37 results in English
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
Contributed by National Central Library
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
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 ...
Contributed by National Central Library
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 ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
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 ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
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 ...
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 ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
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 ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
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 ...
Contributed by National Library of China
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 ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
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 ...
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 ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
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 ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Jewish Antiquities
Jean Fouquet (141?-80?) was the greatest French painter of the 15th century. His genius is reflected in his illustrations of Jewish Antiquities, which Fouquet created for Jacques d’Armagnac, the Duke of Nemours. Fouquet traveled to Italy as a young man, where he learned to paint with great precision of detail and to use aerial perspective, but he continued to draw upon his native Touraine for many aspects of his art, especially forms and color. In these illustrations, his depiction of the siege of Jericho evokes a city on ...
The Xiping Stone Classics
These engravings of the seven Confucian classics were set up outside the National University Gate, located on the south side of Loyang, the capital city, in the Eastern Han dynasty. They were created between 175 and 183, after Cai Yong and a group of scholars successfully petitioned the emperor to have the Confucian classics carved in stone in order to prevent their being altered to support particular points of view. They are also called the “Han Stone Classics” and the “Single-Script Stone Classics." The seven classics -- The Book of Changes ...
Contributed by National Library of China
Heliand
The Heliand is an epic poem in Old Saxon that was first written down in around 830–840. The poem, whose title means “savior,” recounts the life of Jesus in the alliterative verse style of a Germanic saga. At about 6,000 lines, the Heliand is the largest known work written in Old Saxon, the precursor of modern Low German. The name of the poet is unknown, but some information about him and the origins of the poem can be gleaned from a Latin preface printed by Matthias Flacius Illyricus ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Books 1–5 of History. Ethiopian Story. Book 8: From the Departure of the Divine Marcus
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 ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Speeches
Under the influence of Italian humanism and of his book-collector tutor János Vitéz, 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 was ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
The History of Bologna in Four Books. Poems to Galeatius Marescottus
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 ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Eight Books Concerning Medicine
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 ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
The Rubrics of the First Book of Lactantius Firmianus's On the Divine Institutes Against the Pagans Begin …
This very rare work by Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius is one of the first books printed in Italy and the first dated Italian imprint. It was produced by the German typographers Conrad Sweynheym and Arnold Pannartz, who established a printing press in 1465 at the Benedictine abbey of Subiaco, near Rome. According to the colophon, the book was completed “In the year of Our Lord 1465, in the second year of the papacy of Paul II, the thirteenth indiction and the last day but two of the month of October ...
The Curse of Artemisia – Fragment
This ancient curse is one of the earliest surviving Greek documents on papyrus from Egypt. Dating from the late 4th century BC, it comes from the community of Ionian Greeks that was established at that time in Memphis, Lower Egypt. Greek culture came to dominate in Memphis, especially after 332 BC, when Alexander the Great was crowned pharaoh in the temple of the god Ptah. In the document, Artemisia, about whom almost nothing is known, appeals to the Greco-Egyptian god Oserapis to punish the father of her daughter for depriving ...
Contributed by Austrian National Library
History of Three Kingdoms in Yi Xiang Tang Edition
This San guo zhi (History of three kingdoms) in the Yi xiang tang edition is imperfect, containing only 42 illustrations. The inscription in the first illustration reads: "Engraved by Huang Chengzhi of Xin'an." The seventh illustration has a similar inscription: "Engraved by Huang Chengzhi." The inscription of the eighth illustration reads, "engraved by Huang Shiheng." The famous book collector, Ma Lian (1893-1935), also had a fragmented copy of this work in the Yi xiang tang edition. Ma Lian and the literary critic Sun Kaidi (1898-1985) both considered this copy ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Illustrated Poem of Li Sao
This work is an illustrated edition of the Qing dynasty of the poem Li sao (Departing sorrow) by Qu Yuan, who lived circa 343-277 BCE. It was illustrated by Xiao Yuncong (1596-1673), a famed early Qing painter, and was engraved by Tang Yongxian. According to Wang Zhongmin in A descriptive catalog of rare Chinese books in the Library of Congress (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1957) Pan Zuyin (1830-90), a late Qing man of letters and linguist and Qing official, reissued the work and rebound it in four volumes, but ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Beginning of Niẓāmī's "Iqbalnamah"
This illuminated folio continues the beginning of Niẓāmī Ganjavī's Iqbalnamah (The book of progress), the second of two sections in the last book, Iskandarnamah (The book of Alexander the Great), of the author’s Khamsah (Quintet). It follows the first two illuminated folios of the book and provides multiple subhan (praises) of the Creator, as well as a eulogy on Muhammad, the Lord of the Messengers. Niẓāmī introduces each of his five books with introductory praises of God and His Prophet before launching into a narrative. The verso of ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Colophon of Niẓāmī's "Sharafnamah" and Title Page of Niẓāmī's "Iqbalnamah"
This folio contains the last lines and colophon of the Sharafnamah (The book of honor), the first section of the fifth book of Niẓāmī Ganjavī's Khamsah (Quintet) entitled Iskandarnamah (The book of Alexander the Great). On the folio's verso appears the beginning of the second section of the Iskandarnamah called Iqbalnamah (The book of progress), arranged in an illuminated title page, which contains a heading written in white ink: Kitab Iqbalnamah-yi Shaykh Nizami, 'alayhi al-rahmah wa-al-maghfarah (The book of progress of Niẓāmī, mercy and forgiveness upon him). The ...
Contributed by Library of Congress
Great Cameo of France
The Grand Camée de France (Great cameo of France), the largest cameo sculpture to survive from the ancient world, contains 24 engraved figures arrayed in three registers. The general meaning and the political goals of this commissioned work are clear: its aim is to assert the dynastic continuity and legitimacy of the Julio-Claudian emperors of the Roman Empire (the first five emperors: Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero). The dead are placed in the upper part, while the middle register represents the world of the living. In the lowest register ...
Life of Mary
This 16th-century manuscript contains a relatively well preserved copy of Ktāba d-taš’itāh d-qaddištā yāldat alāhā Maryam (Life of Mary) in Syriac, an eastern dialect of Aramaic. The work (in six volumes) was written by Theophilos, the Greek patriarch of Alexandria in 385–412, and copied in 1567–68 by a scribe named Slibona. At the end of this work comes a metrical homily by Jacob of Serugh (died 521) on the death of Mary, the last half of which is missing in this copy. Some corrections and vowel signs ...
On the Life of Plotinus. The Six Enneads
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 ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library
Kalila and Dimna
Kalila wa-Dimna (Kalila and Dimna) is a widely circulated collection of Oriental fables of Indian origin, composed in Sanskrit possibly as early as the third century BC. The fables were translated into Arabic in the eighth century by the Persian Ibn al-Muqaffa’, a highly educated writer and influential courtier. To this day, al-Muqaffa’s translation is considered an unsurpassed masterpiece of Arabic artistic prose, and numerous translations into European and Oriental languages dating from the 10th to the 14th centuries derive from his version. Influences of al-Muqaffa’s translation also ...
Contributed by Bavarian State Library