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E. Autograph Manuscripts of Virgil

E. Autograph Manuscripts of Virgil

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2. Quintilian, Institutio oratoria 1.7.20

See above, I.C.19. (Text and translation: Quintilian, The Orator’s Education,

ed. and trans. D. A. Russell, vol. 1, LCL 124 [2001])

Quo modo et ipsum et Vergilium quoque scripsisse manus eorum docent.

That [Cicero] himself and Virgil both used this spelling is shown by their


3. Aulus Gellius

See above, I.C.27. (Text and translation, items a and b: Aulus Gellius, Attic

Nights, ed. and trans. J. C. Rolfe, vol. 1, LCL 195 [1927])

a. Noctes Atticae 1.21.1–2

Versus istos ex Georgicis Vergilii plerique omnes sic legunt

At sapor indicium faciet manifestus et ora

tristia temptantum sensu torquebit amaro [2.246–47].

Hyginus autem, non hercle ignobilis grammaticus, in Commentariis quae in

Vergilium fecit, confirmat et perseverat, non hoc a Vergilio relictum, sed

quod ipse invenerit in libro qui fuerit ex domo atque ex familia Vergilii:

. . . et ora

Tristia temptantum sensus torquebit amaror . . . [Georgics 2.246–47]

Nearly everyone reads these lines from the Georgics of Virgil in this way:

At sapor indicium faciet manifestus et ora

tristia temptantum sensu torquebit amaro.

[But the taste will tell its tale full plainly, and with its bitter

flavor will distort the testers’ soured mouths.]

Hyginus, however, on my word no obscure grammarian, in the Commentaries

that he wrote on Virgil, declares and insists that it was not this that Virgil left,

but what he himself found in a copy that had come from the home and family

of the poet:

et ora tristia temptantum sensus torquebit amaror . . .

[But the bitterness of the sensation will distort the testers’ soured mouths.]

b. Noctes Atticae 2.3.5

Sed quoniam ‘‘aheni’’ quoque exemplo usi sumus, venit nobis in memoriam

Fidum Optatum, multi nominis Romae grammaticum, ostendisse mihi librum Aeneidos secundum mirandae vetustatis, emptum in Sigillariis viginti

aureis, quem ipsius Vergili fuisse credebatur.

But apropos of the inclusion of ahenum among my examples [of authors’

insertion of the aspirate h], I recall that Fidus Optatus, a grammarian of



considerable repute in Rome, showed me a remarkably old copy of the second

book of the Aeneid, bought in the Sigillaria for twenty pieces of gold, which

was believed to have belonged to Virgil himself.

See also Noctes Atticae 9.14.7 and 13.21.4 for further discussions of Virgil’s



The broad category ‘‘Virgilian images’’ includes portraits of the poet as well as

imagery inspired by his works. The term ‘‘portraiture’’ evokes modern notions

of realistic similitude, Virgil as he is described in the early vitae (see above,

II.A). Although ancient texts refer to Roman portrait busts of Virgil, none with

a verifiable identification has survived. Portraiture became more abstract during the late antique and medieval periods, and representations of Virgil emphasized his actions and deeds rather than his features. The celebrated poet became

successively a prophet, wise man, magician, guide, humiliated lover, and

courtly cleric. In addition to portraits of the poet, images based upon Virgil’s

Eclogues, Georgics, and Aeneid also survive, sometimes accompanying Virgil’s

texts, but other times appearing elsewhere, even outside books altogether.

Virgil-inspired imagery is extant in many media, such as mosaic, oil painting, ivory, and vellum, and while the number of objects preceding the twelfth

century is surprisingly sparse, it increases tremendously from the thirteenth to

the fifteenth century. The person of Virgil the poet, in all his medieval guises,

and the content of his poetry both exerted an enormous influence, and the goal

of this survey is to include at least passing reference to the major as well as

some of the minor examples of Virgilian imagery from the centuries following

his death to the year 1500. (DJ)

1. Ancient Textual References to Portraits of Virgil

No portraits contemporary with Virgil’s life have survived that can be positively identified as the poet, but there are numerous references to the commemorative images of him that did once exist.

a. Seneca the Younger, Epistulae morales 58.20

See above, I.C.7. (Text and translation: Seneca the Younger, Epistulae morales,

ed. and trans. R. M. Gummere, vol. 1, LCL 75 [1917])

Ille cum reddere Vergilium coloribus vellet, ipsum intuebatur. Idea erat

Vergilii facies, futuri operis exemplar.

