste (song of deeds) in four thousand lines. In spite of, or perhaps because of, its status in French literature, it was not translated into English until the late 19th century.

This edition was translated from Old French by Isabel Butler.

This edition was designed by Bruce Rogers, one of the great book designers of the twentieth century.  Seven illustrations derived from the compartments of the window of Charlemagne in the Cathedral de Chartres depict events in the legend of Roland. These have been drawn and printed and then colored by hand in  blues, reds, greens and yellows after the stained glass of the window. Five roundels are placed throughout the text. A large arched head-piece vignette tops the opening text as if a dome. The text is printed in double columns with marginal notes in brown and rubricated in gilt as page headings. The title-page is printed in red and black with a printer’s device in color.



Typefaces are French bâtarde and civilité. Bâtarde was a blackletter script used in France, the Burgundian Netherlands and Germany in the 14th and 15th centuries. The script was a decorative chancery or legal hand dating from the 13th century. Civilité is a type designed by Robert Granjon as a response to the Italian italic. Granjon based the font on a cursive Gothic script. The typeface was first used in 1559 for a book on manners written for children by Desiderius Erasmus.


Printed on American handmade paper. Bound in quarter vellum over printed boards in a fleurs-de-lys pattern taken from paintings in the crypt at Chartres. To achieve an antiqued effect, Rogers rubbed a red paste wash over the printed paper.


Bruce Rogers (1870-1957) was born in Indiana. As a young man, he moved to Boston, where, in 1895, he began working at the Riverside Press, a printing department of the Houghton, Mifflin publishing company. Rogers began designing trade books. In 1900, a Department of Special Bookmaking was created for the production of fine press editions, with Rogers in charge. He designed more than four hundred books during his career. Of those, he chose thirty (Roger’s Thirty), at the request of an interviewer,  that he considered successful book works. The Song of Roland was one of his choices.

George Mifflin, the head of Houghton, Mifflin was so proud of Roland that he sent a copy to then-President Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt was so impressed he visited the press to look at other of Rogers’ works. He wrote, “…it seemed to me far ahead, and almost like some of the very beautiful printing[s]…at the end of the Fifteenth Century.”

Edition of two hundred and twenty copies.



A Noble Genealogy — Happy Birthday, Philip the Fair


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“Here follow some chronicles excerpted from some ancient registers and other teachings of certain ancient kings, princes and several holy persons from the very noble and ancient house of Burgundy.”

Quaternio verlag Luzern, 2015
DC611 HB776 F5 2015

Facsimile. The Flemish Chronicles was produced in 1485/86 in Bruges for Philip, the heir to the House of Burgundy, who was just seven years old at the time. The Chronicles is a history of Burgundy illustrated with eleven large miniatures depicting historical events, idyllic nature scenes and scenes at court. The text is minimal, as would befit the beginning reading capacity of a child.

“Theodoric, King of Burgundy, defeated Chlothar, second King of this name of France, in battle in the year 605 after the resurrection of Our Lord. 30,000 men were then killed. During this battle an angel was seen holding a naked sword above the people. And at that time the said Theoderic conquered all the land situated between the rivers Seine and Oise, as it is written in detail in the chronicles of France.”

Like any children’s book, the images were intended to overtake the text. In this case, the images announce the importance of the dynasty Philip was to inherit. The Duchy of Burgundy ended with the death of Charles the Bold in 1477. Louis XI of France pounced on the Burgundian lands, but the economically powerful Flanders rebelled. Charles’ daughter Mary, in an effort to avoid catastrophe, married the son of the Holy Roman Empire, Maximilian of Austria, three months after her father’s death.

“Frederick, who since that time was Emperor, and who was a brother of the said King Boson, despite his young age recovered all the land of Burgundy and a part of the German lands.
Otto, by grace of God palatine count of Burgundy, was a son of the said Frederick, and he died in the year 1191, on the 26th day of June.
Jeanne, daughter of the said Otto, whose body lies in the church of Saint-Stephen of Besancon, was wife of the Emperor and lady of Burgundy.
Otto, by the grace of God Duke of Merania and palatine count of Burgundy, of Macon, and of Vienne was a son of the said Jeanne, who formerly claimed the Kingdom of Burgundy, and founded the canons of Poligny, who since then were transferred to Dole. And at that time, out of spite, the Kingdom of Burgundy was turned into a Duchy.”

