Profits to authors are an even trickier subject of study. Authors who failed to profit or who felt they did not do so sufficiently complained loudly enough. (We saw the examples of Antonio Mancinelli and Jean Pellisson in sections 3.01 and 3.02.) But those who profited adequately did not record the fact directly. In any case, rewards in the educational market were widely and unevenly distributed. An author might be paid in several ways. He might get a commission, fee, or honorarium; he might receive a portion of the print run in return for his services; or he might take his profits less tangibly in the prestige of a publication or in the convenience of having his textbooks readily available for use in his own school. He might profit in all these ways at once. We have good evidence for all these forms, but there are not enough figures to allow for quantification or comparison, much less meaningful generalization. There is no way to know if a given contract or payment was frugal or generous, standard or exceptional. The cases for which we have the greatest amount of detail -- Bonciari in Perugia, for example, or Mancinelli at Velletri and Rome -- suggest that local traditions of study, provincial reputations, personal networks of patronage, and small-town civic pride were the most important factors in how well a given teacher was paid and how well his brand of humanism sold on the print market. His textbook sales are never mentioned.
In larger, less provincial cities, textbook authors did not usually profit directly from repeat sales. Once a given textbook had proven itself in the market, it was up to the publisher to decide whether it merited the added investment of a second or further editions. The "Despauterian" case is particularly telling in this way. De Spauter himself tinkered with his textbooks throughout his later life. He may have profited from the new editions, but there is no direct evidence for it except that his publishers continued to encourage and advertise his revisions. Similarly, Jean Pellisson apparently did not profit from or even authorize any of the early reprints of his own elementary textbook; but he did re-assert control of it when he revised it for a later edition. In a second stage of his publishing career, Pellisson edited and abridged De Spauter for the French market. Presumably he was paid for that work, but again the texts he devised got away from him and were widely reprinted throughout France during his lifetime and after. Still later, Pellisson's "Despauterian" textbooks were imported into the Italian market, and it was up to the Italian publishers to decide whether they were marketed primarily as Pellisson's work or De Spauter's. Neither author profited at this point. Theirs had become brand names for a pedagogical style, used by many publishers who sold textbooks marketed under the emblematic logos of their own presses. Similarly, Andrea Alciati probably never profited directly from his popular emblem collection. After a period of attempting to correct and add to it, he abandoned it to the realm of pure celebrity.
Humanism was for sale, then, in many ways, but it did not have a single market or price structure. Textbooks offer some of the most concrete evidence we have for the economic dimensions of humanism, but even they can only tell us part of the story. They offer hints as to the needs of students and the desires of parents. They tell us a great deal about the role of printers and publishers in creating a market for learning. Textbooks also tell us about the internal logic of the school disciplines, both traditional and new ones. Many textbooks offer windows on the classrooms of local schools with local traditions of pedagogy and printing. Most vividly, however, textbooks represent the highly self conscious, highly rhetorical presupposition of their authors that learning was a goal in several ways: for professional advancement or other practical reasons, for moral improvement, and as an end in itself.]]>
Seen in this broad context, Manuel Alvares, S.J. must be considered one of the radical reformers. His reform of the Latin course was fully classicizing, Romanizing, and motivated by the larger Jesuit program of studies. He was radical in that he truly realized the antiquarian aims of earlier humanists. He propounded pure Latinity, rejection of all post-classical forms, a rigorous system of rules and exceptions, even abandoning mnemonic verses. In this last innovation his fellow Jesuits deserted him; they restored the mnemonic verses almost as soon as Alvares was in his grave. But his grammar achieved another radical goal that had not been part of the humanist program, divorcing Latin from Christian literature and from the long-held idea that Latin grammar was a moral art in itself. The Jesuits had their own, more philosophical approach to morals and they were willing to make Latin over into a tool without intrinsic moral power.
In this regard, the Jesuits were thoroughly modern and forward-looking, for most language textbooks of the future would do the same. Slowly across the long sixteenth century a new market emerged for teaching and learning tools in vernacular languages. We have seen that at first these books too emphasized morality as the proper context of learning. Indeed they did so stridently and defensively, probably because their authors feared that they were putting powerful intellectual tools once an elite monopoly into the hands of relatively unschooled commoners. But the expanding vernacular market slowly demanded more instrumental textbooks -- simplified, skills-oriented, unburdened with philosophical or moral goals. Early modern textbooks never achieved anything like the twentieth-century ideal of value-free content, but they did move gradually in the direction of skills-based education. Moreover, whether Latin or vernacular, a textbook with no pretensions to higher values was a mere commodity. It was easier to buy and sell and more broadly palatable in a Europe increasingly riven by nationalistic and religious rivalries.]]>
These non-commercial ideals of persuasive rhetoric did not fail or even weaken when they entered the print market. On the contrary, they found a new and wider audience. Across the late Middle Ages and the early modern period, they increasingly displaced less rhetorical models of Christianity. (4) They remained the highest ideals of European civilization for centuries. In one way or another they are still with us.