When the artist desired to reproduce Virgil in colors he would gaze upon

Virgil himself. The ‘‘idea’’ was Virgil’s outward appearance, and this was the

pattern of the intended work.

F. V I R G I L I A N I M A G E S


b. Martial 14.186

Quoted above, I.C.20.t.

c. Pliny the Younger, Epistles 3.7.8

Quoted above, I.C.24.a.

d. Suetonius

See above, I.D.2.

In his Vita Caligulae (Life of Caligula) 34.2 Suetonius writes (Text and

translation: Suetonius, The Lives of the Caesars, ed. and trans. J. C. Rolfe, vol. 1,

LCL 31 [1913]):

Cogitavit etiam de Homeri carminibus abolendis, cur enim sibi non licere,

dicens, quod Platoni licuisset, qui eum e civitate quam constituebat eiecerit?

Sed et Vergili ac Titi Livi scripta et imagines paulum afuit quin ex omnibus

bibliothecis amoveret, quorum alterum ut nullius ingenii minimaeque doctrinae, alterum ut verbosum in historia neglegentemque carpebat.

[Caligula] even thought of destroying the poems of Homer, asking why he

should not have the same privilege as Plato, who excluded Homer from his

ideal commonwealth. More than that, he all but removed the writings and

busts of Virgil and of Titus Livius from all the libraries, railing at the former as

a man of no talent and very little learning, and at the latter as a verbose and

careless historian.

e. Historia Augusta

(late fourth century)

The title is a modern invention defining a collection of biographies of Roman

emperors, and of others who held supreme power, from 117 to 284. The most

plausible arguments place the date of its composition circa 390 (see below,

V.A.1). The life of Severus Alexander (circa 209–35, emperor from 222 until

his death) tells of his devotion to Virgil (31.4). (Text and translation: Scriptores historiae Augustae, vol. 2, ed. and trans. D. Magie, LCL 140 [1967–68])


Vergilius autem Platonem poetarum vocabat eiusque imaginem cum Ciceronis simulacro in secundo larario habuit, ubi et Achillis et magnorum virorum. Alexandrum vero Magnum inter optimos et divos in larario maiore


He used to call Virgil the Plato of poets and he kept his portrait, together with

a likeness of Cicero, in his second sanctuary of the Lares, where he also had

portraits of Achilles and the great heroes. But Alexander the Great he en428


shrined in his greater sanctuary along with the most righteous men and the

deified emperors.

2. Late Antique Textual Reference to Portraits of Virgil

(circa 450)

Epistula Rustici ad Eucherium (Letter of Rusticius to Eucherius)

The epistle, which survives in a single manuscript, is addressed by an otherwise unknown Gallic priest named Rusticus to Eucherius, monk of Lérins and

bishop of Lyon, who was active in the first half of the fifth century. (Discussion: M. Vessey, ‘‘Epistula Rustici ad Eucherium: From the Library of Imperial

Classics to the Library of the Fathers,’’ in Society and Culture in Late Antique

Gaul, ed. R. Mathisen and D. Shanzer [Aldershot, 2001], 178–97. For further

commentary, see S. Timpanaro ‘‘Note all’Anthologia Latina,’’ Maia 15 [1963],

386–94.) (Text: K. Wotke, ed., CSEL 31 [1894], 198–99; for the poem, see

AL 1.2, 369, no. 948)

Sed dum haec tacitus mecum revolvo, occurrit mihi quod in bibliothecis

studiosi saecularium litterarum puer quondam, ut se aetatis illius curiositas

habet, praetereundo legissem. Nam cum supra memoratae aedis ordinator

ac dominus inter expressas lapillis aut ceris discoloribus formatasque effigies vel oratorum vel etiam poetarum specialia singulorum autotypis epigrammata subdidisset, ubi ad praeiudicati eloquii venit poetam, hoc modo

orsus est:

Vergilium vatem melius sua carmina laudant,

in freta dum fluvii current, dum montibus umbrae

lustrabant convexa, polus dum sidera pascet,

semper honos, nomenque tuum laudesque manebunt [Aeneid 1.607–9].

