95 results in English
Commentaries by Domizio Calderini on Works by Juvenal, Statius, Ovid, and Propertius
Under the influence of Italian humanism and of his book-collector tutor János Vitéz, the Archbishop of Esztergom, Matthias Corvinus of Hungary (1443–1490), developed a passion for books and learning. Elected king of Hungary in 1458 at the age of 14, Matthias won great acclaim for his battles against the Ottoman Turks and his patronage of learning and science. He created the Bibliotheca Corviniana, in its day one of Europe’s finest libraries. After his death, and especially after the conquest of Buda by the Turks in 1541, the library ...
Dialogues of the Gods
This manuscript contains ten of the dialogues of Lucianus, a second-century rhetorician and satirist who wrote in Greek, in the Latin version of Livio Guidolotto (also seen as Guidalotto or Guidalotti). Livio, a classical scholar from Urbino, was the apostolic assistant of Pope Leo X, and he dedicated his translation to the pope in an introductory epistle of 1518 ("Romae, Idibus maii MDXVIII"; folio 150v). The latest possible date for the manuscript thus is 1521, the year Leo died. The emblem of Giovanni de' Medici, with the beam accompanied by ...
Holy Qur'an
According to Islamic belief, the Holy Qur'an was revealed by God to the Prophet Mohammad (570–632) by the Angel Gabriel over a period of 22 years. The Qur'an speaks in powerful, moving language about the reality and attributes of God, the spiritual world, God's purposes with mankind, man's relationship and responsibility to God, the coming of the Day of Judgment, and the life hereafter. It also contains rules for living, stories of earlier prophets and their communities, and vital insights and understandings concerning the meaning ...
On the Sphere and the Cylinder; On the Measurement of the Circle; On Conoids and Spheroids; On Spirals; On the Equilibrium of Planes; On the Quadrature of the Parabola; The Sand Reckoner
In the middle of the 15th century, a number of manuscripts by the third-century BC Greek mathematician Archimedes began to circulate in the humanistic centers in the courts of Italy. Piero della Francesca (circa 1416–92), the Renaissance artist best known for the frescos he painted for the Vatican and for the chapels in Arezzo, transcribed a copy of a Latin translation of Archimedes’s geometry (a compilation of seven surviving treatises) and illustrated it with more than 200 drawings representing the  mathematical theorems in the texts. This manuscript, long ...
Bucolics, Georgics, and the Aeneid
This 15th-century manuscript, known as the Riccardiana Virgil, includes the texts of the three extant works of the great Roman poet Virgil, the Bucolics, the Georgics, and the Aeneid, and contains 88 miniature paintings in the lower margin of many of the vellum leaves. The miniatures, 86 in the Aeneid and one each in the Bucolics and the Georgics, are attributed to Florentine artist Apollonio di Giovanni and his workshop. Those illustrating the story of Aeneas reflect the influence of Benozzo Gozzoli, who in 1459 completed a suite of frescos ...
Geography
Claudius Ptolemaeus (circa 100–circa 170), known as Ptolemy, was an astronomer, mathematician, and geographer of Greek descent who lived and worked in the Egyptian city of Alexandria. In his Geography, Ptolemy gathered all the geographic knowledge possessed by the Greco-Roman world. He used a system of grid lines to plot the latitude and longitude of some 8,000 places on a map that encompassed the known world at the height of the Roman Empire. Ptolemy’s work was lost to Europe in the Middle Ages, but around 1300 Byzantine ...
Of Medical Substances
The precious codex known as the Dioscurides Neapolitanus contains the work of Pedanius Dioscorides, the Greek physician who was born at Anazarbus near Tarsus in Cilicia (present-day Turkey) and lived in the first century AD during the reign of the Emperor Nero. Dioscorides wrote the treatise Perì üles iatrichès, commonly known in Latin as De materia medica (Of medical substances), in five books. It is considered the most important medical manual and pharmacopeia of ancient Greece and Rome and was highly regarded in the Middle Ages in both the Western ...
Titus Andronicus
This 1594 copy of Titus Andronicus is the only known copy of this quarto in existence, and, along with a version of Henry VI, Part 2 from the same year, is the earliest extant printed Shakespeare play. Quartos printed after about 1598 often display the name William Shakespeare; as this is an earlier quarto, the name of the acting company is shown instead. Quarto editions of the plays, which began to appear in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, were inexpensive and were sold unbound, sometimes in small numbers ...