Printing, however, slowly became the primary rhetorical medium, and the new medium imposed new norms. Philology, not just morality, became both a selling point and a goal in life. The case of Terence shows how productive the new print reality could be but also how constraining the classroom context was. In the first forty years of printing Terence, the market was almost exclusively for teaching editions that contained poorly edited texts. The value added by printers was largely in the form of old and new commentaries. These editions looked solemnly the same and were in fact largely unoriginal. But the philological work embodied in the many competing commentaries slowly built momentum for a real revision of the text. Finally, just around 1500, a vastly improved text could be offered, one that set a new standard and stimulated further editorial work that would continue into the eighteenth century.
The sixteenth century also saw many new packages for teaching Terence. These classroom formats determined competitiveness in the market. The text of Terence was so intimately connected with Latin-language learning that it never quite had a literary life of its own. The great moments of philological progress on the text (Poliziano's notes, Aldo's edition, and later Faerno's) caused a certain amount of scholarly excitement, it is true; but philological advances were quickly absorbed by the textbook market and the competition reverted to being one between publishers who touted new classroom formats or teacher-editors of note. However beloved and imitated, Terence remained a school author.
The market for elementary Latin grammars displayed many of the same characteristics as that for intermediate school authors like Terence. Originality was rarely an issue, and what novelties there were usually concerned bringing old rules and proof-texts up to date by reference to ongoing philological research on the classics. Grammar textbooks were particularly unstable because they were almost never more than exercise pieces. Every teacher at every period felt free to modify them for his own classroom. Marketing for such textbooks relied heavily on the reputations of modern authors and editors. Guarino, Perotti, Mancinelli, De Spauter, Priscianese, and Bonciari each in turn became a brand name for a kind of textbook or a kind of pedagogy.
The rhetoric of selling textbooks changed relatively little before the mid-sixteenth century. Latin was marketed in print just as it had been by the earliest humanists, in threefold fashion: as a career-enhancing professional language, as the key to the treasures of ancient wisdom, and as a morally improving discipline. Different authors emphasized one or another of these themes, but they all appeared repeatedly. Authors and editors in the early sixteenth century did devise and sell new packages for the Latin course. Some emphasized the novelty of the textbooks themselves -- better type or design -- but most also claimed, like De Spauter and his followers, to be offering a more effective Latin pedagogy. Mostly these claims meant more and better-defined drills and, on the level of book design, clearer and better paradigms and other diagrammatic aids to memorization.
Open Bibliography (330 KB pdf)
3 Elkins 1999, 209-212.
4 Rummel 1995, 3-7, 193-195.
Beyond the textbook market, and even sometimes within it, humanists were buyers too. A large portion of the literary discourse of the sixteenth century appeared in books and pamphlets that were subsidized by their authors so thoroughly that they were in fact simply buying publishing services from a local press. For some publishers and in some cities, this kind of vanity publishing was the norm, representing the largest single part of their finances. (1) In such cases it is not strictly correct to speak of a marketplace, except insofar as the subsidies created products that then went onto the market without substantial risk to the printer. By contrast, most textbooks were published for a truly competitive, even cutthroat market. The rare exceptions -- largely Latin grammars for a single schools subsidized by teachers who either did not approve of older, standard texts or wanted to make a career with something under their own name -- can be spotted easily. They had no imitators and no afterlife. (2)
In a much larger sense, however, humanists sold ideas retail, piece by piece, because a hallmark of humanist thought was the creation and adaptive re-use of commonplaces. Commonplaces took many commercial forms. Oratory had always been a well-rewarded art, and sermons in particular were confected out of commonplaces from ancient times forward. In the later Middle Ages they were collected and sold in manuscript form; and sermon collections would become a staple of the new print culture precisely because they sold well. Humanist sermons in Latin were a small sub-genre, but they were perhaps more venal than other sermons in that they were most often delivered in college or court chapels for wealthy and powerful patrons, not directed to the general public. The humanist sermon was an elitist performance, intended (among other things) to advance the career of its author. Another highly visible form of oratorical commonplace was the secular humanist speech, often a panegyric delivered at court, in a civic setting, or in the schools. Orations of this sort paid well too, whether in honoraria, patronage, or prestige.
