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.

New publication: Videoactas del I Congreso del Círculo de Estudios de la Literatura Picaresca y Celestinesca (4th-5th of June 2020)

Last week the Círculo de Estudios de la Literatura Picaresca y Celestinesca (CELPYC) presented officially the conference proceedings of the I Congreso Virtual del CELPYC, in video format.

The conference, which took place the 4th and the 5th of June of this year via Zoom, devoted its second session to Celestina in its entirety, with papers by early career, not-so-early-career, and veteran celestinistas. Celestinesque illustrations received particular attention, with four papers on the topic:

The remaining two papers dealt with the characterisation of Melibea and Marcela, the shepherdess of El Quijote (“La víbora no merece ser culpada por la ponzoña que tiene”: Melibea y la pastora Marcela by Ivette Martí Caloca) and a Broadway musical version of Celestina (“Celestina, a Tragic Musical Comedia”: A New Old Bawd-way Musical by Brad Bond).

The celestinesque session closed with the presentation of the books Vida escénica de “La Celestina” en España (1909-2019) (Peter Lang: 2020), by María Bastianes, and “La Celestina”, un mito literario contemporáneo (Iberoamericana-Vervuert: 2020), by Jéromine François.

The full range of papers can be viewed at the official website of the CELPYC: Videoactas del I Congreso del CELPYC

Some reflections on the illustrated editions of the German translations of Celestina

In my last post, I described how serendipity led to an important discovery with regard to my reseach on the illustrations of the editions of the Italian translation of Celestina. More than a discovery, it was a confirmation of the dramatic status of Celestina in Italy, since the models for the illustrations of the Venice, Cesare Arrivabene, 1519 edition can be traced back to a particular Italian way of illustrating the works of Plautus and Terence in the 16th century. More concretely, there are reasons to believe that the model of Arrivabene’s edition was the Venice, Marchiò Sessa and Pietro Ravanis, 1518 edition of Plautus’ Comoediae in Latin.

A few days after I live-tweeted the whole process of establishing these relationships (follow me for more random thoughts on Celestina and some non-celestinqesque academic and –sometimes– non-academic stuff), serendipity did it again. This time, a colleague of mine asked me if I was familiar with a certain woodcut that looked German. It reminded me of the designs of Jost Amman’s Kunstbüchlin (Johann Feyerabend , Frankfurt am Main, 1599), but it was not among the many woodcuts there, so that I checked some books on jousting and tournaments, without results. Or, at least, without an answer for my colleague because, from the perspective of my research, it was far from being an unfruitful day.

Suddenly, among the “similar books” suggestions in one of the digital libraries I was checking, a title page caught my attention: the Frankfurt am Main, Hermann Schülfferich, 1553 edition of Die schöne Magelona. There it was, the same woodblock used by Heinrich Steiner for his 1534 edition of Christof Wirsung’s second translation of Celestina into German.

Einn recht liepliches büchlin… (Augsburg, Heinrich Steiner, 1534)
Die schoen Magelona (Frankfurt am Main, Hermann Schülfferich, 1553)

Not only that; this edition of Die schöne Magelona reuses the whole woodcuts set, including illustrations that are very tightly bound to the original text of Celestina, like, for example, Calisto’s death or the conversation of the parents of Melibea while she herself and her maid Lucrecia listen through the door:

Die schoen Magelona (Frankfurt am Main, Hermann Schülfferich, 1553 ), ff. A3v and A4r.
Die schoen Magelona (Frankfurt am Main, Hermann Schülfferich, 1553 ), ff. G3v and L2r.

But Schülfferichen was not the first person to associate this set of woodblocks to Die schöne Magelona. In 1535 Heinrich Steiner himself printed the first edition of the text, in which he used just one of the Celestina woodcuts.

Die schoen Magelona (Augsburg, Heinrich Steiner, 1535 )
Die schoen Magelona (Augsburg, Heinrich Steiner, 1535 ), fol. B3v.

In fact, this edition is characterised by a mix of illustrations of great artistic and technical quality, most of them attributable to Hans Weiditz, the artist behind the woodcuts of the German translation of Celestina, and traceable back to the printing press of Max Wirsung and Sigismund Grimm, and less artistic, more functional woodcuts.

Yes, we are in the same book and we are not ashamed of it – Die schoen Magelona (Augsburg, Heinrich Steiner, 1535 ), ff. A4r and J4v.

What is really interesting about Steiner and Schülfferich reusing these woodcuts for their editions of Die schöne Magelona is not what it tells us about how woodblocks went from one printer to the other (which is interesting by itself), but about how German people might have equaled Celestina to the literary genre of romance instead of equaling it to the Roman comedies of Terence and Plautus. Not for nothing, Die schöne Magelona is Veit Warbeck’s translation into German of the French prose romance Pierre de Provence et la belle Maguelonne (ca. 1453). Therefore, it is possible that these two printers saw some kind of similarity between Celestina and Die schöne Magelona, so that they felt that the woodcuts of the former would fit the latter as well. Both tell a love story, after all (however, they could not be more different).

That German printers or, at lest, Heinrich Steiner perceived Celestina rather as prosa than as drama can be confirmed through his use of the full-page woodblock of the Celestina series for his edition of Etliche Historien unnd fabulen gantz lustig zu lesen (Augsburg, Heinrich Steiner, 1541). This text, as its title indicates, is a collection of short narrative stories, among which we find some tales of Ovid’s Metamorphosis, for example, and other stories in which love is one of the driving forces, but it is not limited to it. Therefore, love seems not to be the reason behind Steiner’s choice, but that a story (with a certain amount of action) is being told in prose.

Etliche Historien unnd fabulen gantz lustig zu lesen (Augsburg, Heinrich Steiner, 1541), fol. A2v.