Their son, Philip, was born on June 22 in Bruges. Mary died in an accident in 1482.

“From the said Philip the Bold descended John the Fearless Duke of Burgundy, most victorious and most Christian prince who fought the Turks in Hungary, and died at Montereau-Fault-Yonne in the year 1419. His tomb is in the Carthusian church at Dijon.”

The Flemish territories refused to recognize Maximilian as regent for his son. Ghent and Bruges rebelled. In 1485 Maximilian took Philip to Mechelen, where his grandmother, Margaret of York, raised him.

This chronicle, written and produced for Philip, featured a century of his Burgundian ancestors. This is an unusual book for its time, made especially for a child. The chronicler, Olivier de la Marche, was Philip’s tutor. The chronicle sets the Burgundian throne within a thousand year-old history, beginning in 14CE and ending just after the death of Philip’s mother. In this setting, the Burgundian ancestors were placed alongside Mary Magdalene (who purportedly baptized the first Burgundian king), the knight Girart de Roussillon, Bernard of Clairvaux, Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa and the Burgundian dukes from Philip the Bold on.

Flanders was a bevy of wealthy commercial cities at this time. Bruges and Ghent had a concentration of talented and well-funded illuminators. These cities became the center of European manuscript illumination in the second half of the fifteenth century. In this highly competitive atmosphere, Master of Edward IV operated a flourishing workshop. One of his assistants created the miniatures and border art for The Flemish Chronicles.

Facsimile edition of seven hundred and forty copies, sixty of which are hors de commerce. Rare Books copy is no. 134.


We Recommend — The Theophilus Legend in Medieval Text & Image


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“The legend’s popularity is a tribute to its ability to make the plight of individual salvation tangible and visible at a time when that salvation must seem highly uncertain.” — from the Introduction

The Theophilus Legend in Medieval Text & Image
Jerry Root
Cambridge: D. S. Brewer, 2017
PN687 Ts R66 2017

From the publisher’s website: “The legend of Theophilus stages an iconic medieval story, its widespread popularity attesting to its grip on the imagination. A pious clerk refuses a promotion, is demoted, becomes furious and makes a contract with the Devil. Later repentant, he seeks out a church and a statue of the Virgin; she appears to him, and he is transformed from apostate to saint. It is illustrated in a variety of media: texts, stained glass, sculpture, and manuscript illuminations.
Through a wide range of manuscript illuminations and a selection of French texts, the book explores visual and textual representations of the legend, setting it in its social, cultural and material contexts, and showing how it explores medieval anxieties concerning salvation and identity. The author argues that the legend is a sustained meditation on the power of images, its popularity corresponding with the rise of their role in portraying medieval identity and salvation, and in acting as portals between the limits of the material and the possibilities of the spiritual world.”

Jerry Root is Associate Professor of French and Comparative Literature in the Department of World Languages and Culture at The University of Utah.

The Rare Books Department has facsimiles of two of the medieval manuscripts Prof. Root worked with for his book.

Graz: Akademische Druck- u. Verlagsanstalt, 1985
ND3357 I5 D4 1985

Facsimile. Produced around 1195 in northeastern France, the Ingeborg Psalter is written in Latin with two flyleafs of inscriptions in French. The illuminations in this work represent a turning point in the history of European painting, when artists left behind abstract and highly stylized forms in favor of a more naturalistic representation of the world. The three-dimensional qualities of the figures, their proportions, and their expressive movements stand out as essential innovative elements in the emerging Gothic style of the early 1200’s. The manuscript is named after its first owner, Ingeborg, a Danish princess and spouse of King Philip II of France, who was expelled by her husband for unknown reasons shortly after their wedding. The beginnings of the psalms are rubricated with ornamental initials. Some of the psalms are illuminated with ornate figural initials depicting scenes from the life of David. A large number of elaborate miniatures of a decisively new style and design greatly influenced the art of illumination in the Gothic period. The illuminations depict episodes from the lives of Abraham and Moses, followed by the root of Jesse marking the transition between the Old and New Testaments. Further illuminations are based on themes taken from the life of Christ. Finally, scenes from the legend of Theophilus are depicted. In this popular medieval epic, the sinner Theophilus devotes himself to the Devil and is saved by the Virgin Mary, thus introducing the Faustian motif for the very first time. Bound in embossed leather. Edition of five hundred copies. University of Utah copy is no. 396.

