Brant: Boxing Match

Entellus and Dares fight each other with clubs. It is apparent that the person who made this image had never seen a boxing match, and set this up as a cudgel duel. The swords of the participants have been laid aside as they take up clubs to fight each other. Aeneas, Ascanius and Achates cheer on Dares, while Acestes and a few attendants encourage Entellus. Lying in front of the boxers is a club which appears to have a human head attached to one end. The head is bearded with fairly long hair, and a crown lies near it; it appears to be the head of a defeated king, but it is unclear what this head symbolizes. (Katy Purington)

Woodcut illustration from the “Strasbourg Vergil,” edited by Sebastian Brant: Publii Virgilii Maronis Opera cum quinque vulgatis commentariis expolitissimisque figuris atque imaginibus nuper per Sebastianum Brant superadditis (Strasbourg: Johannis Grieninger, 1502), fol. 240r, executed by an anonymous engraver under the direction of Brant.


Sebastian Brant (1458-1521) was a humanist scholar of many competencies. Trained in classics and law at the University of Basel, Brant later lectured in jurisprudence there and practiced law in his native city of Strasbourg. While his satirical poem Das Narrenschiff won him considerable standing as a writer, his role in the transmission of Virgil to the Renaissance was at least as important. In 1502 he and Strasbourg printer Johannes Grüninger produced a major edition of Virgil’s works, along with Donatus’ Life and the commentaries of Servius, Landino, and Calderini, with more than two hundred woodcut illustrations. (Annabel Patterson)

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