Iconologia in English


While wandering through some other links, I happened across a site containing a facsimile of an English version of Cesare Ripa's Iconologia. Someone with a faster connection than my dialup may find a great deal of interesting material in this stuff.

MIT has also put a facsimile of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili online, which may interest those who are also interested in the Ripa images. This too will be of more use to those with fast connections. Fortunately, I have Joscelyn Godwin's translation, but if you want to download any of the intriguing pictures, they are there.



I couldn't get into the English translation. The site loaded but none of the pages would come up. I did manage to access the MIT facsimile pages, but of course could not read many of the words, so I just looked at some of the pictures. You can kind of follow the story somewhat that way.

I like just looking at the book. It's a beautiful letterpress job, with very well done woodblock illustrations, and certainly a gem of the printer's art. Where is it now? The Gutenberg Museum in Mainz, perhaps?

It looks very artsy. And esoteric as all hell.


At times, emblemeticas such as C. Ripa's certainly makes one wonder whether these result as part of Alchemy's or even Tarot's own influence.

For the record, Ripa wrote around the late 16th or early 17th century - the time from which we have the oldest surviving Marseilles style cards.

His depictions, of course, remain quite independent of Tarot - with a few parallels - and remain very interesting indeed.

Thanks for the links, ihcoyc.

Rusty Neon

jmd said:

His depictions, of course, remain quite independent of Tarot - with a few parallels - and remain very interesting indeed.

Nonetheless, one of my always-being-postponed projects is to go the local university library, pour over their copy of Ripa's Iconologia and assign one or more different Ripa ideas/phenomena to each of the 78 cards of the Rider deck. This project intrigues me, especially as regards the minor arcana. I envision that the concordance could be done along the line of pictorial similarities and/or fit with common RWS divinatory meanings. I realize that such a set of correspondences would not demonstrate or accomplish anything, but it would be personally interesting to me, just in the same way as some people like to do tarot correspondences to runes, I Ching hexagrams, Sabian symbols, etc.

If someone has already done such a set of correspondences, I'd be interested in seeing it. :)

By the way, I've done some checking around and it seems that a reproduction book of Ripa's Iconologia with the medieval-type engravings is either out of print or prohibitively expensive. I recently purchased for a reasonably low price through amazon a Dover reprint of the 1758-60 Hertel edition of Ripa's Iconologia. The book is entitled "Baroque and Rococo Pictorial Imagery". It has 200 engraved illustrations in baroque and rococo style rather than the medieval-type engravings we see on the internet for Ripa's Iconologia. These B + R engravings are interesting in that they not only illlustrate Ripa's symbolism but also illustrate, by way of fatto, an additional set of symbolism invented by Hertel to illustrate the same idea/phenomenon. Apparently (at least according to the Dover book) Ripa's original written work was not illustrated and illustrations were added in later editions of the Iconologia.