The commonest and most obviously commercial humanist commonplaces were sold in print. Every kind of humanist literature proceeded by commonplace, and so every humanist-inspired book retailed commonplace thoughts. Some genres were more thoroughly commonplace than others, and textbooks were prominent among them because they were by their nature introductory treatments, composed in small, well-labeled sections designed to be easily digestible by young or inexperienced readers. Textbooks in turn helped create habits of mind that informed all humanist writing. Even Erasmus' Adagia or Alciati's Emblemata, the grandest of all commonplace books, partook of this digestive, ruminative character.
Open Bibliography (330 KB pdf)
(1) See the important recent study of the Florentine publisher Marescotti by Bertoli 2007, esp. 87-92.
(2) One exception, discussed in section 7.10, was Girolamo Cafaro. The first edition of his grammar bears all the hallmarks of a vanity press publication, but his gamble for fame succeeded, since the book went on, in revised form, to have a long life on the competitive market.
Both North-South and Catholic-Protestant differences disappear entirely if we turn to the other major practical application we discussed in section 7.05, the emblematic printer's mark. Unlike educational emblems, emblematic printer's marks were regularly and consistently used in Italy. In part this simply reflects the continuing traditionalism and particularism of Italian educational practice. Increasingly cut off from the Protestant North, Italy's schools failed to respond to humanist educational reforms that were too closely linked in the minds of Italian churchmen to Reformation spirituality. Meanwhile, the progress of the Catholic Reform led educators in Italy in different practical directions -- even, as we saw in the case of Terence (section 1.19), attempts to limit the teaching of highly traditional school authors.
Even more than highlighting the traditionalism of the schools, however, the varying European experiences of using emblems point up that the emblematic printer's mark somehow escaped the kind of circumscribing religious and political censorship that affected other sorts of emblematics. The printer's mark preceded the literary emblem as a form and was an established part of printing practice and intellectual life before the start of the Reformation. It would survive and flourish long after emblem books became mere curiosities. It held its prominent place on Catholic and Protestant books alike and disappeared from view only rarely, when the printer needed to be invisible because the book might be considered heterodox or subversive. We may well ask what mysterious force the printer's mark owned. The textbook market, as durable and multiform as the marks themselves, offers us an easy test case for the meaning and power of the emblematic printer's mark. (67)
Although the form was no more than fifty years older than the emblem, the printer's mark was part of a publishers' lingua franca throughout Europe. It had quickly arrived in Africa, the Far East, and the New World on the title pages of books carried by traders, missionaries, and conquistadores. Religious and missionary works were among these books because the spread of Christianity was a primary goal of official European travelers; but the need to educate new Christians to European languages and political norms was equally urgent. Teachers in the outposts of empire would provide a ready market for textbooks. It is no surprise, then, that carefully branded editions of Cicero and Terence, De Spauter, Perotti or Alvarez, Alciati or Hugo were read in Lima and Boston, in Quebec and Manila and Cape Town and Goa. In those outposts of European imperialism, printer's marks endorsed the quality of editions that bore them and bespoke the bona fides of their publishers.
Thus, we must posit a distinct school of emblematic thought that embraces the printer's mark, sets it off from other kinds of emblems, and accounts for its survival well past the greatest vogue of emblem books proper. Whatever other force and meaning it had, the emblematic printer's mark was a commercial object, the ancestor of modern, pictorially allusive advertising. (68) We have seen how it compared to emblems on early posters in this regard, since in both cases the emblem stood relatively alone, with a single-minded communicative goal, and without immediate reference to other printed objects. On a title page or in a colophon the emblem's primary function was as a label and guarantee in the market for books. It had no pretensions to be an educational tool or an ideological symbol in itself. Nor was it a moralizing literary genre. In some ways it retained the playfulness of the original emblems of Alciati. Beyond its role as a hallmark, it was mostly a puzzle and a mental exercise --no more, no less.