City of God
Saint Augustine of Hippo (354–430) is generally considered one of the greatest Christian thinkers of all time. He was born in Thagaste (present-day Souq Ahras, Algeria) in Roman-ruled Africa, the son of a pagan father and a Christian mother (Saint Monica). After studying in Carthage and teaching rhetoric in his native city, he moved to Rome in 383 and to Milan in 384. Under the influence of his mother and Ambrose, bishop of Milan, he converted to Christianity in 387. He was ordained a priest in 391 and rose ...
Letters, Essays, and Sermons by Saint Gregory Nazianzus
This 18th-century manuscript is a collection of letters, essays, and sermons by Saint Gregory Nazianzus (died circa 389). The manuscript is thought to be the first Arabic translation from the original Greek and has not yet been edited or published. It is the second volume of a two-volume work. Gregory of Nazianzus, also known as Gregory the Theologian, is recognized as a Father of the Church in both the Eastern and Western traditions. He was born in Cappadocia (eastern Anatolia), where he spent much of his life. He was a ...
Letters, Pedagogical Teachings, and Sayings of Saint Anthony of Egypt
This manuscript opens with the 20 letters “to the sons who follow his [Anthony’s] gentle path…and prayers to keep us from Satan’s example.” The letters are for the most part short, many not exceeding five folios. According to an introductory note, they are addressed to both men and women. The work is in a bold but relaxed hand. Each letter or other significant section is set off in red. There are no contemporary marginal glosses, but comments and corrections (some in English) in pencil were made by ...
The History of the Roman Provinces of the Near East
This Arabic manuscript is a history of the Roman provinces of the Near East, with special reference to King Herod the Great and the dynasty he founded. The manuscript lacks numerous pages at the beginning and end. The remaining portion contains the history of Roman Palestine during the first century BC until the destruction of the temple by Roman emperor Titus in 70 AD. The author, title, and date of copying are unknown. The work has been tentatively ascribed to the 17th century. The text is unadorned except for marking ...
Annotated Edition of “The Book of Documents”
Shang shu (The book of documents), also called Shu jing (The book of history), is one of the Five Classics of the Confucian canon that greatly influenced Chinese history and culture. Translations of its title into English vary and include Classic of History, Classic of Documents, Book of History, Book of Documents, or Book of Historical Documents. There are many copies and versions of Shang shu, ascribed to Confucius, but its history is obscure. The work is a compilation of speeches by major figures and records of events in ancient ...
Contributed by National Central Library
Annotated Edition of “The Book of Rites”
Li ji (The book of rites) is one of the Five Classics of the Confucian canon, which had significant influence on Chinese history and culture. The book was rewritten and edited by the disciples of Confucius and their students after the "Burning of the Books" during the rule of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, around 213 BC. The work describes the social forms, governmental system, and ceremonial rites of the Zhou Dynasty (1046–256 BC). Li literally means "rites," but it also can be used to refer ...
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Romance of the Three Kingdoms in Illustrations
Sanguo yan yi (Romance of the Three Kingdoms), written by Luo Guanzhong (circa 1330–1400), a late-Yuan and early-Ming author, is a historical novel set in the third century, in the turbulent years near the end of the Han Dynasty and the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history. The part-historical, part-legendary, and part-mythical story chronicles the lives of feudal lords and their retainers, who vied with each other to restore or replace the declining Han Dynasty. The novel follows literally hundreds of characters, with plots, personal and army battles, intrigues ...
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Romance of the Three Kingdoms with Li Zhuowu’s Critical Comments
Sanguo yan yi (Romance of the Three Kingdoms), written by Luo Guanzhong (circa 1330–1400), a late-Yuan and early-Ming author, is a historical novel set in the third century, in the turbulent years near the end of the Han Dynasty and the Three Kingdoms era of Chinese history. The part-historical, part-legendary, and part-mythical story chronicles the lives of feudal lords and their retainers, who vied with each other to restore or replace the declining Han Dynasty. The novel follows literally hundreds of characters, with plots, personal and army battles, intrigues ...
Contributed by National Central Library
Eleven Commentaries to The Art of War by Sunzi
Sunzi bing fa (The art of war by Sunzi) is the most important and popular military classic of ancient China. Its influence also spread to neighboring countries and beyond. Sun Wu, also known as Sunzi or Sun Tzu, lived in the State of Qi during the late Spring and Autumn period (770-476 BC). He served the State of Wu, in the southeast coastal area, from around 512 BC and presented his military strategy in a work of 13 chapters to the king of Wu. Together with Wu Zixu (died 484 ...