Homage to the Devil, Prayer to the Vigin, Retrieval and Return of Contract

Stuttgart: Muller & Schindler, 1990
BS2822.5 L35 M67 1990

Facsimile. This manuscript was likely commissioned by Lady Eleanor de Quincy, Countess of Winchester (ca. 1230-74), daughter of William III, Earl Ferrers of Derby (1200-1254). It was produced circa 1252-67, probably in London. Eleanor is depicted in one of the illuminations that serve as a visual appendix to the book. St. John’s revelatory vision of the end of the world was a popular subject for medieval illustration, given the emotionally powerful images of clashing armies of angels and demons and terrestrial and celestial upheaval evoked by the text. Seventy-eight miniatures include the Dragon being cast into Hell (Rev. 20:9-10) and Christ sitting in Final Judgment (Rev. 20:11-15). The text, in Jerome’s Latin Vulgate, includes extracts from an eleventh century theological commentary on the Book of Revelations. Illuminated Apocalypses were fashionable in England when this manuscript was produced. The commentary was added to ensure that the reader was correctly guided through an understanding of the biblical symbolism. Illuminations helped with this guidance, but they also served as a statement on the owner’s social position. The more lavish the production, the more prominent the owner, or, at least, the more wealthy. The book was intended to educate, but also to entertain.

Theophilus goes to the Jewish intermediary: pays homage to the Devil

Virgin takes back contract, hellmouth; Return of contract

Prayer to the Virgin; Virgin consults Christ

Rare Books Goes to Detroit!


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“That which is not said aloud often speaks louder (and, in instances, clearer) than that which is.” — from The Cave Protection Act of 2013

Emily Tipps, Program Manager and Instructor for the Book Arts Program is presenting a paper at the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment biennual conference, June 20-24, in Detroit, Michigan. The paper examines three artists’ books from the Rare Books Department.

Emily writes:
“The artists’ book is uniquely positioned to articulate narratives of environmental devastation. The power of this diverse medium stems from its rich permutation of form, image, text, texture, scale, and materiality. I examine artists’ books that address particular instances of traumatic environmental change.

Lin Charlston’s Fragment by Fragment: Signs of the Peat Bog Disperse into the Wind is a meditation on a fire that irreversibly damaged a Welsh peat bog. Charlston employs color, a landscapte format, and an attentive typeface derived from fragments of peat exposed by the fire and dispersed by wind — phenomena which scarred the landscape and the ecosystem.


The Ground by Tate Shaw positions a personal essay detailing the author’s practice of burying and recovering a book — an act of experiment and catharsis — in the ground in rural Pennsylvania, the site of former coal mines and a current center for hydrofracking. The book’s ink jet-printed plates are treated with water to wash out certain areas — a process echoing the erosion of the landscape.


The Cave Protection Act of 2013 by Michelle Ray, concerns the town of Centralia, Pennsylvania, where underground fires (a result of mining) opened sink holes into which the town disappeared. The book examines the sense of identity this disappearance gave the community. The book’s visual language is derived from the dryness of a government document, while its structure deals in negative space, holes opening in the pages, and the oulines of houses overlapping like ghosts or the framing of a new subdivision.

Using slides and physical books, I’ll take a closer look at these and other books, which are so effective in conveying tangible and intangible effects environmental destruction can have on individuals, communities, and ecosystems.”

For more about this conference see Rust/Resistance: Works of Recovery.