Given these conventions of creation and use, the emblematic printer's mark was an important locus of mediation between book workers and book users. The mark symbolized both cultural unity in the European book market and also the pride of individual makers in their work. Even as Europe tore itself apart religiously and politically in the long sixteenth century, and while governments at every level sought to exploit and control the press, book workers claimed a universal brotherhood and the right to communicate directly with each other and with their public. Students learned a common way of reading images from the marks on the title pages of their textbooks. A quick way for a teacher to find or locate the right textbook in a crowded shop was to spot the Jesuit monogram or the mark of a trusted publisher -- the Aldine anchor, the Giunta lily, or the griffin of Giovanni Griffio -- according to his preference for this or that brand in a particular unit of the curriculum. Government and church authorities too kept an eye out for the marks of suspect printers and even more for heterodox books that did not guarantee their truth with a proper printer's mark. In anticipation of a much more modern mindset, emblems on books allowed Europeans to act locally even as they more and more often thought globally.
Open Bibliography (330 KB pdf)
(67) Cf. Moss 1999, 146-148.
(68) Elkins 1999, 209-212.
We do know of a few specific instances of educational, even classroom use of emblems in Italy. What we know of them, however, reinforces our sense that they were exceptional and suggests as well the ways in which the Italian emblem "scene" was distinct from that of Northern Europe. Above all, Italian educational emblems almost always trained students in devising or resolving the esoteric dimensions of the emblem or impresa, not in the potential pastoral or popularizing functions of the form that were most important in emblem making elsewhere. Even the Jesuit emblems of the Imprese di tre Academie follow the Italian tradition and not that of northern emblem making. Though the emblems all relate to a specific Christian doctrine, the chastity of the Virgin Mary, they do so for the sake of creating collegiality among an elite group of students. The lengthy explications are weighted down with citations from classical and Christian literature. And the student authors explicitly measured their imprese against the standards for the genre described in the most prestigious Italian manual of emblem making, Scipione Bargagli's Delle Imprese, which had seen print in successively larger editions between 1578 and 1594. (65)
Outside the Jesuit colleges, Italian teachers seem to have used emblems only occasionally if at all. The humanist schools of the fifteenth century included intensive study of Christian symbols. Students also studied and composed ecphrastic poetry that evoked the works of Christian art displayed in churches and other public places. This older tradition of literary image-making and image-reading was an essential part of the humanist rhetoric curriculum. It was replaced in Italian schools only rarely by the study or creation of true emblems, and then only late in the sixteenth century as far as we can tell. By sharp contrast to French, German, and Dutch schools, where an abundance of evidence points to frequent emblem-making, there are only a few documentable examples of emblems in use in Italian schools. The Milanese educationist Giulio Porri, writing in 1561, recommended using adages, mottoes, proverbs, stories, fables, and similes in stimulating students to good morals through literature; only as an afterthought does he recommend an image, and then in terms that suggest he is thinking not of an emblem but a more conventional painting or print. (66)
By the middle of the seventeenth century, preaching, iconographic programs, and religious publishing had made the emblem ubiquitous in Italy, even for parts of the public relatively unschooled in Latin. The Counter-Reformation may be credited with this flourishing of the public emblem. Preaching and meditative manuals, art works commissioned for the churches of every religious order and even for parish churches, posters and shop signs --all these forms could function emblematically. Most did so on several levels at once, from esoteric to streetwise. Thus, a single emblem (like the poster of the Wounds of Christ examined above) could serve as the basis for elaborate, private meditative practice, as the pompous, communitarian symbol of a confraternity, and also as a call to prayer aimed at the whole populace of Rome, native and pilgrim alike.
Open Bibliography (330 KB pdf)
(64) Bregoli Russo 1990, 225-240; Ciardi 1995, 38-45; Maggi 1997, 17-23; Maggi 1998b, 368-369; Maggi 2000a, 116-121 and 2000b, 212-215; Manning 2002, 73-79.
(65) Imprese 1603, 2-6, 36-40; Maggi 1998b, 370-371.
(66) Turchini 1996, 317.
