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.

Catalogue entries of copies of the 16th-century German translation of Celestina not in the USTC or VD16

As I did with COMEDIC and Philobiblion for the 16th-century editions of Celestina in Spanish with surviving copies (see the result here), I have compared my list of known copies of both editions of Christof Wirsung’s translation of Celestina into German with the lists provided by the USTC and VD16 and noticed that I have a few more. Here is the list (16 “new” copies):

  • Ain hipsche Tragedia von zwaien liebhabenden Mentschen, ainem Ritter Calixstus und einer edlen Junckfrawen Melibea genant, deren Anfang muesam was, das Mittel sieβ, mit dem aller bittersten jr bayder Sterben beschlossen, Augsburg, Dr Sigismund Grymm and Marx Wirsung, 20th of December 1520 (AHT): 11 “new” copies

    1. Berlin, Freie Universität, IN 8274
    2. Berlín, Kupferstichkabinett, Sign. 2582;
    3. Cologny, Martin Bodmer Foundation, Span. Lit T-IV
    4. Freiburg, Universitätsbibliothek, E 1053,b
    5. Greifswald, Universitätsbibliothek, 541/Inc. 25 4°
    6. Hamburg, Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek, Inc App A/27 (digitised)
    7. Madrid, Biblioteca Histórica Marqués de Valdecilla, BH FLL Res.825 (digitised in Dioscórides and Google Books)
    8. Marburg, Universitätsbibliothek, 095 XVI C 708 mb
    9. New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 31.73.2
    10. Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, RES-YG-63 (BIS)
    11. Stockholm, Kungliga biblioteket, 137 P c Celestina
  • Ainn recht liepliches Buechlin vnnd gleich ain traurige Comoedia (so von den Latinischen Tragicocomoedia genant wirt) darauβ der Leser vast nutzlichen Bericht von Schaden vnd Gefar fleischlicher Lieb Untrew der Diener Aufsetz der gemaynen Weyber List vnd Geytzigkait der Kupler vnd gleych als inn eynem Spiegel mancherlay Sitten vnnd Aygenschafft der Menschen sehen vnd lernen mag, Augsburg, Haynrich Steyner, 26th of October 1534 (RLB): 5 “new” copies

    1. Augsburgo, Staats- und Stadtbibliothek, Rar 74 alias 4 LA 232
    2. Basel, Kupferstichkabinett und Bibliothek des Kunstmuseums, KK Inv. 1970.276
    3. Berlin, Staatsbibliothek, 4″ Xk 2786 (lost during war)
    4. Erlangen, Universitätsbibliothek, H00/R.L 166 da
    5. Hamburg, Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek, A/121924

Catalogue entries of copies of the Italian translation of Celestina not in my revision of Scoles’ catalogue

As part of the preliminar work for my current research I am revisiting my catalogue of the known editions of the Italian translation of Celestina (recently made available at CORE, because it does not seem as if I will be working on that for a while). Even if I thought that it was quite complete, I have found new copies in the on-line catalogues of different American and European libraries. Here is the list (26 “new”copies):

  • Tragicocomedia di Calisto e Melibea, Roma, Eucario Silber, 29th of January 1506 (R06): 4 “new” copies

    1. Madrid, Biblioteca de D. Francisco Zabálburu (last leaves wanting)
    2. Trent, Biblioteca Diocesana Vigilianum, dvgg2Y 106 (no title page)
    3. Saint Petersburg, Rossijskaja Nacional’naja Biblioteka,
    4. Santander, Biblioteca de Menéndez Pelayo, 30.023 (first leaves wanting)
  • Tragicocomedia di Calisto e Melibea, Vicenzo Minuziano, January 1515 (M15): 4 “new” copies

    1. Huesca, Biblioteca Pública del Estado (according to CCPB)
    2. Milan, Biblioteca Sormani, VET.F VET.493
    3. Orvierto, Biblioteca Pubblica Luigi Fumi (according to EDIT16)
    4. Parma, Biblioteca Palatina (according to EDIT16)
  • Tragicocomedia di Calisto e Melibea, Milan, Ioanne Angelo Scinzenzeler, 16th March 1519 (M19): 1 “new” copy

    1. Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional de España, R/11194
  • Tragicocomedia di Calisto e Melibea, Venecia, Cesare Arrivabene, 10th of December 1519 (V19): 3 “new” copies

    1. Ferrara, Biblioteca Comunale Ariostea, L 11.4.3
    2. Venice, Biblioteca del Museo Correr, INC. I 116
    3. Como, Biblioteca Comunale (according to EDIT16)
  • Tragicocomedia di Calisto e Melibea, Venecia, Gregorio de Gregori, November 1525 (V25a): 3 “new” copies

    1. Parma, Biblioteca Palatina (according to EDIT16)
    2. Prague, Národni Knihovna České Republiky, 9 K 547 (not in the on-line catalogue but in Google Books)
    3. Stockholm, Kungliga Biblioteket, 137 P c Celestina (not sure if V25a, V25b or V25c)
  • Tragicocomedia di Calisto e Melibea, Venecia, Francesco Caron, November 1525 (V25b): 1 “new” copy

    1. Verona, Seminario Vescovile (according to EDIT16)
  • Tragicocomedia di Calisto e Melibea, [Venecia], Marchiò Sessa, 10th of February 1531 (V31a): 3 “new” copies