To read these books go to the Special Collections Reference Room, L4, J. Willard Marriott Library, The University of Utah and ask for:

Charlston, Lin. Fragment by Fragment: Signs of the Peat Bog Disperse into the Wind. Shropshire: Charlston Books, 2011 N7433.4 C435 F7 2011
Shaw, Tate.
The Ground.
Rochester, NY: Preacher’s Biscuite Books, 2013 N7433.4 S5416 G76 2013
Ray, Michelle. The Cave Protection Act of 2013. Small Craft Advisory Press and formLab, 2013 N7433.4 R395 C38 2013

Photographs by Scott Beadles

Book of the Week — Bashārat Yasuʻ al-Masīḥ kamā kataba Mār Mattay waḥid min ithnay ‘ashar min talāmīdhihi


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“Ne arbitremini quod ego uenetim ut mitterem super terram pacem; non ueni ut mitterem pacem, sed gladium (“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.)” — Matthew 10:34

Bashārat Yasuʻ al-Masīḥ kamā kataba Mār Mattay waḥid min ithnay ‘ashar min talāmīdhihi
Romae: in Typographia Medicea, MDXCI
Edicio princeps
BS315 A66 1591

Bashārat Yasuʻ al-Masīḥ, the first printed edition of the Gospels in Arabic, is the first production by the Typographia Medicea press, a printing house established by Pope Gregory XIII and Cardinal Ferdinando de’ Medici in order to promote and distribute Christian scripture to the Near East. Two issues of this work were printed, apparently simultaneously. One had Arabic-only text and was printed in an edition of 4,000 copies. The other, here, was printed in Arabic with interlinear Latin, in an edition of 3,000 copies. The Arabic-only edition has the date 1590 on the title-page, but 1591 in the colophon. Allegedly, a few of the bi-lingual copies were published with a preliminary leaf stating, “Sanctum Dei evangelium arab.-lat.” No known copies of this half-title are known to exist and this leaf may never have existed.

With a Latin translation ascribed to one Antonius Sionita, the book was edited by Giovanni Battista Raimondi (1540-ca. 1614), an esteemed Orientalist and professor of mathematics at the College of Sapienza in Rome. Raimondi travelled extensively in the Near East and was knowledgeable, if not fluent, in Arabic, Armenian, Syrian and Hebrew. His fame rests with the editorship of the Typographica Medicea. He and French typographer Robert Granjon, who created the Arabic font used in this work, were both recognized then and now for the earliest and best attempts to print Arabic in Europe.

Illustrated with 149 woodcuts, printed from 68 blocks, engraved by Leonardo Parasole (ca. 1587-ca. 1630). The artist, Antonio Tempesta (1555-1630), studied under Santi di Tito and Flemish artist Joannes Stradanus at the Accademia del Disgno. Tempesta later worked with Stradanus and Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574) on the interior decoration of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. Tempesta then travelled to Rome, where he fulfilled several commissions, including frescoes for Pope Gregory XIII in the Vatican and panel paintings for the Villa Farnese. Many of the woodcuts are signed with the initials “AT” (Antonio Tempesta) and “LP” (Leonardo Parasole). The illustrations in Bashārat Yasuʻ al-Masīḥ are excellent examples of Tempesta’s work, noteworthy for their clear composition and narrative of the episodes depicted.

Be that as it may, the illustrations may have played a part in the failure of this book to reach, let alone convince, its intended Islamic audience. Islam forbade religious illustration and these may have made the Gospels appear less than sacred, if not sacrilegious, to Arab Muslim readers.

To be fair, the Christian church had a long tradition of presenting their message with religious illustrations. As far back as the sixth century, Pope Gregory defended the value of such imagery, arguing that pictures were useful for teaching the faith to the unconverted and for conveying sacred stories to the illiterate. According to Bede, St. Augustine introduced Christianity to the heathen King Ethelbert of Kent, upon landing on the British Isles, by presenting a picture of Christ painted on a wooden panel. He then began to preach.

The Pope seems also to have denied the fact that more Christians lived in the Ottoman Empire than in any other European state. The first printed book in Arabic was a Book of Hours, probably intended for export to Syrian Christians. But these Christians were adherents to the Eastern Orthodox Church, not the Pope’s Roman Catholic Church. Christianity was hardly unknown in the predominantly Muslim Ottoman and Persian Empires. The Ottomans were, however, Christian Europe’s major military and political concern.