Part of Hugo's approach to younger students was his extensive use of adolescent guardian angels, and even more often child-angels, as protagonists in the images. These angels appeared alongside adults or children who represented the souls of the penitent. For example, Hugo and his engraver-collaborator Boëce van Bolswert (ca. 1580-1633) illustrated the Psalm-verse "Lord thou knowest my foolishness" with a cherubic guardian angel who covers his eyes rather than behold the antics of a fool. (53) The fool is depicted in more adult form than the angel, but they are about the same height, so their ages remain ambiguous. More important to understanding the dynamic of the child-angel is the fact that the angel is not mentioned in the motto or the poem and really plays no functional role in the theme of this emblem. The cherub here merely stands in for the reader as viewer of the emblematic action. In some cases both the guardian angel and the soul are children. (54)
Interestingly, the first edition of Hugo's Pia desideria published in Italy (Milan, 1634) took considerable freedom with these children and cherubs. Very occasionally, the childlike figures were preserved, as for example when both Dutch and Italian editions portrayed a childlike penitent before a bench at which a cherubic judge presides. (55) Sometimes the figures have merely aged a few years at Milan. The emblem for Job10,20, "Shall not the fewness of my days be ended shortly?" displayed a pair of very young children in 1624 and a pair of older ones in 1634. (56) More often however, the artist for the Milanese edition (probably Carlo Bianchi, fl. 1610-1635) made the protagonists over completely into adolescents or adults. The angel and the fool, for example, are both adults in the Milan version of Emblem I,5. In the very next emblem a child angel consoles a sick adult in 1624, but the angel in 1634 is clearly adolescent and not childlike. (57) Hermann Hugo and Boëce van Bolswaert apparently thought that introducing child actors and childlike observers was important to the thematic development of the book or to its potential audience. But Bianchi either did not understand this aim or had a different audience in mind. The 1634 Milan edition is dedicated to an aristocratic nun, so the publisher may have been thinking of convent readers rather than children. (58)
The Jesuits seem to have been particularly fond of chubby children. The Typus Mundi, published by the Antwerp Jesuit college in 1627 is full of them, often in improbable situations. There was little obvious reason to introduce a little angel into the scene of a table full of forged coins that illustrates the motto, "All that glitters is not gold" (Non omne, quod hic micat, aurum est).
Nor did it add much to show both an adult bourgeois and a cupid falling from the spinning globe in an emblem that illustrates the instability of social standing. John Manning opines that "the use of children in emblem books was part of a palpable design on the reader, and it mattered little…whether this reader was an adult or a child. ...Calendar age ceased to matter under Christ's Gospel imperative to become as little children." (59)
This evangelical theme was indeed widespread in emblem literature. But the Antwerp Jesuits had a further goal, I think, to include even their youngest charges into a community of learning where emblematic thinking became second nature. The artists and authors wanted children in the pictures specifically so readers would draw the conclusion that such morals were not for grownups only. Clearly, then, they had an audience in mind that included both real children and also older students who could still identify with children. (60)
Historians have tended to treat the so-called college emblem books in a separate category from other Jesuit emblems. These emblem collections were created and published by single Jesuit colleges. It is difficult to identify a specific audience for them, but they were not mere curiosities, since some titles ran to several editions. Books like these came out of the rhetoric curriculum. They offered completed exercises by advanced students (closely supervised by their instructors, of course). It is not clear that they were intended to be taken back into the classroom in a second moment.
The students do seem to have bought into the notion of the emblem as an entertaining way of learning. Thus, the best known college book, the Typus Mundi, is exceedingly playful; the students made fun of themselves and even of their teachers. As their preface to the reader says, “We are youths, we are rhetoricians. Just when you expect a great deal of us, we play around.” (61)
Inventing emblems was part of the rhetoric curriculum in Italy too, but few Jesuit colleges there produced emblems in print. The single, notable exception is the 1603 Imprese di Tre Academie Partenie, dedicated by its publisher Giovanni Battista Piccaglia to Cesare Speziano, reform-minded bishop of Cremona. This 106-page volume contains only three emblems, one for each of the Jesuit-sponsored Parthenic academies, supposedly extra-curricular confraternities of the Blessed Virgin restricted to small groups of noble students at the three largest Jesuit colleges in Rome, Naples, and Milan. Unlike Jesuit students from the Netherlands or France, these young noblemen did not offer true emblems. Instead, they followed the Italian fashion of inventing imprese, that is, truncated emblems with picture and motto but no explanatory poem. Instead, they provided lengthy prose explications attributed to the student presidents of each academy. It is clear that each academy's impresa was a group project of the advanced rhetoric students. They scoured ancient and medieval literature (and modern encyclopedic works) for learned quotations to embellish their understanding of the symbols chosen. The authors praised, among other things, cooperation among themselves both in spiritual life and in the pursuit of eloquence, chastity and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and real mastery of ancient literature. (62) They also made the point that the emblem of a student collective must be useful to all its members even those of only middling intelligence. (63) There is no doubt that the three emblem essays were separately composed, since the style and tone of each is distinct, but these are students who have learned their lessons well and have thoroughly internalized the Jesuit world view.
