Le Imagini de i Dei de gli Antichi (Images of the Ancient Gods)

Vincenzo Cartari was one of several Renaissance mythographers who wrote popular studies of the classical gods. His Imagini includes a summary of the various types of classical genius. Cartari was particularly interested in the physical appearance of the ancient gods, and an engraving shows three personifications of genius. On the left is an evil genius, similar to those that appeared before Brutus and Cassius: tall, dark, bearded and dishevelled. In the centre is a serpent, the symbol of new life and a form often adopted by the genius loci. The right-hand figure is the genio populi Romani – the god, or genius, of the Roman people, and a symbol of the fruitfulness of the Roman state. In the genius’s left hand is a cornucopia – a goat’s horn overflowing with flowers, fruit and corn. In his right hand is a patera, a shallow dish used in sacrifices. Traditionally, a genius was honoured with libations of wine, and in Roman households libations were poured to the genius of the paterfamilas, the male head of the family.



In Italian; 526 pages, 168 x 110 mm

Late eighteenth- or early nineteenth-century British binding: brown sheepskin with blind tooling