In addition to printing the Gospels in Arabic, Ferdinando de’ Medici charged Raimondi with printing “all available Arabic books on permissable human science which had no religious content in order to introduce the art of printing to the Mohamedan community.” Despite the superb quality — textually, typographically, and artistically — of its work, the Medici press was an economic failure and went bankrupt in 1610. The fact is that Raimondi displayed little understanding of Islamic culture. Although Raimondi’s selection of publications was not aimed at European scholars, his choices stimulated a study of the Near East in Europe.

It would be more than a century after the Medici Press closed that Ibrahim Muteferrika, a Hungarian convert to Islam, was given permission by Sultan Ahmed III (1673-1736) to open his printing house in Istanbul, in 1729. This was not the first printing press established in the Near East, but it was the first Eastern press to print in Arabic using movable type.

Arabic and small roman type text within double-ruled borders. Colophon and printer’s note to reader in Latin. Colophon decorated with large woodcut arabesque.

Rare Books copy bound in full, eighteenth century, sprinkled calf, with a gilt spine containing two burgundy morocco labels, and decorative gilt borders on the covers. The first leaf is shaved and reinserted on contemporary paper. This leaf contains four Waqf stamps, indicating the authentication of the Arabic translation. As in most copies, our copy lacks a title page. A former owner’s penciled inscription, “Alessio Dra Saggeto/en Aleppo 1871,” is on the free front end paper. Another signature, in ink, is at the top of the back free end paper.

For more on the woodcuts, see Field, Richard S. Antonio Tempesta’s Blocks and Woodcuts for the Medicean 1591 Arabic Gospels, NE662 T45 F54 2001, in the rare book collections.


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Book of the Week — [اختصار مختصر المقاصد الحسنة]


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‘kabīkaj, kabīkaj, kabīkaj, yā kabīkaj iḥfaẓ al-waraq’

اختصار مختصر المقاصد الحسنة
زرقاني، محمد بن عبد الباقي
1168 [1754]
Ms Or. 12.48

An abridgement of Muḥammad ibn ʻAbd al-Bāqīal-Zurqānī’s Mukhtaṣar, itself an abridgement of al-Sakhāwī’s al-Maqāṣid al-ḥasanah, a collection of ḥadīth; the present work is anonymous, but al-Jabartī (in ʻAjāʼib al-āthār, ed. Ḥasan Muḥammad Jawhar et al., [al-Qāhirah]: Lajnat al-Bayān al-ʻArabī, 1958-9; v. 1, p. 176) informs us that al-Zurqānī summarized his own abridgement “fī naḥw kurrāsayn bi-ishārat wālidihi”; the present work would seem to fit that description; an extract is also listed by Brockelmann (GAL II:35).

Naskhī in a trembling hand; rubrications; 25 lines/p; corrections and notes on the margins; title and invocation against bookworms (‘kabīkaj, kabīkaj, kabīkaj, yā kabīkaj iḥfaẓ al-waraq’) on fol. 1a; one folio missing after fol. 7; laid paper; watermark: three thick crescents; unbound.

From the collection of Aziz Atiya (1898-1988.)


~~Thanks to Mark Muehlhausler for the catalog record and for bringing the curse against bookworms to my attention. LP

Seven Pillars of Wisdom — The Book that inspired the movie that inspired the art


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photographs by Scott Beadles. Artist’s statement: “I recall a movie from memory, something I had seen in my childhood, the memory indefinite. My grandfather sat next to me and pointed out the boundaries of the revolt on the map above the sofa, it was always the centerpiece of his discourse. I remember a vacant climate, a vast expanse that even at such a young age was perceptibly inhospitable. The images of the desert have stuck with me, though muddled by time, the purity of the landscape perpetual. In the reconstruction of a past memory, I photographed what I remember through the distance of time. The intent was of the images, to encapsulate a feeling. Shapshots of the Arabian desert, barbarous and beautiful.”

“Some of the evil of my tale may have been inherent in our circumstances.”
— T. E. Lawrence

Seven Pillars of Wisdom
T. E. Lawrence (1888-1935)
Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran & Company, Inc., 1935
D568.4 L4 1935

History of the printing of Seven Pillars:

“Text I — ‘…I lost it.’