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Armillary Sphere
Zhang Heng (78–139 AD), a native of Xi’e, Nanyang (in present-day Henan Province), was an astronomer, mathematician, inventor, and an accomplished scholar. He began his career as an official during the Eastern Han dynasty (25–220). Controversy about his views and political rivalry with other officials led him to retire and return to Nanyang, but in 138 he was recalled to serve in the capital. He died a year later. He received posthumous honors for his scholarship and creativity. Two of his representative works are Hun yi (Armillary ...
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City of God
This codex of Saint Augustine’s De civitate dei (City of God) is from the Plutei Collection of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence. The volume is bound in red morocco leather with the Medici coat of arms at the center and on each corner of the front cover. It has an illuminated page (recto of folio 11) and a number of illuminated initial capital letters (e.g., recto of folio 31). Saint Augustine of Hippo (354–430) wrote more than 100 works, of which his Confessiones (Confessions) and De ...
Concerning Virgins and Other Works
This codex of De virginibus seu potius opera varia (Concerning virgins and other works) by Saint Ambrose (circa 340−97) is from the Plutei Collection of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence. The book has the distinctive Medici red leather binding and a beautifully illuminated first page (recto of folio 1) executed by Matteo da Milano (active circa 1492−circa 1523). On the last page, the colophon gives the name of the copyist as “Martinus Antonius” and the date of completion as “Ides of October 1489.” Ambrose was born in ...
Seven Books of the Saturnalia
This codex from the Plutei Collection of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence contains the complete text of Saturnalia by the fourth−fifth century Latin author Macrobius. The work takes the form of a series of dialogues among learned men at a fictional banquet at which they discuss antiquities, history, literature, mythology, and other topics. The manuscript may have been copied by a scribe belonging to Bernardo Nuzzi’s circle of copyists in Florence. It organizes the seven original books of Macrobius into five books. The inscription on the recto ...
History of Rome
Historia by Appianus of Alexandria (circa 90−160) is a narrative of the history of Rome from the Republic (circa 509−27 BC) to the second century AD. The present codex, from the Plutei Collection of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence, is a translation from the original Greek into Latin by Pier Candido Decembrio (1399−1477), commissioned by Pope Nicholas V (1397−1455). In the colophon (recto of folio 151), the copyist, Carolus Hylarii Fatarius, states that the manuscript originally was intended for the library of King Matthias Corvinus ...
On Medicine
Cornelius Aulus Celsius was a first-century Roman medical writer and the author of De medicina (On medicine), considered one of the most important medical treatises of late antiquity. The work’s encyclopedic arrangement follows the tripartite division of medicine at the time as established by Hippocrates and Asclepiades—diet, pharmacology, and surgery—and exhibits a level of medical knowledge remarkable for its time. This codex, from the Plutei Collection of the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana in Florence, changed hands a number of times. It might have belonged first to the library ...
The Empire and Expeditions of Alexander the Great
This 1833 map in Latin shows the conquests of Alexander the Great (356–323 BC), whose empire stretched from present-day Greece through Turkey and the Middle East to Afghanistan. In 326 BC Alexander set out to conquer India, but he was stymied when his exhausted armies mutinied on the banks of the Hyphasis River (now known as the Beas River) in northern India. The map shows the cities that Alexander founded and named after himself, including Alexandria Arachosia (Kandahar, Afghanistan), Alexandria Ariana (Herat, Afghanistan), Alexandria, Egypt, and many others. Place-names ...
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Kingdoms of the Successors of Alexander: After the Battle of Ipsus, B.C. 301
Alexander the Great (356–323 BC) died suddenly at the age of 32, leaving no apparent heir or appointed successor. Some 40 years of internecine conflict followed his death, as leading generals and members of Alexander’s family vied to control different parts of the vast empire he had built. The Battle of Ipsus, fought in Phrygia, Asia Minor (present-day Turkey) in 301 BC between rival successors, resulted in the empire’s irrevocable dissolution. This late-19th century map in Latin shows the four main kingdoms that emerged after the battle ...
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The Historical Theater in the Year 400 AD, in Which Both Romans and Barbarians Resided Side by Side in the Eastern Part of the Roman Empire
This map in Latin by the great French mapmaker Guillaume de L’Isle (1675–1726) shows the eastern parts of the Roman Empire circa 400 AD and the territory of adjacent tribes and kingdoms not under Rome’s control. The latter include the Sarmatians and the Scythians, peoples that the Romans regarded as barbarians. Arabia is shown divided into its three traditional divisions, Arabia Petrea, Arabia Felix, and Arabia Deserta. Qatar is indicated as “Catarei.” The eastern part of the map shows the empire of Alexander the Great, including Persia ...
