My resources: Correspondences between the full-page woodcuts and the factotum figures of Grüninger’s edition of Terence’s Comoediae (1496) and the Burgos Comedia (1499-1501)

That the woodcuts of the Burgos Comedia are inspired by the illustrations of Grüninger’s edition of Terence’s Comoediae (Strasbourg, 1496 and 1499) is a commonplace since Clara Louise Penney noted this relationship in her The Book Called “Celestina” in the Library of the Hispanic Society of America (1954). Several scholars have ellaborated on this statement, specially Erna Berndt-Kelley (“Mute Commentaries on a Text: The Illustrations of the Comedia de Calisto y Melibea“, 1993) and Clive Griffin (“Celestina‘s Illustrations”, 2001). However, as far as I know, none of the scholars that have devoted some time to exploring the relationship between the characters on the illustrations of the Burgos Comedia and the Strasbourg Comoediae has published a detailed and systematic comparison of the illustrations of both editions, nor identified the exact models for each figure. Therefore, I am sharing with you my own research materials on this topic. While this gets a final written, publishable form, please acknowledge this post if you are using it in your own research.

The tables below include a visual comparison of the individual characters of the Burgos Comedia with their potential counterparts in Grüninger’s Comoediae. Certainty varies from figure to figure, in particular in the case of the most secondary figures, but there are a few quite sure identifications: Calisto’s, Melibea’s, Alisa’s, Pleberio’s and most of Sempronio’s and Pármeno’s.

For this purpose, I have used the digital facsimiles of the Burgos Comedia and the Strasbourg Comoediae respectively available at TeXTReD and the digital library of the Universitäts und Landesbibliothek Darmstadt.


Act I, fol. a1r [a2r]Eunuchus, factotum figure, fol. XXXVIIIv.
Act I, fol. a1v [a2v]Eunuchus, full-page woodcut, fol. XXVIIIv.Eunuchus, factotum figure, fol. XXXv.
In the first case, identification with the factotum figure of Traso in “Eunuchus” needs no further explanation. Figures are inverted but identical. In the second case, identification with Traso, as portrayed in the full-page initial woodcut of “Eunuchus”, needs no further explanation either, but it is worth taking the factotum figure of Parmeno in the same work into account because of the darker stripes.


Act I, fol. a1r [a2r]Heautontimoroumenos, factotum figure, fol. XLIr.
Act XII, fol. i7r.Eunuchus, full-page woodcut, fol. XXVIIIv.
Act XIV, fol. i2v.Ecyra, full-page woodcut, fol. CLVIr.
In the first case, the identification with the factotum figure of Pitias in “Heautontimoroumenos” is widely known. However, I have not seen the richly dressed Melibea of act XII identified with the Thais of the full-page initial woodcut of “Eunuchu”s, despite their dresses and hairstyles being identical, but inverted. Less evident is the identification with the factotum figure of Bacchis in “Ecyra”, but it is the only figure that justifies Melibea’s hairstyle and direct look into the reader’s eyes.


Act I, fol. a1v [a2v]Phormio, full-page woodcut, fol. CXVIv.
Act II, fol. c2r.Heautontimoroumenos, factotum figure, fol. LXIXv.
Act III, fol. c5v.Phormio, factotum figure, fol. CXLv.
In the first and the second cases, the identification with, respectively, the Phedria of the sull-page initial woodcut of “Phedria” and the factotum figure of Clinia in “Heautontimoroumenos” (although this is one of the factotum figures that appears more frequently in Grüninger’s edition, most of the time without any name in the band above his head) is quite self-evident, despite inversion. I am not do sure of the third example, however, I considered it relevant because Geta’s factotum figure in “Phormio” is the only one that wears the cape in a way similar to how Sempronio wears his in the Burgos “Comedia”. Their swords also hang very similarly. The head is, however, the same as in the previous cases.


Act II, fol. c2r.Andria, factotum figure, fol. IXv.
Act IX, fol. g8v.Heautontimoroumenos, full-page woodcut, fol. LXIIIv.
Parmeno’s identification is not as self-evident as in the previous cases, but I think that it is still very clear. In the first case, it is true that there are some differences regarding the factotum figure of Carinus in “Andria” (how the sword hangs, the jerkin’s lenght) but the general impression is quite similar. In the second case, the stripes of Clitipho’s factotum figure in “Heautontimoroumenos” are too representative for an influence not having taken place, even if the hats are different.


Act I, fol. a1v [a2v]Heautontimoroumenos, full-page woodcut, fol. LXIIIv.Ecyra, full-page woodcut, fol. CLVIr; factotum figure, fol. CLXVr.
Act III, fol. c5v.Ecyra, full-page woodcut, fol. CLVIr.
Act X, fol. h7r.Ecyra, factotum figure, fol. CLIIr.Heautontimoroumenos, factotum figure, fol. LXXIIIIv.
Act XI, fol. i4r.Heautontimoroumenos, full-page woodcut, fol. LXIIIv.
Celestina has many models, but the main ones are the Sostrata of the full-page intial woodcut of “Heautontimoroumenos”, the Mirina of the full-page intial woodcut of “Ecyra” and the factotum figure of Sira in the same work. All of them share the bag that hangs to the side of Celestina in the Burgos “Comedia”. The pleats of Celestina’s skirt derive, by contrast, from several factotum figures representing old-woman or lenae-like characters. Similarly, the positions of her hands can sometimes be associated to these factotum figures.


