Andrea Alciato

“Portrait d’Andrea Alciati” [Andrea Alciato], Ambrosius Benson, first half of the 16th century, Musée des Beaux-Arts d’Angers (inv. : 003.1.424), CC BY-SA 4.0

While boys are entertained by nuts and youths by dice, so playing-cards fill up the time of lazy men. In the festive season we hammer out these emblems, made by the distinguished hand of craftsmen. Just as one affixes trimmings to clothes and badges to hats, so it behooves every one of us to write in silent marks. Though the supreme emperor may give to you, for you to own, precious coins and finest objects of the ancients, I myself shall give, one poet to another, paper gifts: take these, Konrad, the token of my love.

Andrea Alciato, Emblematum Liber, 1531

In the holiday season of 1522, Andrea Alciato wrote a ‘little book of poetry’ that he called Emblematum Liber (‘The Book of Emblems‘). The book was only published in 1531, by Heinrich Steyner in Augsburg. The editor, who did not obtain the author’s permission to publish this work, arranged rustic woodcuts to accompany most of the poems, which consisted a title and epigram greatly inspired by the Anthologia Graeca and Horapollon’s Hieroglyphica. This unplanned collaboration created a tripartite composition (combining title, image and epigram) that would soon become an extremely popular cultural genre in the early-modern world.

Under the auspices of this special date, Emblematica created its new website and digital infrastructure. And with the new website, comes this page, designed to celebrate Alciato’s enormous influence in the literary and visual cultures of the early-modern world.

Alciato at Emblematica

A bibliography of all articles about Alciato and his work featured in our journal

Alciato at Glasgow

22 editions of Alciato’s Emblemata, fully translated, indexed and annotated

Emblematica Online

Emblematica Online has digital fac-similes of over 30 editions of Alciato!