343J  Vincenso Cartari.   1531–1569

Seconda novissima editione delle Imagini de gli dei delli antichi di Vicenzo Cartari …Ridotte da capo a piedi alle loro reali, & non più per l’adietro osseruate simiglianze. cauate da’marmi, bronzi, medaglie, gioie, & altre memorie antiche; con esquisito studio, & particolare dligenza da Lorenzo Pignoria … Aggionteui le annotationi del medismo sopra tutta l’opera, & vn discorso intorno le deità dell’Indie orientali, & occidentali, con le loro figure tratte da gl’originali, che si conseruano nelle Galleri de’principi, & ne’musei delle persone priuate. Con le allegorie sopra le imagini di Cesare Malfatti … Et vn catalogo di cento più famosi dei della gentilità. Con l’aggiunta d’vn’altro catalogo de gl’autori antichi, & moderni, che hanno trattato questa materia, ordinato & raccolto dal medesimo Pignoria che ha accresciute le annotationi & aggiunte molte imagini.

In Padova, Nella stamparia di Pietro Paolo Tozzi. 1626           $4,500

IMG_4263Quarto, 9 1/4 x 6 1/2 in 224×162 mm.  Signatures:   ‡8 ≠≠1,a6, ‡‡4 [∏2 FOLDOUTS] A-Z8 ,AA-OO8  (38 pages, 589 pages illustrations, two  folded plates) This copy is bound in later boards , It is one of the cleanest copies I have Had or seen with large margins and good impressions.SECOND EDITION :

This is the First Edition in which the antiquarian and egyptologist who was also  interested in the sciences, and a friend of Galileo. Lorenzo Pignoria added  his appendix Seconda Parte delle Imagini de gli Dei Indiani displays detailed illustrations of some archeological remains portraying Mexican, Egyptian, Indian and Japanese gods, seeking ‘a sort of unique visual language in pre-Christian religions.  It is bound in ….

As many of you already know I am greatly influenced by the book : Mysteriously Meant: TheRediscovery of Pagan Symbolism and Allegorical Interpretation in the Renaissance

Published January 1, 1970 by Professor Don Cameron Allen (who died in 1972).

Economy Books

 It is a book which, when I first found it ten years after publication in a used book store “Economy books” in Syracuse NY. I was set on a strange trajectory which I had been in preparation of for many years.     In chapter nine there is a sentence which appealed to many divergent parts of my intellectual curiosity

‘the objects discovered in the soil of antiquity were as hungry for allegorical exposition as the texts, and there were antiquarians who could extract as much  wisdom from the reverse of a coin … as the best literary interpreters’ (p. 247).

And the was my introduction to, Boccaccio, Giraldi, and Cartari, Comutus, Capella, Unknown 2Fulgentius, Isidore of Seville, Conti, Aeneas Vico, De Choul,  and they were in a way all equivalently obscure, and most excitingly ‘new’… at the time I was far more familiar with material artifacts of  the Greeks & Romans,Ancients and exotic peoples their Art, Coins and Architecture than western literature, so the first 8 chapters were very opaque to me. And so off to the Bird Library to see about ..Cartari, because he somehow had access to Mexican Codex Vaticanus 3738, Codex Telleriano-Remensis and at that time  was obsessed with Myans. Since then I have always been on the hunt of copies and editions of Cartari.  Three years later rereading John Milton’s Paradise Lost I recognised  a familiar phrase..

Dreaming by night under the open Skie,                                                     And waking cri’d, This is the Gate of Heav’n                                                                                                                                           Each Stair mysteriously was meant, nor stood                                                                                        There alwayes, but drawn up to Heav’n somtimes                                                                     Viewless, and underneath a bright Sea flow’d

(book 3 .514-518)

The Current edition of Cartari in my inventory is… PRINTED In Padova, Nella stamparia di Pietro Paolo Tozzi. 1626

IMG_4226 2

It has  two double-page woodcuts and 227 full-page and in-text woodcuts of the ancient gods by Cesare Malfatti.  first published in Venice in 1556, (without wood cuts and there after each edition added  more woodcuts of the ancient gods) This edition the “Seconda novissima”.   This is the First Edition in which the antiquarian and egyptologist who was also  interested in the sciences, and a friend of Galileo. Lorenzo Pignoria added  his appendix Seconda Parte delle Imagini de gli Dei Indiani


This is a very nicely illustrated book on the the images of God throughout the world. These woodcuts by Filippo Ferroverde were made for the 1615 edition to replace and correct and introduce new imagesthe earlier engravings of Zalteare.   The captioned images of the pagan gods are in the Italian vernacular.  The systematic integration of text and image constituted an original approach to the classical myths, and the use of the vernacular IMG_4234made the text accessible to learned and unlearned alike. Designed for Painters and sculptors and poets alike.  Cartari’s iconographical, symbolic interpretation of the images of the pagan gods as they were represented in antiquity and discussed by Renaissance antiquarians proved to be an enormously popular approach to pagan myth.  Cartari’s Alegorical readings as well as the woodcut images were popular and influential, early modern literature abounds with about atributations and direct quotes as well as Cartari’s sources quoted directly, rather than catarrh, Robert Burton in the Anatomy of Melancholy  does this quite often.  Burton writes:

IMG_4249” These images I say were all out as gross as the shapes in which they did represent them:  Jupiter with a ram’s head, Mercury a dog’s, Pan like a Goat, Hecate with three heads, one with a beard, another without; see more in Carterius and Verdurius of their monstrous forms and ugly pictures”

These Images were well known to  artists,  from the sixteenth century to certainly nineteenth century.   Some of them include: Shakespeare, Pierre de Ronsard, Lope de Vega,  John Marston, George Chapman, Milton, Ben Jonson, Shelly, Rossetti, Blake.

