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 the letter "N" and the motto "Suave" as it stood even before he became pope, is inserted in the decoration within the codex. The Medici coat of arms is also present, crowned by the papal insignia and the symbol of the Medici, a diamond ring with a white, a green, and a red feather and the motto “Semper." The same emblems are found in a group of codices in the Medicea Laurenziana Library in Florence that probably were commissioned by Leo X. The librarian Luigi De Angelis was responsible for publishing the text of the manuscript in Siena in 1823. De Angelis praised the elegance of the illuminations, with particular reference to the portrait in the dedicatory initial, believed to depict an effigy of Lucianus, and suggested that it could be attributed to Raphael. A reviewer of De Angelis’s edition put forward the hypothesis that Livio Guidolotto's dedication of the caustic dialogues to the pope was not accepted. As a result, the work remained unpublished for a very long time. The manuscript is known have been in the collection of the Sienese scholar Uberto Benvoglienti at the beginning of the 18th century. It later was bequeathed to the Biblioteca comunale degli Intronati di Siena. The manuscript is bound in a composite codex that gathers together five manuscripts of different ages (dating from the end of the 13th century to circa 1521) and provenance, and which are also dissimilar in layout, graphic style, and format.

Date Created

Subject Date


Title in Original Language

Dialogi deorum

Type of Item

Physical Description

24 folios : parchment with illuminations ; 228 × 146 millimeters


  • Shelfmark: ms. H.VI.31[5]


  1. Biblioteca comunale degli Intronati, The Biblioteca comunale degli Intronati for The James Madison Council: manuscripts, incunables, drawings and prints (Siena: 2011).

Last updated: October 17, 2017