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Commentary on The Analects of Confucius
Rongo (Analects) is famed as the collection of the words and deeds of Confucius. As the most cherished scripture of Confucianism, the book greatly influenced the culture of China and neighboring nations. It is said to have been introduced to Japan around the fifth century. The first published edition of Rongo in Japan was made in Sakai, a city in present-day Ōsaka Prefecture, in the 19th year of the Shōhei period (1364), and is known as the Shōhei version. The wood blocks of the first edition disappeared in early days ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
The Completion of Mere Ideation
In Japan temples were the center of publishing until the Middle Ages. The Kasuga edition of the Buddhist scriptures was produced at the Kōfuku-ji Temple in Nara. These scrolls, from that edition, contain the text of Jōyuishikiron (The completion of mere ideation), a commentary on the work by the Indian scholar Seshin (Vasubandhu in Sanskrit) known as Yuishiki sanjūju (Triṃśikā-vijñapti-kārikā in Sanskrit, Weishi sanshi song in Chinese). The commentary was translated into Chinese during the Tang dynasty by a Chinese monk named Xuanzang. It was a canon of the ...
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The Analects of Confucius
Rongo (Analects) is famed as the collection of the words and deeds of Confucius and has greatly influenced the culture of China and neighboring nations as the most cherished scripture of Confucianism. It is said to have been introduced to Japan around the fifth century. This work is called the “Tenmon version,” the second version of the published Rongo in Japan after the Rongo shikkai (known as the Shōhei version) first published in Japan in the 19th year of the Shōhei era (1364). The Tenmon Analects were published in the ...
Contributed by National Diet Library
The Expeditions of Alexander: Made for “Histoire Ancienne” by Mr. Rollin
This map shows the expeditions of Alexander the Great (356–323 BC) from the Hellespont, the strait (later called the Dardanelles) that separates Europe from Asia in present-day Turkey, through Turkey, the Levant, Egypt, Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), Persia (Iran), and Afghanistan. Alexander reached as far as the banks of the Hyphasis River (now known as the Beas River) in northern India, where the conqueror’s exhausted armies finally mutinied. Shown are cities that Alexander founded and named “Alexandria” in honor of himself. Two distance scales are given, the ancient measure ...
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The Empire of Alexander the Great and his Campaigns in Europe, Africa, and Particularly in Asia
This map, published in Paris in 1712, shows the expeditions and empire of Alexander the Great (356–323 BC), in Europe, Africa, and Asia. The circular inset at the top shows the three continents. The numbered notes in the lower right refer to Alexander’s campaign on the banks of the Hyphasis River (now known as the Beas River) in northern India, which is shown on the far-right side of the map. The long note in Latin in the upper right-hand corner summarizes Alexander’s career and conquests, which are ...
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The Luxuriant Dew of the Spring and Autumn Annals
Attributed to the Han dynasty scholar Dong Zhongshu (circa 179−circa 104 BC), Chun Qiu fan lu (The luxuriant dew of the Spring and Autumn annals) was an elaboration on the Spring and Autumn Annals, which date from about the 720s to the 480s BC. Dong’s work focuses on the Gongyang Commentary (On the Annals) and its school, which predated his work by a century or more, with references to the five elements theory (fire, earth, metal, water, and wood) and the interaction between heaven and mankind. Four different ...
Contributed by National Library of China
Rubbings of Inscriptions on Mao Gong Ding, the Duke Mao Tripod
Mao Gong Ding, the bronze tripod cauldron, was excavated at the end of the Daoguang period (1821−50) in Qishan County, Shaanxi. Dings were used widely as ritual vessels and became hierarchical symbols during the Zhou dynasty (circa 1046−256 BC). This is the most famous ding, originally belonging to Mao Gong. There are 497 characters on the inside of the vessel, the longest bronze inscription known to this day. The inscription records the history of the late Western Zhou (circa 1046−771 BC), specifically the reign of Emperor Xuan ...
