De civitate Dei (City of God)

This edition of the City of God contains on its title-page a border illustration by Hans Holbein which, in fact, illustrates another work, the Tabula Cebetis (Tablet of Cebes). Written in Greek probably in the first or second century AD this is an allegory of human life. A group of visitors enter a sanctuary and puzzle over an enigmatic painting showing figures moving round a series of enclosures. An old man explains that it represents the journey towards purity and that the figures personify various virtues and vices. He goes on to describe how souls enter the first enclosure under the supervision of Genius. In the bottom right corner of Holbein’s engraving, Genius can be seen ushering a crowd of infant souls into the first enclosure.

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Edited by Johannes Vives (1493-1540)

Metalcut border by Hans Holbein the Younger (1497-1543); woodcuts

In Latin; 810 pages, 353 x 235 mm

Possibly contemporary wooden-boarded binding which has been re-covered in the seventeenth or early eighteenth century, and provided with new endleaves: brown calfskin with blind tooling