Brant: Aeneas Erects a Trophy before Troy

Aeneas erects a trophy dedicating the spoils of Mezentius to Mars. He hangs the armor, helmet and weapons of Mezentius on the fresh stump of a large oak tree (5-11). In the text, he arranges the full array to look like it would on a warrior such as Mezentius, but here they are simply hung on the various branches in no particular pattern. Aeneas then makes a speech to his soldiers, encouraging them to stay strong in the coming battles (14-28). He also prepares to bury the unburied bodies of the men who died in battle on the previous day (22-5).

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. 369r, 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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