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Renaissance Fables (Hardback)

Aesopic Prose by Leon Battista Alberti, Bartolomeo Scala, Leonardo Da Vinci, Bernardino Baldi

Imprint: Medieval and Renaissance Texts Society
Pages: 374
ISBN: 9780866983037
Published: 18th May 2004
Casemate UK Academic


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An important genre of Renaissance literature was the philosophical Aesopic fable, a tradition initiated by Leon Battista Alberti, whose Apologi centum, a pithy collection written in just nine days (16-24 December 1437), spawned numerous imitations. Alberti’s model was imitated in the Latin “centuries” of Bartolomeo Scala’s Apologi centum (1481) and Apologorum liber secundus (1488-92), and of Lorenzo Astemio’s two Hecatomythia (1495, 1505). Alberti also inspired apologues written in Italian prose: Leonardo da Vinci’s scattered favole (ca. 1485-95) and Bernardino Baldi’s 1582 Cento apologhi (first published in 1590).


Based on recent critical editions, Renaissance Fables offers the first English versions of fables by Alberti, Scala, and Baldi, as well as a new translation of Leonardo’s fables. While the fables themselves are often epigrammatically short, they engage large issues of human society and morality by means of symbols and situations borrowed from the world of nature. Extensive textual notes identify the authors’ literary and scientific sources and provide cross-references that aid in our understanding of these often enigmatic works. Readers with an interest in Renaissance allegory, emblems, and philosophy, or in artists like Alberti and Leonardo, will find fascinating connections with their own disciplines.

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