Join Professor Mara Wade as she explains the history and significance of emblem books, while showcasing a fascinating recent acquisition to the RBML collection.
The unique copy of Alciato’s emblems recently purchased by the University of Illinois offers a splendid example of social practices surrounding the emblem. Emblematum Liber was first published in Latin in 1531, and within a very short period of ca. 200 years, over 170 editions were published, including translations into French, German, Spanish, and Italian. Often seen as a form of intellectual recreation — a word and picture puzzle — the ideal emblem type has three parts: a motto, an enigmatic picture, and an epigram that leads the interpretation of the first two elements. Often scholars would translate emblems to sharpen their skills and as a form of entertainment, and the Illinois copy of Alciato’s Emblematum Liber offers valuable insights into the practice of translating emblems.