Open Bibliography (330 KB pdf)
(53) Emblem I,5; Ps 68, 6: Deus tu scis insipientiam meam.
(54) Manning 2002, 179 adduces "local visual convention" for these child figures and claims that Hugo could not have intended his complex baroque poetry for children. In fact the poems are no more complicated than any other classical or neo-classical poetry given to Latin schoolboys; and the images are simpler than most emblems.
(55) Emblem I,10; Ps 142,2.
(56) Emblem I,13: Numquid non paucitas dierum meorum finietur brevi?
(57) Emblem I,6: Miserere me, domini, quoniam infirmus sum.
(58) Hugo 1634 (CLEJ, no. J637) is dedicated to Lucrezia Maria Sfondrati, prioress of San Paolo Converso at Milan, on which see Baernstein 2002. Compare Hugo 1678 (CLEJ, no. J750), a second Italian edition, also dedicated to an abbess.
(59) 2003, 165.
(60) The inclusion of children was widely practiced in mannerist literature of all sorts; see for example, Gareffi 1981, 70-76.
(61) Typus 1697, p. 9: Juvenes sumus, Rhetores sumus. Si grande quid expectas, ludimus. The words for studying and playing, of course, are the same in Latin; ludimus here means both “we study” and “we play.”
(62) Maggi 1998a, 123, 129-31; Maggi 1998b, 373-377; further on the Italian tradition of Marian emblems, Caldwell 2004, 259-273.
(63) Imprese 1603, 33: …dalle quali parole, e pitture traher potrà qualsivoglia mezzano ingegno nobilissimo sentimento.
The Jesuits employed emblems for a variety of literary and pastoral purposes, and the majority of Jesuit emblem books did not see use in elementary or intermediate courses. But advanced students in the Jesuit colleges were expected to know how to use emblems. For example, when Juan de Pineda. S.J. (1512?-1593) prefixed a series of emblems on a sort of title page to his 1591 commentaries on the book of Job, he clearly assumed that his audience was educated to their proper use. The twelve emblems, one for each chapter of the commentary, had mnemonic value. They also invited the reader to use the commentary as a jumping off point for private meditation. Similarly, the Jesuits used emblems in works of systematic theology, in prayer books, and in preaching manuals that would not have appeared in classrooms of the colleges. Some Jesuit emblems seem to have been designed for the private use of aristocratic laymen as part of the work of spiritual direction that members of the order undertook at Catholic courts across Europe. Again, the Jesuits assumed their former students knew how to use emblems, so we can be sure some formal instruction occurred in the colleges. (49)
Some kinds of Jesuit emblems were very close to curriculum concerns, especially in the context of the residential colleges where members of the Society closely supervised the spiritual life of their charges. Teachers in the colleges, as we have remarked elsewhere, taught Latin grammar as a skill without burdening it overmuch with moral import. But the students learned more than Latin. They also conformed to a rigorous program of religious exercises: daily mass and examination of conscience at an early age, frequent confession and communion, and exercises in meditative prayer. Some Jesuit emblem books follow this spiritual program closely. Almost all of them employ highly emotional language and vivid imagery in keeping with the meditative principles enunciated by Ignatius Loyola.
