Natalis Comes, Mythologia Padua 1616

a selection of images

This is a highly influential and slightly dotty illustrated text, entitled "Ten books of explanations of fables, clearly demonstrating that all the doctrines of Natural and Moral Philosophy were contained in the fables of the ancients...." Ernst Gombrich in a short essay, "The Subject of Poussin's Orion" ( Symbolic Images; Studies in the Art of the Renaissance , Phaidon London 1972) writes of the publication as a "bewildering farrago of pedantic erudition and uncritical compilation...." p.120. Gombrich frowns on Comes' conceptual gymnastics, but praises Poussin's achievements in transmuting the imagery into something fully integrated within his painting of Orion.

The publication, in ten books, begins with an index of mythic narratives and then a separate index of names of protagonists. The folding engraving (top row, right) then gives a hierarchy of mythic figures. Page size is 16 x 26 cms. The publication is generously supplied with vignettes and ornaments throughout.