Brant: Portus Libycus

VP1502_053_130v_Portus_Libycus_Aen._1_157-222.jpg
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After landing at a secluded rocky harbor on the coast of Libya (157-158; harbor described in detail 159-168), the Trojans prepare a meal. In the background Aeneas shoots several deer from a herd that has crossed his path while he and Achates look along the coast for more survivors of the storm (lines 180-186). Below the ships, one man holds wine in wineskins salvaged from the ships (195-198), while a few others offload barrels of something, perhaps the grains mentioned in lines 177-9. In the right foreground someone roasts venison [note the deer antlers] (210-3); in the right corner, a Trojan mourns, representing the mourning of lost comrades at lines 217-222. On the left, a group of Trojans gathers around a fountain, feasting on a leg of venison. (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. 130v, executed by an anonymous engraver under the direction of Brant.

Comments: 

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. 53.

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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