April 19, 2004

Moralia Bornitiana

Here are some emblems from another of the books in the Herzog August Bibliothek (see the previous entry, here), which I present in lieu of having anything more worthwhile to write about. The source this time is a 1678 emblem book by one Jakob Bornitz: Moralia Bornitiana Hoc est: Symbola Et Emblemata Politico-Sacra Et Historico-Politica

Emblem III from Sylloge I of the 'Moralia Bornitiana'.


Emblem VI from Sylloge I of the 'Moralia Bornitiana'.

As usual, I’ve just cut out a few of the images that caught my eye when I leafed through the on-line edition of the book. For example, I liked the ‘Stairway to Heaven’ image above: who knows, this could be one of Led Zeppelin’s very earliest influences…

Emblem XI from Sylloge I of the 'Moralia Bornitiana'.


Emblem XVI from Sylloge I of the 'Moralia Bornitiana'.

I think the large bird (second picture up), is supposed to be an eagle, but it has, to me, a disconcertingly poultry-like look about it. Perhaps this impression was strengthened by the surprising number of emblems in the book that feature chickens. In the other image above we see the stilts of youth worn down to become the walking-sticks of old age.

Emblem XXV from Sylloge I of the 'Moralia Bornitiana'.


Emblem I from Sylloge II of the 'Moralia Bornitiana'.

For me the single most striking image in the Moralia is the hovering mouthless heart-face, above, which, I presume, is making some or other point about the word of God, but, my knowledge of Latin being so meagre, I can’t figure out exactly what.

Emblem V from Sylloge II of the 'Moralia Bornitiana'.


Emblem XVI from Sylloge II of the 'Moralia Bornitiana'.

Also intriguing is the last engraving here, where we see some proto-rockstar behaviour as this musician, evidently out of his mind on ale or wine, improvises a percussion solo with his instrument… Click on the images to see enlarged versions of the same.

Posted by misteraitch at April 19, 2004 03:06 PM | TrackBack

Beautiful! And I like the fool cavorting, and the venus on a unicycle (?).

Posted by: mjones on April 19, 2004 05:32 PM

These are wonderful. I can see some hip indie band using each one for a different CD single cover from their new release.

Posted by: Charles on April 20, 2004 05:08 AM

If my latin knowledge (dating back to 20 years ago) does not fail, "VERBO ET SIGNIS EFFICAX DEUS" could be interpreted in this way: "with words (i.e. preaching) and images (i.e. idols) the existence/presence of God is made tangible and, from the Church point of view, efficient".

Posted by: Tiberio on April 20, 2004 10:51 AM

Thanks for the translation, Tiberio!

Posted by: misteraitch on April 21, 2004 03:58 PM

If your French is any better, see

Posted by: John on April 22, 2004 04:48 AM
Comments are now closed