Text II — ‘…All but one page of this text was burned by me in 1922.’


Privately Printed Texts
Oxford 1922
‘…eight copies were required. Five copies (bound in book form, for the convenience of those former members of the Hejaz Expeditionary Force who undertook to read it critically for me) have not yet (April 1927) been destroyed.’

Subscribers’ Text I. xii. 26
‘…Beginners in literature are inclined to fumble with a handful of adjectives round the outline of what they want to describe: but by 1924 I had learnt my first lesson in writing, and was often able to combine two or three of my 1921 phrases into one…The Seven Pillars was so printed and assembled that nobody but myself knew how many copies were produced. I propose to keep this knowledge to myself.’


Published Texts
New York Text
‘Ten copies are offered for sale, at a price high enough to prevent their ever being sold. No further issue of the Seven Pillars will be made in my lifetime.'”

–T. E. Lawrence


“To bring the information up to date, I add that the remaining copies of the Oxford printed Text of 1922 are still in existence, but will not be made public for at least ten years, and then only in a limited edition…The text of the present edition is identical with that of the thirty-guinea edition of 1926, except for the following omissions…necessary to save hurting the feelings of persons still living…” — A. W. Lawrence

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The movie that inspired the art.
Lawrence of Arabia
Burbank, CA: Columbia Tristar Home Video, 1002
PN1997 L38 2002 ARC

Originally produced as a motion picture in 1962. Directed by David Lean. Starring Alec Guinness, Anthony Quin, Jack Hawkins, Jose Ferrer, Anthony Quayle, Claude Rains, Arthur Kennedy, Omar Sharif, Peter O’Toole. Music composed by Maurice Jarre. Lawrence of Arabia won the Academy Award for Best Picture, 1962.

And one more for good measure:

“He sat, fireless, in very cold weather, wearing a leather, wool-lined flying suit, with the fattest fountain pen I have ever seen — where he got it I don’t know — and wrote in a splendid great Kalamazoo notebook, leather bound and secured with a patent lock that delighted him.”

T. E. Lawrence, Book Designer: His Friendship with Vyvyan Richards
Vyvyan Richards
Wakefield, West Yorkshire: Fleece Press, 1985/86
Z1116 A3 R54 1985

Reprinted from T. E. Lawrence and His Friends edited by A. W. Lawrence, 1937. From the colophon: “…printed in an edition of 250 copies, on Velin Arches Blanc by Simon Lawrence, who also set the 14pt Caslon, at his Fleece Press…200 copies are bound in quarter cloth and Sage Reynolds paste paper over boards, & 50 are bound in quarter sheepskin parchment and paste paper, signed by Peter Reddick, who engraved the frontispiece portrait of T. E. Lawrence. The book was bound in Otley by Smith Settle…”


Book of the Week — Athanasii Kircheri Societatis Iesu Magnes; sive, de arte magnetica


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““The highest mountain, the oldest books, the strangest people, there you will find the stone.” — Attributed to Athanasius Kircher

Athanasii Kircheri Societatis Iesu Magnes; sive, de arte magnetica
Athanasius Kircher (1602-1680)
Romae: sumptibus Blasii Deuersin, & Zanobii Masotti Bibliopolarum typis Vitalis Mascarditypis V. Mascardi, MDCLIV (1654)
Third and final edition
QC751 K58 1654

Athanasius Kircher learned Greek and Hebrew at the Jesuit school in Fulda. He continued his scientific studies at Paderborn, Cologne, and Koblenz, taking orders in 1628 as a Jesuit priest. He traveled to Paris, fleeing fighting in Germany, and settled in Rome in 1634. His rigorous scientific curiosity was girded by a mystical conception of natural laws and forces. His methodology ranged from scholastic to hands-on experimentation. He once had himself lowered into the crater of Vesuvius to observe it features soon after an eruption. He was a prolific writer, publishing forty-four books. More than 2,000 of his manuscripts and letters survive. He assembled one of the first natural history collections, housed in a museum after his name in Rome, and later dispersed throughout various institutions.