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Laozi's Classic of the Way and the Virtue
Dao de jing (Classic of the way and the virtue) is also known as the Laozi. It is the key work of Laozi, a philosopher, poet, and originator of Daoism, thought to have lived in the sixth century BC. It has two parts: Dao jing (Book of Dao, the way) in 37 brief chapters and De jing (Book of De, the virtue) in 44 chapters. The entire book has 5,000 or so characters, thus it is also called Laozi wu qian wen (The 5,000-character Laozi). The nucleus of ...
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Explaining and Analyzing Characters, in 15 Juan
Shuo wen jie zi (Explaining and analyzing characters), often abridged as Shuo wen, was compiled by Xu Shen (circa 58−circa 147), a Confucian scholar and linguist of the Eastern Han dynasty. This is the first Chinese dictionary to use the principle of organization by sections with shared components, called bu shou (radicals), and to analyze the form, meaning, and pronunciation of each character, using the liu shu (six categories of Chinese characters) theory, to give the rationale behind them, as well as their interrelation. It is the forerunner of ...
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Palestine, Tribes, and Jerusalem
Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d’Anville (1697-1782) was one of the most important French geographers of the 18th century. He worked during the reigns of Louis XV and Louis XVI. D’Anville’s approach to geography was geometric; he believed that man’s presence was worthy of acknowledgement only insofar as it helped the cartographer to establish the boundaries of a place. He focused on fidelity to what was documented about the territory in question using knowledge gleaned from travel journals, historical accounts, old maps, poems, and more. D’Anville was ...
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Merovingian Bees
The tomb of Childéric, king of the Salian Franks from 457 to 481 and the father of Clovis, was discovered by chance in 1653 by construction workers near the church of Saint-Brice in Tournai, in present-day Belgium. The treasure found was given to Archduke Leopold William of Habsburg (1614−62), governor of the southern Netherlands (at that time under Spanish rule). The archduke asked medical doctor and antique specialist Jean-Jacques Chifflet to write a study of the find, which was published in Antwerp in 1655 under the title Anastasis Childerici ...
Papyrus Graecus Holmiensis
Papyrus Graecus Holmiensis (The Stockholm papyrus) is a codex consisting of 15 leaves containing 154 recipes for the manufacture of dyes and colors used in fashioning artificial stones. Written in Greek around AD 300, it is one of the earliest complete treatises of its kind and an important vehicle for the transmission of practical information from the Alexandrian (Old Egyptian) world to Byzantium and Western Europe. The manuscript appears to have been written by the same scribe as a similar codex in the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden, also containing ...
Lancelot, the Knight of the Cart
Lancelot ou le Chevalier de la charrette (Lancelot, the knight of the cart) is the third Arthurian novel written by Chrétien de Troyes (circa 1135−circa 1181). It was composed between 1176 and 1181 at the request of Marie de Champagne. This novel in octosyllabic verses is part of the Holy Grail cycle, the four volumes of which are kept at the Bibliothèque nationale de France under shelf-marks FR 113 to FR 116. This copy of the novel was commissioned by book lover Jacques d’Armagnac, duke of Nemours and ...
The Holy Land or Promised Land (Formerly Palestine), Recently Depicted and Published
Nicolaus (also spelled Nicolas, Nicolaes) Visscher was the son of a Dutch master painter and mapmaker, Claes Janszoon Visscher, and was known for the exquisite artistry of the maps he produced. In the 16th and 17th centuries the Dutch were involved in a race against Portugal for control of the spice trade. The antipathy between the two states ran especially deep because of the alliance of Portugal with the Kingdom of Spain, with whom the Dutch had been embroiled in the Eighty Years' War (1566-1648). Only one year before the ...
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The Feast of Iskandar and Nushabah from Niẓāmī's "Iskandarnamah"
The painting on the recto and the text on the verso of this fragment describe an episode in Niẓāmī's Iskandarnamah (The book of Alexander the Great), the last text of the author's Khamsah (Quintet). In his work, the great Persian author Niẓāmī Ganjavī (1140 or 1141–1202 or 1203) describes the adventures and battles of Alexander the Great as he travels to the end of the world. On his way to the Land of Darkness, he visits the queen of the Caucasian city of Barda, Nushabah, in order ...
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Su Ruolan
The portrait is of Su Hui, a gifted fourth-century female scholar and poet who had the courtesy name of Ruolan (“like an orchid”). She is famous for a palindromic poem that she embroidered in several colors of silk to express her love for her husband, who had been exiled to a distant point on the trade routes to Central Asia. Different versions of the poem exist. One has 112 characters arranged in eight rows of 14 characters. They make no sense unless the reader starts with the character "husband" in ...
Contributed by National Central Library