But while I silently ponder to myself these things, I remember what I read en

passant as a boy—since curiosity is a mark of that age—in the library of a

scholar of secular literature. For since the proprietor and owner of the aforementioned dwelling had attached individual epigrams to the model-likenesses

of each of either the rhetors or also the poets, in the row of portraits formed

and shaped from mosaics and variegated waxes, when he reached the poet of

unimpeachable eloquence, he began thus:

His own poems praise the poet Virgil best: While rivers run into the sea, while

shades survey the mountains’ slopes, while the heavens feed the stars, your honor,

your name, your praises will ever endure. (MP)

3. Late Antique Virgilian Imagery

Various attempts have been made, most of them unconvincing, to identify

anonymous classical busts as Virgil on the basis of descriptions in the early

F. V I R G I L I A N I M A G E S


vitae. The earliest extant portraits of Virgil are third- and fourth-century mosaics excavated in the outer reaches of the Roman empire, and the generalized

features they portray are sometimes identified by labels.

a. Trier ‘‘Monnus-Mosaic’’

(third century)

During the third century, Trier (Augusta Treverorum) was developed as an

imperial residence. In the mid-1880s, an elaborate mosaic was uncovered on

the plot of land that was being cleared for a new museum. The signature

spelled out in the central panel, ‘‘Monnus fecit’’ (Monnus made [this]),

prompted the appellation ‘‘Monnus-Mosaic’’ for this complex floor mosaic.

The surviving portions represent a configuration of theatrical masks and personifications of the signs of the zodiac, the months, and the seasons interspersed between the nine Muses with accompanying authors and poets.

Eight octagons around a single octagon create the geometric format of this

mosaic, and each octagon pairs a muse with the exemplary recipient of her

inspiration. Calliope, the muse for epic literature, stands with Homer and a

personification of Ingenium (natural talent) in the central octagon. Smaller

framed squares separate the central and radiating octagons, and these contain

labeled bust portraits of Greek and Latin authors. A young Virgil keeps good

company with Ennius, Hesiod, Livy, Cicero, Menander, and two unknowns.

Virgil appears as a beardless young man with the word Vergilius divided on

either side of his head and Maro spelled out below. Since the octagon adjacent

to him has been completely destroyed, there is no way of knowing how his

image might have corresponded with a particular pairing of muse and recipient.

A literary example of authors and muses combined with a cosmological understanding of the cyclical rotation of time can be found in the allegorical prosimetrum (a text that alternates between prose and verse) by Martianus Capella, De

nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii (The Marriage of Philology and Mercury): see

below, IV.Q.12. (Discussion: P. Ho√mann, Römische Mosaike im Rheinischen

Landesmuseum Trier: Führer zur Dauerausstellung [Trier, 1999]; P. Ho√mann,

J. Hupe, and K. Koethert, eds., Katalog der römischen Mosaike aus Trier und dem

Umland [Trier, 1999]; R. W. Daniel, ‘‘Epicharmus in Trier: A Note on the

Monnus-Mosaic,’’ Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 114 [1996], 30–36;

Trier Kaiserresidenz und Bischofssitz: Die Stadt in spätantiker und frühchristlicher

Zeit [Mainz am Rhein, 1984]; W. H. Stahl and R. Johnson, Martianus Capella

and the Seven Liberal Arts, vol. 2: The Marriage of Philology and Mercury [New

York, 1977]; K. Parlasca, ‘‘Die römischen Mosaiken in Deutschland,’’ RömischeGermanische Forschungen 23 [1959], 40–44; F. Hettner, ‘‘Zu den römischen

Altertümern von Trier und Umgegend III, Das Mosaik des Monnus,’’ West430


deutsche Zeitschrift 10 [1891], 248–60; W. Studemund, ‘‘Zum Mosaik des

Monnus,’’ Jahrbuch des Kaiserlich Deutschen Archäologischen Instituts 5 [1890], 1–