The third edition of Magnes sive de arte magnetica is the first to appear in folio format. It is virtually a new work, rewritten and expanded from the first edition (1641). This edition is Athanasius Kircher’s largest, most complete, and definitive treatise on magnetism and electromagnetism (a term coined by Kircher in this work), which he conceived as a universal force of nature. Kircher compiled measurements of magnetic declination from several places around the world as reported by Jesuit scholars. One of these, Martin Martini, suggested to Kircher the possibility of determining longitudes by the declination of a magnetic needle, a possibility which Kircher then introduced to the scientific community.

In this work Kircher included discussions about the magnetism of the earth and heavenly bodies, the tides, the attraction and repulsion in animals and plants, and the magnetic attraction of music and love. He addressed the practical applications of magnetism in medicine, hydraulics, the construction of scientific instruments, and toys. Above it all, God remained the central magnet of the universe.

Glass spheres contain wax figures incorporating magnets, which can be affected by the large magnet in the base of the obelisk. On the globes are letters and signs of the Zodiac to which the figures point. By manipulating the handle in front of the table skirt, the operator could rotate the central magnet and cause the figures to answer questions or spell out words. The Greek inscription on the ribbon at the top of the obelisk is the Hermetic axiom, “Nature rejoices in Nature.” — p. 275

Illustrated with thirty-two full-page engraved plates and more than one hundred and fifty ornamental woodcuts throughout the text. Title-page printed in red and black. Rare Books copy has odd little hand-inked drawings by a past owner throughout.

The portrait of Ferdinando IV, reigning Hapsburg Emperor, to whom Magnes sive de arte magnetica is dedicated, contains magnetic needles in the shape of arrows, a lodestone, the eye of God, the orb and cross corresponding to the ancient symbol for Mars, and other, even more esoteric, symbols. This engraving embodies the doctrine of Roman Catholic monarchy as a divine institution, and the emperor and his empire as the microcosmic reflections of God and his universe. Ferdinando IV died the year this edition was published, at the age of 21. — Engraving by F. Valentini

Sundial in the form of a sunflower — p. 508

In southern Italy, most commonly in Apulia, dancing the Tarantella cured the tarantulla bite. — p. 593

On Jon’s Desk: Vergilii Maronis Dreyzehen Bücher von dem tewren Helden Enea, Humanism, and Tying it all Together


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“A Brief Preface to the Reader. Please note (dear friendly reader) that Virgil’s books of the Aeneid were translated into German many years ago by an educated man and were published. Here they are again, newly printed, corrected in many places, the printing improved, and every book having its own beautiful illustration attached to it. You can see this for yourself while reading, more than I can quickly show or tell you. Herewith are Almighty God’s commands obeyed.”

– David Zöpffeln, Preface to Virgil’s Thirteen Books of the Hero Aeneas, 1559

Title: Vergilii Maronis Dreyzehen Bücher von dem tewren Helden Enea

Author: Publius Vergilius Maro (Virgil)

Translated (Latin to German): Thomas Murner (1475 – 1537)

Printed: Frankfurt am Main, Germany: Printed by David Zöpffeln, 1559

Call Number: PA6811 A5 M8


We have many important historical contributions to thank the humanists for. This delightful version of Virgil’s Aeneid in German is one of them. Printed in 1559 by David Zöpffeln in Frankfurt using Thomas Murner’s 1515 translation, this palm-size treasure is a combination of several exciting 16th century developments. Holding it in your hand is like having a piece of the Renaissance all to yourself. Sometimes I feel Humanism gets too much hype; that putting the humanist movement on a pedestal risks overlooking a thousand years of important history. Yet if there is one way to convince me how fantastic the humanists were it would be to hand me a copy of Vergilii Maronis Dreyzehen Bücher von dem tewren Helden Enea.

What makes this book special? First, it is Virgil’s Aeneid. Second, it is Thomas Murner’s German translation. Third, it represents a culmination of Renaissance philosophical thinking that occurred in Europe during the 16th century. Let’s break this down.