¶  Perhaps as Interesting are the hundreds of source Which Catari refers to or quotes.  Eusebius’s Praeparatio evangelica, Saint Augustine, Aristotle, Boethius, Pausanias, Macrobius, Plutacrh, Petrarch, Seneca, “Sudias” , Boccaccio’s Genealogie deorum gentilium, and many many more! 

The 1615 edition has annotations of  philologist Lorenzo Pignoria who added extra text and notes.  In 1626 the present copy includes the The Seconda Parte delle Imagini de gli Dei Indiani, is a second volume containing a short series of images of Mexican and Japanese deities. I  find the second section quite remarkable!


His source for the American gods was the Mexican Codex Vaticanus 3738. It was  created between 1570 and 1589, either in the highland of Mexico or it may have already existed in Italy, similarly as in the case of the Paris Codex Telleriano Remensis; a copy of a joint original draft which Robert H. Barlow named the “Codex Huitzilopochtli”. While the Codex Telleriano Remensis clearly is written by several writers, the Codex Vaticanus 3738 contains only one style, however divided into cosmological, mythological and ethnographical sections. The hypothetically collected manuscript served as a draft for the final work and it is this fact without a doubt which accounts for the great value of this manuscript.  The seemingly well-known author, Dominikaner Pedro de los Rios (who the Codex Rios is named after) is responsible for the Italian text from the original 101 folio written on European paper.

IMG_4257  ¶  In his prologue, Pignoria follows the argument that paganism alias idolatry (whether Greco-Roman or contemporary) is a foreshadowing of Christianity, because these false religions derived from the Christian truth. He was not a believer in polygenesis: 350 years before Thor Heyerdahl, he maintained that the Egyptians had the seafaring skills to reach Mexico: after all, many accounts of America were thought mere fables until Columbus went there and proved them true.

IMG_4259IMG_4260IMG_4262IMG_4263IMG_4264IMG_4234IMG_4243IMG_4241IMG_4244IMG_4250IMG_4252IMG_4249IMG_4254IMG_4257IMG_4258IMG_4259IMG_4260IMG_4262IMG_4263IMG_4264With the “Images of the gods of the ancients”, Cartari created the first, very successful Italian mythographic manual in the vernacular, widespread and translated throughout modern Europe.

343J harp

Above all, however, it introduces the millennial heritage of classic fables and exegeses, of Egyptian, Middle Eastern, Saxon openings, to a new interpretation. The divinities and their processions of minor creatures, legendary anecdotes and identifying attributes follow one another according to an iconic and selective cut. In triumphs imbued with refined neo-Platonic Petrarchism and emblematic Renaissance picta poesis, only the figurative and distinctive aspects of the mythical characters parade: so that all things related to ancient figures are “fully told”, “with the images of almost all the gods, and the reasons why they were so painted ». Thus, the “Imagini” meet the favor of educated readers and elegant courtiers, painters and potters, poets and craftsmen. They prepare a sort of “user manual” ready with the poet’s ink or the artist’s brush, an evocative collection of “figurative booklets” taken from both the manner of Paolo Veronese or Giorgio Vasari, as well as the classicism of the Carracci and Nicolas Poussin. Finally, they reveal themselves to be a summa scholar capable of attracting notes and revisions: the Paduan antiquarian Lorenzo Pignoria, in 1626, adds archaeological and comparative appendages, interested in the remote reign of the pharaohs as far as exotic oriental and New World idols are concerned.


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#1 Vincenzo Cartari, Images of the Gods of the Ancients: The First Italian Mythography, translated and annotated by John Mulryan. Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies vol. 396. Tempe, AZ: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2012

Praz 36; Cicognara 4686; Graesse II.56; Nagler XXII.15, ; Harvard 156.108; JCB Library catalogue; 2:198; Sabin 11104.;  BM. STC.(Ital.) 152.; ‘Choix 4280. See Also: Mortimer, Italian, 108 note. Caillet 2047 (French trans.) Brunet I,1601. Graesse II,56.Univ. Cat of Art, 287. Arntzen & Rainwater H35.Dekesel 16th, C11.                                                                                     And :

1)Sonia Maffei, ‘Le imagini de i Dei degli antichi di Vincenzo Cartari: Dalla poesia all’archeologia’ http://dinamico2.unibg.it/cartari/leimaginideiDei.html
2) Marco Urdapilleta Muñoz, ‘El bestiario medieval en las crónicas de Indias (siglos XV y XVI)’, Latino América, Revista de Estudios Latinoamericanos, 58 (2014), 237-70. 5160.235500
3) Miguel A. Rojas Mix, América imaginaria (Barcelona, 1992) LB.31.b.10858
4) Rosa López Torrijos, La mitología en la pintura española del Siglo de Oro (Madrid, 1985). YV.1988.b.1010 María Jesús Lacarra, Juan Manuel Cacho Blecua, Lo imaginario en la conquista de América (Zaragoza, 1990). YA.1997.a.7376
5) Mercedes Aguirre at 11:59:11 in Americas , Collections , Latin America , Medieval history , Mexico , Rare books. BL.
6) Mexican Codex Vaticanus 3738