5; F. Hettner, ‘‘Das Mosaik des Monnus in Trier,’’ Antike Denkmäler 1 [1889],


b. Hadrumentum Mosaic

A North African floor mosaic from the ancient town of Hadrumentum, now

Sousse, in Tunisia, depicts a full-length Virgil in the seat of honor between two

standing muses. On the poet’s right, the muse, wearing a plainly colored robe

and holding an unrolled scroll, is usually identified as either Calliope for epic

or Clio for history. The muse who stands on Virgil’s left and wears a brightly

patterned robe props her chin in her hand and holds the mask that identifies

her as Melpomene, the tragic muse. No labels within the image name the

seated, beardless man, but the partially opened scroll on his lap reveals the

eighth line of the Aeneid, Virgil’s invocation to an unnamed muse, Musa, mihi

causas memora, quo numine laeso (Aeneid 1.8). (Discussion: K. M. Dunbabin,

Mosaics of the Greek and Roman World [Cambridge, 1999]; idem, The Mosaics of

Roman North Africa [Oxford, 1978]; Louis Foucher, Des Mosaïques, feuille no.

57 de l’Atlas archéologique: Sousse [Tunis, 1960])

c. Low Ham Villa Mosaic

The third- and fourth-century mosaics that survive in Britain depict scenes

from Virgil’s Aeneid rather than images of the poet. This fourth-century floor

mosaic, uncovered in the frigidarium (cooling-room in the bath) of the Low

Ham villa in Somerset, portrays early episodes from the love a√air of Dido and

Aeneas. Four scenes from the Aeneid are arranged around a central octagon

that frames a portrayal of Venus standing between two cupids. Lifting her

slender arms, the goddess drapes a long cloth down behind her; its dark color

provides a stark foil for the simple lines of her nude body. Both cupids hold

torches, but the cupid on the left aims his at the ground, whereas the cupid on

the right holds his upright. The long panel on the left of Venus depicts a

hunting scene with Dido, Aeneas, and Ascanius upon galloping horses, and in

the right panel Trojan ships sail into Carthage and Achates departs as an

emissary to Dido. Simple compositions mask emotionally volatile subject matter in the smaller sections above and below the central octagon: in one, Venus

provokes trouble by sending Cupid as Ascanius to Dido; in another, Dido and

Aeneas passionately embrace each other. The darkly outlined figures enact

their story against a plain white background with only the trees on either side

of the embracing couple to o√er a hint of landscape. Although these images

portray early and enjoyable moments of the Dido and Aeneas story, reference

F. V I R G I L I A N I M A G E S


is made to the pain as well as the joy of love by the cupid in the central panel

who aims his torch down at the ground. The presence of this mosaic in a

private setting has been understood to represent the thriving classical tastes in

Roman Britain and the continued strength of classical learning in the fourth

century. (Discussion: S. Scott, Art and Society in Fourth-Century Britain, Villa

Mosaics in Context [Oxford, 2000]; Martin Henig, The Art of Roman Britain

[Ann Arbor, 1995]; J. M. C. Toynbee, Art in Britain under the Romans [Oxford, 1964])

d. Frampton Mosaic

A fourth-century floor mosaic with a scene from the Aeneid once existed at

Frampton villa but has since perished. This mosaic decorated the floor of a

small room o√ the side of the main hall, where a larger mosaic depicted

Bellerophon and Pegasus slaying the Chimaera. After being excavated in the

eighteenth century, the mosaics were copied as watercolor drawings, which

were the basis for engravings published in the early nineteenth century. In the

smaller mosaic, four square-framed scenes surround a central image of Bacchus, one of which portrays Aeneas holding a spear and plucking the golden

bough. This scene occurs both in Aeneid 6.210–11 and in Ovid’s Metamorphoses 14.113–15 (see above, I.C.1.i.iv). Only two of the other three scenes survived in enough detail to be identified as Cadmus slaying the serpent of Mars

and Perseus overcoming the sea monster. Personifications of the four winds are

framed in round medallions set into the corners, and interlocking squares in

the lowest portion of the mosaic might have contained an image of Venus and

a series of aquatic beasts. The combination of Aeneas plucking the Golden

Bough with these other scenes has been understood in terms of life beginning

and ending with various paths to salvation and rebirth, an intriguing interpretation when compared with the slightly later Christian imagery that appears in the villa. (Discussion: M. Henig, ‘‘James Engleheart’s Drawing of a