Scholars have noted that Ignatius seems to have collected religious images for his own devotional use. Jesuit emblem books were comparable collections crystallized in print and intended to be put to use by all who subscribed to the Jesuit religious program. Ignatius commissioned Gerónimo Nadal (1507-1580), the founder of the college at Messina, to compose a gospel paraphrase with illustrations, the Pictures of Gospel History (Evangelicae Historiae Imagines). Some consider this the first Jesuit emblem book. Though not true emblems (since they do not have mottoes), these pictures were used in classrooms; and they functioned very much like emblems by inviting students to visualize the incidents described in the accompanying texts. Nadal’s book embodied the early Jesuits’ belief that pictures were aids to teaching Christian truths, a principle they would go on to incorporate in works as varied as advanced theology texts and illustrated catechisms for the barely literate. (50)
The direct use of true emblems in Jesuit classrooms in Italy is not attested until the Ratio Studiorum of 1599, where suddenly it appeared as an accepted part of the course of rhetoric. Emblem-making was one of composition exercises given to relatively advanced students. Presumably the Jesuits had been experimenting with emblems for some years before they came into use at the Collegio Romano, where the final version of the Ratio was drafted. In the context of formal rhetoric, the emblem was no longer merely a piece of religious art used in the classroom, it was also a functional rhetorical device. It did not just prompt multiple readings or encourage meditation. It also invited rhetorical inventio, the active creation of new literary expression. (51)
Almost all the original Jesuit emblem books were composed in Northern Europe and first published there. Relatively few were reprinted in Italy. One of the most influential Jesuit emblem collections was the Pia desideria of Hermann Hugo(1588-1629). First published in 1624, it received at least fifty five editions in Latin and sixty three vernacular editions, including three in Italian. The Collegio Romano library owned two early Latin editions, neither of them published in Italy. (52) Hugo's images are deliberately charming and straightforward, not mysterious like those in some earlier emblem books. The original poems are moderately complex but carefully crafted to take their starting points from a familiar scripture verses that act as mottoes to the images.
Open Bibliography (330 KB pdf)
(48) Codina Mir 1968, 300-305; Brizzi 1984, 165-170.
(49) Insolera 2004, 198.
(50) Palumbo 1990, 23-37; O'Malley 1993, 11-14; Dimmler 2002, 71-72; Insolera 2004, 192-196.
(51) Bauer 1986.
(52) Hugo 1627 and 1679, now at BNCRome.
The work of Bartolomé Aneau as editor, translator, and arranger of the emblems of Alciati followed this same pattern. Aneau collaborated closely with several Lyon presses, especially that of Macé Bonhomme (fl. 1536-1569) who had two specialties -- textbooks for teachers of Latin and courtesy books in French. Aneau crossed the boundaries between these two genres. He authored numerous works in French, including plays, fables, and proverbs translated from Greek and Latin. We know that some of his own original emblems were composed to fit woodcuts already in the shop of his printer. In order to make the emblem book more useful for moral education and more valuable for lifelong reference, Aneau developed a "new" Alciati, translated into French but also rearranged. Aneau put 201 emblems drawn from Alciati's earlier collections into a single sequence that presented ethical ideals systematically under a series of topics. The resulting collection was useful pedagogically in two ways. On a day-to-day instructional basis, it allowed teachers to present students with puzzles related to everyday decision making. The emblems presented concrete, pictorial ways of working through everyday moral choices. More generally (and educationally speaking in a second, more mature moment), the exercise of reading emblems provided students with an ethical tool for solving more difficult moral dilemmas and making sense of the world at large. It gave them a mirror in which to contemplate an individual's life problems as part of a larger civilizational ideal. (44)
Hunger and Aneau were merely the first of many Renaissance school masters to adapt emblems for school use. Johannes Köhler has suggested that the extensive commentary on Alciati by Claude Mignault (1536-1606), first published in 1576, was largely intended to describe and circumscribe Alciati for classroom use. (45) The bulky work of Mignault, however, was almost surely not put into the hands of children. If Köhler is correct, it was a teacher's manual for using emblems with students. Many individual emblems embody humanist commonplaces about teaching children; and while some seem aimed at the teaching parenting skills, others were clearly addressed to the children themselves. For example, emblems that recommended reading as a fruitful pastime were probably not in the first instance aimed at bookish adults. (46)
In the course of rewriting and popularizing learned emblems for schoolboys and other, even less Latin-literate audiences (in preaching for example), some authors also tried to limit the possible readings that could be given to the innately puzzle-like emblem. There were several strategies for accomplishing this narrowing of meaning in the service of social control. Some authors circumscribed each emblem with commentary that dictated one or another moral meaning rather than offering a variety of interpretations. Another strategy was to change or expand the verses to direct the reader toward one reading or away from another. Some scholars see these re-writers as favoring a passive approach to emblems. Certainly they tended to simplify the experience. But the emblem remained a complex form. Even in its most fixed and determined form, the combination of picture and texts invited imaginative responses. (47)
Open Bibliography (330 KB pdf)
(43) Alciati 1542, 5-6; Köhler 1986, 58; Saunders 1988, 62-70.
(44) Köhler 1986, 61-64; Biot 1996, 86-92, 272-213.
(45) Köhler 1986, 64-69.
(46) Manning 2002, 154-157.
(47) Harms 1973, 59-62; Elkins 1999, 201.