Download Full Text (180 KB)
The frontispiece image in the PSU codex is in the tradition of ‘the education of the prince,’ a popular choice for early printed works, particularly historical chronicles and similar manuscripts related to ancient times.
A portal with columns provides an entrance into the book, and also encloses and protects its contents. This shape, echoing the triumphal arches of classical antiquity, was a popular motif in renaissance publishing. Along with the king’s crown worn on top of a turban-like head wrap, the columns and arches suggest a connection to classical antiquity. Although most images do not reference an artist, making it nearly impossible to trace the origin of specific woodblocks, this particular image appears in books from at least three other late fifteenth-century publishers.
This image was also used for another highly popular fifteenth-century book: a collection of ancient eastern parables originally written in Sanskrit, and translated into Latin from Hebrew in the twelfth century. The use of identical images in the two texts strongly suggests thematic ties between the two, rendering them worthy of the same opening visual in the minds of their publishers.
Incunabula, Illumination, Illustration, History of the Book, History of Printing
Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque Art and Architecture | European History | Medieval History
Bonilla, Amanda, "The Frontispiece Woodcut in the Fasciculus temporum in Portland State University’s Codex" (2020). Extra-Textual Elements. 2.