Mosaic at Frampton, 1794,’’ Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society

106 [1984], 143–46; D. J. Smith, ‘‘Mythological Figures and Scenes in

Romano-British Mosaics,’’ in Roman Life and Art in Britain, ed. J. Munby and

M. Henig [Oxford, 1977], 105–94)

e. Lullingstone Mosaic

A villa mosaic from Lullingstone, Kent, dated circa 330–60, contains an elegiac

couplet that alludes to Virgil’s Aeneid: Invida si tauri vidisset Juno natatus /

iustius Aeolias isset adusque domos (If jealous Juno had seen the swimming of the

bull, with more justification she would have gone to the home of Aeolus).

This inscription runs across the top of a scene depicting Jupiter as a bull



absconding with Europa. The creator of the mosaic implies that this act of

infidelity—not mentioned by Virgil—should be added to the others cataloged

in book 1 of the Aeneid that provide the emotional catalyst for Juno’s rage and

that spark the ensuing events. This subtle reference assumes on the part of the

viewer a comfortable familiarity with the Aeneid. The Europa floor mosaic

decorates an apsidal dining room that extends back from the central hall of the

villa. Similar to the pavements at Frampton, a large mosaic depicting Bellerophon and Pegasus killing the Chimaera covers the floor of this central room,

though busts of the four seasons rather than personifications of the winds

occupy the four corners.

Although the mosaics vary in subject matter, the decorative floors of these

fourth-century countryside villas take for granted a certain familiarity with

Virgil’s works. The rural location of these villas should not induce a judgment

of ‘‘rustic’’ tendencies, for the wealthy owners of these homes were well educated, as their choice to decorate lavishly using mosaics with mythological and

literary imagery attests. Most of the mosaics adorned public portions of the

villas, either reception or dining halls, where they were on display to visitors.

Additional evidence of a continued appreciation for Virgil’s works in Roman

Britain includes a third-century coin of Carausius whose legend, expectate veni,

might echo Aeneid 2.283; a fragment of tile with the inscription Campanus,

conticuere omnes, the opening words of Aeneid 2; and fragments of wall painting

at the Otford Villa, Kent, which depict portions of a body and part of an

inscription, bina manu, a phrase used in Aeneid 1.313, 7.688, and 12.165.

(Discussion: D. Perring, The Roman House in Britain [London, 2002]; O.

Wattel-de Croizant, Les Mosaïques représentant le mythe d’Europe (premier au

sixième siècles): Évolution et interprétation des modèles grecs en milieu romain

[Paris, 1995]; G. W. Meates, The Roman Villa at Lullingstone, Kent, vol. 1: The

Site [London, 1979]; A. A. Barrett, ‘‘Knowledge of the Literary Classics in

Roman Britain,’’ Britannia 9 [1978], 307–13)

f. The Virgilius Vaticanus

Although it is possible that the mosaics at Low Ham and Frampton were

modeled upon images in manuscripts, the earliest surviving Virgilian manuscript with images, the Virgilius Vaticanus (Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS Vat. lat. 3225, also known as the schedae Vaticanae), is dated circa

400. This manuscript does not survive unscathed, but fifty narrative images

adorn its folios, nine for the Georgics and forty-one for the Aeneid. On the basis

of stylistic and paleographical analysis, it is generally agreed that the Virgilius

Vaticanus was made in Rome and that its images reflect the illusionistic style

popular in fourth-century Roman painting. (Discussion: D. H. Wright, The

F. V I R G I L I A N I M A G E S


Roman Vergil and the Origins of Medieval Book Design [Toronto, 2001]; idem,

The Vatican Virgil: A Masterpiece of Late Antique Art [Berkeley, 1993]; A.