Who was Virgil? Publius Vergilius Maro (70 – 19 BCE) was an ancient Roman poet of the Augustan period and is traditionally ranked as one of Rome’s greatest poets. He wrote three of the most famous poems in Latin literature: the Eclogues (or Bucolics), the Georgics, and the epic Aeneid. The Aeneid has been considered the national epic of ancient Rome since the time of its composition and is considered Virgil’s finest work and one of the most important poems in the history of western literature. Virgil worked on the Aeneid during the last eleven years of his life, commissioned, according to Sextus Propertius (a Latin elegiac poet of the Augustan age), by Augustus (born Gaius Octavius, great nephew of Julius Caesar, founder of the Roman Principate and considered the first Roman emperor). Modeled after Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, the Aeneid follows the Trojan refugee Aeneas as he struggles to fulfill his destiny and reach Italy –where his descendants Romulus and Remus were to found the city of Rome. Virgil’s work has had wide and deep influence in Western literature, most notably Dante’s Divine Comedy, in which Virgil appears as Dante’s guide through Hell and Purgatory.

Who was Thomas Murner? He was a German satirist, poet, and translator who lived from 1475 until 1536 or 1537 (accounts differ). He was educated, a member of the Franciscan Order, and a humanist. Never turning to secularism, Murner directed his satires against the corruption of the times and the Reformation (particularly Martin Luther). His most powerful and virulent satire was Von dem grossen Lutherischen Narren wie ihn Doctor Murner beschworen hat (On the Great Lutheran Fool, 1522). In 1523 Henry VIII invited Murner to England, where his writings caught the attention of the famous humanist Thomas More. John Headley (Professor Emeritus, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Ph.D. Yale University, 1960) postulates that it was Murner who first made More aware of Martin Luther’s radical ecclesiology (or theology as applied to the nature and structure of the Christian Church).

Okay, so what’s Humanism all about anyways? Humanism is an outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. Humanist beliefs stress the potential value and goodness of human beings, emphasize common human needs, and seek solely rational ways of solving human problems. In the Renaissance perspective, it was a cultural movement that turned away from medieval scholasticism and revived interest in ancient Greek and Roman thought. Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism and empiricism) over acceptance of dogma or superstition.

What’s the big deal with Humanism and why is it so important? Humanism began as a revival of the study of ancient Greek and Roman texts, yet the humanists did not see themselves as being in conflict with Christianity. Some were secular leaders, but many were ordained priests. The humanists’ close study of Latin and Greek literary texts enabled them to discern important historical differences in the texts during various time periods. This was greatly aided by the influx and increased availability of many texts coming into Western Europe after the fall of the Byzantine Empire in 1453. Humanist scholars increasingly turned to the study of Neoplatonism and Hermeticism, hoping to bridge the differences between the Greek and Roman Churches, and even between Christianity itself and the non-Christian world. The refugees from Byzantium brought with them Greek manuscripts, not only of Plato and Aristotle, but also of the early copies of the Christian Gospels, previously unavailable in the Latin West.

When the new invention of printing made these texts widely available, the Dutch humanist Erasmus (who had studied Greek at the Venetian printing house of Aldus Manutius) began a philological analysis of the Gospels in the spirit of Lorenzo Valla (1407-1457), Italian humanist, rhetorician, educator, and Catholic priest, comparing the Greek originals to their Latin translations with a view to correcting errors and discrepancies in the latter. Erasmus, along with the French humanist Jacques Lefevre d’Etaples (c. 1455–1536), began issuing new translations of important historical texts. Italian and French humanism concentrated on scholarship and philology.

That is why this 1559 edition of Vergilii Maronis Dreyzehen Bücher von dem tewren Helden Enea is so fantastic – its connection to something bigger than itself. That is what makes all of us humans so special, as the humanists realized centuries ago. We are all individually and collectively amazing, like books, because of our ability to connect to and become part of something bigger than just ourselves – yet without fearing the loss of our personalities. This palm-size copy of Virgil’s Aeneid in German has some great personality, but it is also part of something big and wonderful.

~Contributed by Jon Bingham, Rare Books Curator

Memorial Day 2017


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“Let no wanton foot tread rudely on such hallowed grounds. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners…If other eyes grow dull and other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remains in us.” — from “Memorial Day Order,” May 5, 1868, John A. Logan,
Commander in Chief, Grand Army of the Republic

Memorial Sunday and Decoration Day
Salt Lake: Century Printing, 1912
E642 M45 1912