    1. Los Angeles, Getty Research Institute, PQ6427 .I8 1531 (ejemplar digitalizado en y Hathi Trust)
    2. Naples, Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele III, F.DORIA 3. 27
    3. Semur-en-Auxois, Bibliothèque Municipale, I XI 2263
  • Tragicocomedia di Calisto e Melibea, Venecia, Francesco di Alessandro Bindoni e Maffeo Pasini, June 1531 (V31b): 1 “new” copy

    1. Saint Petersburg, Rossijskaja Nacional’naja Biblioteka,
  • Tragicocomedia de Calisto y Melibea, [Venecia], Pietro de Nicolini da Sabio, julio de 1535 (V35): 3 “new” copies

    1. Paris, Bibliothèque Mazarine, 8° 44885 (lost since 1958)
    2. Saint Petersburg, Rossijskaja Nacional’naja Biblioteka,
    3. Verona, Biblioteca del Seminario Vescovile (according to EDIT16)
  • Tragicocomedia de Calisto y Melibea, [Venecia], Giovanni Antonio e Pietro de Nicolini da Sabio, marzo de 1541 (V41): 3 “new” copies

    1. Paris, Bibliothèque Mazarine, 8° 44535-1 [Res]
    2. Paris, Univeristé de la Sorbonne, RXVIB 6= 30
    3. Parma, Biblioteca Palatina (according to EDIT16)

My resources: Revised catalogue of the editions of the Italian translation of Celestina

Following an interesting Twitter discussion started by our fellow medievalist Clara Jáuregui (whose blog can be read here), I decided to heed the advice given there and upload my revision of the catalogue of the editions of the Italian translation of Celestina by Emma Scoles to CORE, the digital repository of Humanities Commons.


In it, celestinesque scholars will find information on the known editions of the Italian translation of Celestina by Alphonso Hordognez, with or without known surviving copies, and on their current location. This catalogue identifies ghost editions and potentially lost editions, and provides extensive bibliographical information on the editorial history of Celestina in Italian as well.

This research dates from 2012 and my ideas on the topic might have changed since then, but it should still be up-to-date regarding the number of known copies and their location, although some of the links might be outdated. I aim to complete this catalogue some time with a preliminary study on the editorial history of Celestina in Italy and more detailed informations on the particular editions, however, I felt that it was a shame to keep this useful research tool to myself for so long. Luckily, CORE offers the opportunity to share unpublished work in a quotable way. So, please, take this as a late-Christmas present and feel free to use my catalogue for your research.

Ecdotics: Working on the textual filiation of the early editions of Alphonso Hordognez’s translation of Celestina into Italian

As I am currently working on the textual relation between Christof Wirsung’s translations of Celestina into German and their Italian model, I felt the need to create a list of separative errors that I could use as an orientation to determine from which edition of Alphonso Hordognez’s translation of Celestina Christof Wirsung translated in 1520 and in 1534. The critical apparatus of Kathleen Kish’s 1973 edition1 is not to be blindly trusted, as Beniamino Vignola stated in his review of 19762 and I have verified myself, therefore, I have decided to ellaborate my own critical apparatus and to collate, in a first stage, all editions of the Italian translation of Celestina until 1520, when Wirsung’s first translation was published. Moreover, I have turned this into an occassion for using the on-line version of Juxta, the well-known free collation software, known as Juxta Commons to differientiate between the two.

The most remarkable feature of Juxta Commons so far is the possibility of sharing so-called “comparison sets”, that is, texts and their collations. For you to see how well it works, I have shared the comparison set devoted to Alphonso Hordognez’s dedicatory letter to Gentile Feltria de Campofregoso, in which I have asked the programme to ignore punctuation and capitalisation differences. Despite not having been able to create a filter to ignore irrelevant graphical variants (a feature I would appreciate very much, filtering by variant type), I think that the “heat map” (Juxta Commons’ name for the overlay of the texts with differences highlighted by color) is quite easy to use and gives a good general overview of where differences are.

Although the text corresponding to the 1515 Venetian edition is missing (I have not received my digital copy yet), the above collation offers us some relevant separative errors. These errors leave us so far with a milanese and a venetian branch in the stemma:

  • Milan editions replace “la presente opera” with “questa” in “il nostro auctore per la presente opera chiaramente cel dimostra”
  • Milan editions correct “nobile fortuna” to “mobile fortuna” in “Quali obstano ale adversita dela nobile fortuna” (although this is a correction that could arise independently at any stage of the textual history of the Italian translation of Celestina)
  • Venice 1519 turns “de miei falli” into “degli error miei”

In general, I think Juxta Commons serves its purpose well, although I miss the “attach image” option of the desktop edition and being able to ascribe variants to different categories and filter by them. Having created this collation set from plain text files, I am considering using TEI-encoded files the next time. However, I cannot still figure out which features of TEI-encoding would improve this collation set, as I am exclusively interested in separative errors. Any suggestions?

1Kish, Kathleen (ed.), (1973), An edition of the first Italian translation of the “Celestina” (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press).

2Vignola, Beniamino (1976), “Su un’edizione della prima traduzione italiana della Celestina“, Cultura Neolatina XXXVI, pp. 129-137.

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