Act III, fol. c5v.Phormio, factotum figure, fol. CXLIXr.Adelphae, full-page woodcut, fol. LXXXVIr.
Act IX, fol. g8v.Phormio, full-page woodcut, fol. CXVIv.Adelphae, factotum figure, fol. XCVIIIv.
To identify Elicia, I focused on her hairstyle. In both cases, I consider my first proposed model to be more likely than the second one. However, the second options are to be considered as well.


Act IX, fol. g8v.Ecyra, full-page woodcut, fol. CLVIr.Phormio, full-page woodcut, fol. CXVIv.
As in Elicia’s case, I focused on Areúsa’s hairstyle. Equally, the first proposed model seems much more likely thann the second one to me, but it is worth taking it into account.


Act XV, fol. l5r.Andria, full-page woodcut, fol. Iv.Andria, factotum figure, fol. IIIr.
Pleberio’s identification with the character of Symo in “Andria”, either as factotum figure or as the design for the full-page initial woodcut, is self-evident and known since long.


Act X, fol. h7r.Ecyra, full-page woodcut, fol. CLVIr.
Despite inversion, Alisa’s identification with the Sostrata of the full-page initial woodcut of “Ecyra” is quite self-evident as well. In some instances, the Burgos artist does neither include the rosary/necklace nor the flower shaped detail on Alisa’s neckline, but it is very clearly the same figure.


Act IX, fol. g8v.Eunuchus, full-page woodcut, fol. XXVIIIv.
This is one of the less convinving identificatios, however, the Ethiopissa of the full-page initial woodcut of “Eunuchus” is the only female character that bows her head, a characterising feature of Lucrecia’s representation in the Burgos “Comedia”, so that it could be relevant. Moreover, the heairstyle and the dress are very similar.


Act XIII, fol. k8r.Phormio, factotum figure, fol. CXXIIIv.Adelphae, factotum figure, fol. XCIIIv.
Sosia’s identification is even less convincing than Lucrecia’s, with elements from both the factotum figure of Thesipho in “Adelphae” (head) and the factotum figure of Demiphos in “Phormio” (clothing). However, the main features are from Demiphos, so that the Burgos artist could simply have designed a more appropriate head for Sosia, who is not an old man with beard. Not for nothing, his head looks similar to other servant’s heads.


Act XIII, fol. k8r.Adelphae, full-page woodcut, fol. LXXXVIr.Adelphae, factotum figure, fol. XCr.
Tristán’s identification is not very convincing, either. I see similarities with the character of Eschimus as both factotum figure and element of the full-page initial woodcut of “Adelphae”, for example, the position of the hands, the cape and the hat. Therefore, I think this should be taken into account.
Act IV, fol. d4v.Adelphae, factotum figure, fol. CXIIIr.
Act X, fol. h7r.Heautontimoroumenos, factotum figure, fol. LXIIIIv.
Finally, I am quite convinced of the influence of the factotum figure of Clitipho in “Heautontimoroumenos” for the second representation of Alisa’s page, but not so much of the influence of the factotum figure of Demea in “Adelphae” on the first. However, clothes are exactly the same, so that it is not unlikely that there was an influence.


Act XII, fol. i7r.Eunuchus, page-wide woodcut, fol. XLIXv.Eunuchus, full-page woodcut, fol. XXVIIIv.
One of the most evident debts of the Burgos “Comedia” with Grüninger’s edition of Terence’s “Comoediae” is this scene in act XII. The artist has obviously mixed both ocurrences of the armed men group in both the full-page initial woodcut and the page-wide inner woodcut of “Eunuchus”. Pármeno looks like Dorax in the page-wide woodcut, Sempronio looks like Dorax in the full-page woodcut and Calisto looks like Traso in the two of them. Only their relative positions are changed, probably because the third man in the armed men group of the Strasbourg edition is not to be seen clearly enough.

Something very interesting about this analysis is that not only every character of the Burgos Comedia has a suitable model in Grüninger’s edition of Terence’s Comoediae, but that the distribution between models that are factotum figures and models that appear in the full-page illustrations that open each piece (and the exceptional page-wide scene of Eunuchus) is almost even. This is important because we identify Grüninger’s Terence with factotum figures and we forget that it includes eight full-page illustrations, two representing a theatre and six preceeding each comedy. These portray the characters in the correspoding urban or rural settings of the piece, introduce them to the reader, and show explicitly how they are related with lines that connect them. However, what interests me most is that their composition as whole scenes approaches them to the page-wide scenes of the Burgos Comedia. Moreover, there is one occurrence of a page-wide illustration that is conceived as an unitary scene as well, like the page-wide illustrations of the Burgos Comedia themselves. As a result, it is evident that the influence of Grüninger’s edition is not limited to its factotum figures, but it goes well beyond that, includes its full-page and page-wide scenes, and could justify to a certain extent why the Burgos Comedia does not use factotum figures itself: both full-page/page-wide scenes and page-wide scenes composed with factotum figures where suitable for illustrating Terence and Terence-like works. Not for nothing, Konrad Dinckmut’s 1486 edition of a German version of Eunuchus exclusively resorts to full-page scenes while the 15c. Terence manuscripts only depict scenes as well. Therefore, we should stop equalling Terence with factotum figures and start considering the greater freedom printers had when printing his Comoediae and drama in general.

Cite this blog post
portrezetres (2020, October 12). My resources: Correspondences between the full-page woodcuts and the factotum figures of Grüninger’s edition of Terence’s Comoediae (1496) and the Burgos Comedia (1499-1501). Por treze, tres. Retrieved June 22, 2024, from

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