Furthermore, thanks to Fernando Carmona’s answer to one of my tweets on the topic (yes, I did live-tweet this one as well), I checked page 67 of his thesis La recepción de “La Celestina” en Alemania en el siglo XVI (2007) and, following this, I decided to look for pre-1534 illustrated editions of the prosa romances printed by Steiner.

Thereby, I saw with my own eyes that there is a tradition of illustrating prosa stories with more or less detailed depictions of scenes of the text in 16th century Germany, and particularly in Augsburg. This is evident in the editions of the Fortunatus, as well as in the editions of the Melusina (and, for sure, in many more).

Fortunatus, eyne hystorye (Augsburg, Johannes Heybler, 1509), fol. A3v.
Das abenteüerlich Buch beweyset vns von eyner frauwen genant. Melusina (Augsburg, Johann Schönsperger., ca. 1488), fol. 5v.
Die Historie oder Geschichte von der edlen und schönen Melusina (Augburg, Heinrich Steiner, 1538), fol. B1v.

As a result, while in 1519 the Italian printer Cesare Arrivabene was printing the first illustrated edition of the Italian translation of Celestina with the editions of Plautus and Terence in mind, I am very certain that Max Wirsung and Sigismund Grimm were commissioning Hans Weiditz illustrations in the tradition of the Fortunatus and the Melusina, that is, scenes that support the story told in the text. That Steiner, afterwards, specialised in using illustrations with no direct relation to the text is irrelevant. What is important here is that Celestina was not treated like a piece by Plautus or Terence, but as a story told in prose.

Would this explain why the title page of the Zaragoza, Jorge Coci, 1507 edition of the Tragicomedia reuses the very same woodcut that was used for the Zaragoza, Pablo Hurus, 1493 edition of Cárcel de amor, a well-know prose romance, and avoids the Terentian model of the Burgos Comedia? Not for nothing, both Hurus and Coci were German, and they were from Konstanz, a city in the South of Germany, like Augsburg. But this is something that still needs some research.

Some reflections on the illustrated editions of the Italian translation of Celestina

Some weeks ago, after deciding that the banner image of PATRIMONiT looked similar to the woodcuts of the Venice, Cesare Arrivabene, 1519 edition of the Italian translation of Celestina, I entered a frenzy and decided to look for woodcuts that could be attributed to the same artist in sixteenth-century Italian non-Celestina editions. This proved to be a bad take, since the woodcuts of the Venice 1519 edition belong to the kind of scenes that were mass-produced, without particular traits. The artist could have been anyone. The only characteristic that kept catching my attention was that women used to wear a gown with a square cut neckline and the very same hairstyle.

Look at both young women and tell me they do not look similar: Title pages of Celestina. Tragicomedia de Calisto e Melibea (Venice, Cesare Arrivabene, 1519) and Stramboti composti novamente da diversi auctori che sono in preposito a ciaschuno che e ferito damore (Venice, s.i., ca. 1525).

Checking the hairstyles and necklines of some hundreds of woodcuts led me to a particularly interesting one: the Venice, Marchiò Sessa and Pietro Ravanis, 1518 edition of Plautus’ Comoediae in Latin. But I lost my interest in the female character to the left very quickly. The archs in the background became much more relevant. The archs in the background are characteristic of the inner illustrations of Arrivabene’s edition of the Italian translation of Celestina.

Fol. CXXXVv, Comoediae (Venice, Marchiò Sessa and Pietro Ravanis, 1518) and fol. XXXII, Tragicomedia de Calisto e Melibea (Venice, Cesare Arribavene, 1519). For this last woodcut, I recommend checking a former post on how this edition exists in two states, one with this woodcut and one without it.

Even more interesting was that the archs were not exclusive of the above woodcut, but a common feature to most woodcuts of the Venice, Marchiò Sessa and Pietro Ravanis, 1518 edition of Plautus’ Comoediae in Latin.

Look at all these archs in the background!

Provided that Sessa’s edition precedes Arrivabene’s edition by one year, could it have been a model for the woodcuts? At first glance, this seemed a quite logical conclusion. Not for nothing, Marchiò Sessa printed the Italian translation of Celestina in 1531, with Arrevabene’s woodblocks. There could have been some kind of relationship before that. However, I was to discover that Terence’s Comoediae in Latin were also printed with a very similar set of illustrations. In it, archs are replaced by curtains and columns, but the effect and the composition are quite similar.

Comoediae (Milano, Augustinum de Vicomercat, 1521). But the curtain thing goes back to the Venice, Lazarum Soardum, 1504 edition.

Although I still believe that there is a strong point in favour of Sessa’s influence over Arrivabene’s woodcuts, what I find more interesting is that the Italian translation of Celestina is being illustrated according to a characteristically Italian way of illustrating Terence’s and Plautus’ Comoediae. From this point of view, Celestina is being equaled to Roman comedy.

This is not something new to Celestina. I do not need to remember how Griffin found a model for the woodcuts of the Burgos Comedia in the German illustrated editions of Terence. But it is interesting from the point of view of how Italian printers moved from the factotum figures model of Terence’s German editions to something very much of their own. Not that the factotum figures were unknown in Italy. In fact, they were used in the Venice, Lazarum Soardum, 1511 edition of Plautus’ Comoediae.

Comoediae (Venice, Lazarum Soardum, 1511)

This might explain why the printers of the Italian translation of Celestina had no trouble moving to the Spanish series of factotum figures and woodcuts in 1541.

In any case, what interests me most is that serendipity plays a big role in research. Were it not for a banner in an internet site, I could have missed these relationships completely. By mere chance, now I do have a great point of departure for further investigations.

My resources collection: Title pages of Comedia de Calisto y Melibea.