Brant: Dido Looks Upon the Trojan Fleet

VP1502_099_226v_Dido_looks_upon_the_Trojan_fleet_from_her_palace_Aen._4_571-629.jpg
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Aeneas, who previously has been visited by a vision of Mercury (556-70), rouses his men to leave the harbors of Carthage (571-83). On the main ship, which holds Aeneas, the men row swiftly in unison to leave the shore as quickly as possible (581-3). In the upper right corner of the image, Dido watches them leave from the window of a tower. This is a departure from the text, in which Dido simply sees the empty harbor and knows they have left (586-8). The combination of the scenes makes sense if the goal is to maximize the use of illustration space, and the change is not significant enough to cause much confusion when used with the text. (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. 226r, executed by an anonymous engraver under the direction of Brant.

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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)

Bibliography: 

Werner Suerbaum, Handbuch der illustrierten Vergil-Ausgaben, 1502–1840 (Hildesheim: Georg Olms, 2008) VP 1502, no. 86.

Annabel Patterson, “Sebastian Brant: Illustration as Exegesis,” in Pastoral and Ideology: Virgil to Valéry (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987), p. 92.

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1502
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University of Heidelberg
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