Novara, ‘‘Virgile ‘latin’ ’’ and ‘‘Virgile illustré,’’ Mise en page et mise en texte, du

livre manuscrit, ed. H.-J. Martin and J. Vezin [Paris, 1990], 147–54, 155–62;

T. B. Stevenson, Miniature Decoration in the Vatican Virgil: A Study in Late

Antique Iconography [Tübingen,1983]; F. Mütherich, ‘‘Die illustrierten VergilHandschriften der Spätantike,’’ Würzburger Jahrbucher für die Altertumswissenschaft NF 8 [1982], 205–21)

g. The Virgilius Romanus

The Virgilius Romanus, or Codex Romanus (Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, MS Vat. lat. 3867), dates to approximately 500, a century after the

Virgilius Vaticanus, and the nineteen miniatures preserved in its leaves—seven

for the Eclogues, two for the Georgics, and ten for the Aeneid—are more problematic than those in the earlier manuscript. When the miniatures of the two

manuscripts are compared with each other, those from the Virgilius Romanus

follow conventions generally considered to be more ‘‘medieval,’’ with a flattening of the figures and setting, an emphasis on large features and exaggerated

gestures, and a simplification of line. The skill and style displayed in the miniatures are often deemed inferior to the formal rustic capitals inscribed on the

high-quality parchment of the manuscript, and locations in the provinces

outside of Rome have been posited for their creation. The number of Virgil

manuscripts with rustic capitals led scholars in the Carolingian period to designate the script itself as litterae Virgilianae (Virgilian letters). (Discussion: D. H.

Wright, Codicological Notes on the Vergilius Romanus (Vat. lat. 3867) [Vatican City,

1992]; C. Eggenberger, ‘‘Die Miniaturen des Vergilius Romanus, Codex Vat.

Lat. 3867,’’ Byzantinische Zeitschrift 70 [1977], 58–90; E. Rosenthal, Illuminations of the Vergilius Romanus: Stylistic and Iconographical Analysis [Zurich,


1. An author portrait of Virgil does not survive in either of these manuscripts. However, a faint o√set at the beginning of book 7 of the Aeneid in

the Virgilius Romanus has been considered indicative of a now lost author

portrait. (Discussion: K. Weitzmann, ‘‘Book Illustration of the Fourth

Century,’’ Studies in Classical and Byzantine Manuscript Illumination, ed.

H. Kessler [Chicago, 1971], 115)

2. Three images from the manuscript have also been discussed as author

portraits of Virgil, but there is no firm evidence to support this assumption.

The portraits are three of seven images preceding the Eclogues. All three

rectangular-framed scenes depict a man seated with a book lectern and a



closed capsa, a round container made to store scrolls, on either side of him.

Wearing a white robe, the beardless figure holds on his lap what appears to

be a scroll. These three images correspond with Eclogues 2, 4, and 6, and

they alternate with images of shepherds from Eclogues 1, 3, 5, and 7. Rather

than representing the poet Virgil, these figures possibly continue in the vein

of the shepherd images by portraying the character who is reciting the

poem. A poet named Corydon delivers Eclogues 2, and a rubric, Poeta Corydon, appearing immediately below the image, identifies the figure, just as

the abbreviation, Poe, in the margin designates his text.

3. The pair of miniatures on folios 44v and 45r that open Georgics 3 will

prove relevant for later Virgilian objects. Both square-framed images contain a scattered arrangement of sheep, goats, horses, flowers, leafy sprigs,

and a shepherd’s shack. These pastoral elements are drawn across the surface of the page in a random and scattered design that is frequently compared with contemporary mosaics. This depthless arrangement, at odds

with the illusionistic style of Roman painting found in the Virgilius Vaticanus, occurs first and then consistently with pastoral imagery and motifs.

