Representations of Love in the Books of Emblems: The Reception of The Greek Anthology in Alciato and van Veen

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Abstract

During the Renaissance, emblem books, a collection of allegorical illustrations accompanied by an explanatory text, became very popular. They were intended to teach a moral truth in an intuitive way, using an image to apprehend a concept. And for this reason, they were called ‘emblems’, meaning a ‘mosaic work’.
There is a strong connection between the authors of these books and the Alexandrian poets, as it happens with Alciato. He doesn’t only create his emblems based on authors as Athenæus, Aulus Gellius, Ælian, Stobæus, Pliny or Pausanias, but uses several epigrams from The Greek Anthology, which he translates into Latin adding a picture to it.
On the other hand, we have Otto van Veen (Vænius). Though he does not translate the epigrams in the anthology, yet he is inspired by them, namely those describing Eros and his power.
The purpose of this paper is to analyse the emblems representing the god of love, in order to understand how this deity was seen by the authors of emblem books and how far was this a legacy of the Hellenistic period.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-57
Number of pages11
JournalRes Antiquitatis. Journal of Ancient History
Volume3
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jan 2022

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