(Discussion: I. Lavin, ‘‘Hunting Mosaics of Antioch and Their Sources: A

Study of Compositional Principles in the Development of Early Medieval

Style,’’ Dumbarton Oaks Papers 17 [1963], 181–282) (DJ)

h. Baths of Zeuxippos

A statue of Virgil is said to have formed part of the decoration of the Baths of

Zeuxippos in Constantinople, built apparently by Septimius Severus and enlarged by Constantine the Great. The statue perished in a fire in 532, but

before its destruction it became the last of several dozen bronze statues listed

by Christodorus of Koptos (circa 500) in a collection of brief hexameter

descriptions that forms book 2 of the Greek Anthology:

And he stood forth—the clear-voiced swan dear to the Italians, Virgil breathing eloquence, whom his native Echo of Tiber nourished to be another Homer. (The Greek Anthology, ed. and trans. W. R. Paton, vol. 1, LCL 67 [1916])

Several of the other statues depict characters who appear in the Aeneid, at

least one of whom, Entellus, may be Virgil’s invention. The conjunction in one

statue of Entellus with Dares refers to their boxing competition, which formed

part of the games celebrated in Aeneid 5.362–484. For further details see The

Oxford Dictionary of Byzantium, ed. A. Kazhdan (Oxford, 1991), s.v. ‘‘Vergil,’’

2159–60 (entry by P. Agapitos, A. Kazhdan, and A. Cutler). Virgil’s Aeneid

3.301–5 is quoted in Justinian’s Digestum: see B. H. Stolte, ‘‘ ‘Arma virumque

cano’ in Byzantium,’’ in Polyphonia Byzantina: Studies in Honour of Willem J.

F. V I R G I L I A N I M A G E S


Aerts, ed. H. Hokwerda, E. R. Smits, and M. M. Woesthuis, Mediaevalia

Groningana 13 (Groningen, 1993), 105–9. For a detailed discussion, with full

bibliography, of Virgil’s fortunes in the ancient Greek world after his demise,

see G. D’Ippolito, ‘‘Grecia,’’ EV 2, 801–4. (MP and JZ)

4. Flabellum of Tournus

(ninth century)

Virgil’s poetry had a great impact on the poets and scholars of Charlemagne’s

court, as the numerous copies and commentaries on his work attest, but Virgilian imagery dating from this time is surprisingly rare. What has survived,

the so-called Flabellum of Tournus, more than compensates for an otherwise

disappointing dearth of quantity.

A flabellum is a fan used to keep flies away from the altar and Eucharist

during Mass. Christian liturgical practices included fans in the early Middle

Ages, and though the flabellum fell out of use in the West by the later Middle

Ages, it continued to be used in eastern ceremonies. Only a few medieval fans

or portions of fans still exist, but they do not resemble the ninth-century fan

from Tournus, which comprises a cylindrical ivory handle, a wooden box

covered with carved ivory panels, and a long strip of vellum folded into pleats

inside the box. When fully opened, it wraps around the box to form a complete

circle. (Discussion: H. Richardson, ‘‘Remarks on the Liturgical Fan, Flabellum or Rhipidion,’’ The Age of Migrating Ideas: Early Medieval Art in Northern

Britain and Ireland, ed. R. M. Spearman and J. Higgitt [Edinburgh, 1993],

27–34; D. Gaborit-Chopin, Flabellum di Tournus [Florence, 1988]; idem,

Ivoires du Moyen Âge [Paris, 1978], 56–60; L. E. A. Eitner, Flabellum of Tournus

[New York, 1944])

The handle, divided into three sections by round green beads, is carved

with simple fluting and grapevines heavy with fruit and inhabited by birds and

animals. This lush decoration corresponds visually with two of the ivory panels

on the box and with the bands of foliation painted onto the vellum fan. It also

corresponds thematically with the other two sides of the box, which contain

six images based on Virgil’s Eclogues.

a. Set within a carved border of fluted and twisted columns and foliate

decoration painted dark brown and green, each panel is carved with exquisite detail to portray a great deal of subject matter. As Eitner succinctly

describes the first panel, ‘‘the exiled shepherd Meliboeus has come to bid

his friend Tityrus farewell and found him reclining amid his cattle in the

shadow of a beech, playing his song in praise of Amaryllis. . . . Tityrus

guards his cattle, Meliboeus his flock of goats, and in his scant loin cloth



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E. Autograph Manuscripts of Virgil

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