Vincenzo Cartari, Konrad Gessner, Conrad Gesner, Thierbuch, Tierbuch, George Whitney, Juan de Horozco, Sebastián de Covarrubias, Johannes Sambucus, Johannes, Emblemata, Zsámboky János, Janus Bifrons, Albertus Magnus, De animalibus, Pliny, Naturalis historia, dog, foxhound, iconology, emblem, emblems, animals, bestiary



  google

related to this article:

• Vincenzo Cartari:
Mythographies

• Andrea Alciato:
Emblemata. Critical Edition

• Albertus Magnus:
Animal Symbolism

• Pliny:
Animal Symbolism

• Sebastián de Covarrubias:
Corpus of Spanish Emblem Books

• Johannes Sambucus:
The Golden Age of European Emblematics

• Juan de Horozco:
Corpus of Spanish Emblem Books

• Horapollo:
Hieroglyphics

Editions on CD:

emblems

• Corpus of Spanish Emblem Books

• The Golden Age of European Emblematics

• Emblems of Wither & Rollenhagen

• Alciato, Emblemata. Critical Edition

• Emblems of the Society of Jesus

• Renaissance Books of Imprese

• Baroque Repertories of Imprese

symbols

• Hieroglyphics

• Animal Symbolism

• Mythographies

numismatics

• Renaissance Numismatics

• Complete Works of Hubert Goltzius

proverbial wisdom

• Erasmus’ Adagia. Versions and Sources

dictionaries

• Covarrubias, Tesoro de la lengua espańola

complete works

• Baltasar Gracián

Treasures of Kalocsa

• Book of Psalms
MS 382, c. 1438

 

Canis reversus

On the iconology of the running dog

© Studiolum, 10-1-2005

The ancients, asserts Vincenzo Cartari in his most popular manual on mythography, depicted the year with two-faced Janus. One of the faces looked ahead to the future, while the other looked back on the past.

Therefore, if we ended our Silva last year with a dog looking expectantly at his master, let us reopen the Silva with another dog looking back towards... well, let us say also towards his master. But before considering the master, let us examine the pedigree of this dog.

Every running dog turning its head backwards was once a running dog looking forward. To the right we can see how our dog might look in this hypothetical pose, as it appears in the illustration from the Thierbuch of Conrad Gesner, the patriarch of all illustrated natural histories.

The Thierbuch, as the complete title announces, contained “the living and true portraits” of animals, capturing them in the Lessingian “pregnant moment”, in the middle of their most characteristic movement, in the revealing epiphany of the essence of the species.

It is no surprising, therefore, that this representation –  which was meant to depict specifically the English foxhound – would be adopted by later natural histories as the portrait of the species Canis in general.

This is how we find it, for example, in the German translation of Albertus Magnus’ De animalibus, or in the illustrated Frankfurt edition with commentary of Pliny’s Naturalis historia.

In this latter book it is clear that the illustration of the wolf was also based on the model of the running dog, instead of taking it from the more static picture of Gesner’s wolf.


Wolf from Gesner’s Thierbuch, 1556


Wolf from Pliny’s Bücher..., 1565
adjusted to the scheme
of the running dog

And in the genealogical tree of Gesner’s running dog we also find, alongside the more or less legitimate heirs of the illustrated natural histories, more spurious offspring as well,  including in emblem books.

In Emblems 1.37 and 1.38 of the Empresas espirituales y morales of Juan Francisco de Villava, for example, we see a metamorphosis similar to that of Pliny’s Bücher, with the difference that the familiar scheme of the running dog has been transformed here into the running lion – and the same thing happens with a running pig and a running deer in Part 2 of this same book (Emblems 2.27 and 2.33)!

Emblem 1.21 of Sebastián de Covarrubias’ Emblemas morales illustrates the exemplum of the dog drinking hastily from the water of the Nile and suddenly running away, fearful of the crocodiles – as Pliny recounted.

The pictura, however, does not represent either the Nile, nor the crocodile, as does, for example, Johannes Sambucus, in the emblem that he dedicates to the same topic (copied later by Geoffrey Whitney).

While Sambucus inserts his Gesnerian dog in the middle of the context of Pliny’s tale (in a somewhat absurd position, since it looks like it is about to jump straight into the open mouth of the crocodile), in Covarrubias only the running dog is seen, as a simple graphic abbreviation of the story.


Johannes Sambucus, Emblem 28
(Sobrie potandum)

Sebastián de Covarrubias y Horozco’s brother, Juan de Horozco y Covarrubias goes one step further in his Symbola sacra, and adds an even more original shift to the Idealtypus of the running dog.

Here the animal represents our sins, which, if expelled, depart from our side but, just like dog, at the first call for them to return they hasten to come back and join us, their masters.

And the pictura with the dog that turns its head backwards, with that markedly Egyptian profile and profile, aligns perfectly with the moral interpretation to create an ideal Renaissance hieroglyph.

 

Vincenzo Cartari, Le imagini de i dei de gli antichi, Venice 1571, 49.

Mostrano anchora le due faccie di Giano il tempo, che tuttauia uiene: e perciň l’una č giouine, e quello che giŕ č passato, onde l’altra č di maggiore etŕ, e barbuta. Plinio scriue che Numa Re de Romani fece una statoa di Giano con le dita delle mani acconcie in modo che mostrauano 365. accioche si conoscesse percio che egli era il Dio dell’anno; perche l’anno ha tanti dě, quanti ei ne mostraua con le mani: conciosia che gli antichi piegando le dita, o stendendole in diuersi modi mostrassero tutti i numeri che uoleuano, come si po uedere appresso del beato Beda, che ne fa un libretto. E Suida parimente riferisce, che per mostrare Giano essere il medesimo, che l’anno gli posero alcuni nella destra mano 300. e 65. nella sinistra, e che altri gli diedero la chiaue nella destra per farlo conoscere principio del tempo, e portinaio dell’anno.

Conrad Gesner, Thierbuch, das ist Ausführliche beschreibung vnd lebendige ja auch eigentliche Contrafactur vnd Abmahlung aller Vierfüssigen thieren, Heidelberg 1556

Von dem Britannischen Schmeckhund. (Canis Britannicus. Sagax. Ein Brack. Ein Schottischer wasser Hund. Ein Rache.)

DIses ist auch ein besondere arde der Schmeckhunden, dann er nit allein die vögel, wilden Thier mit seinem geschmack erzeigt vnd nachhalt, sonder auch die fisch in den wasseren, zwischen den velsen vnd schropffen, vnnd das mit seines geruchs eigenschafft.

Albertus Magnus, Thierbuch, Frankfurt 1565

Pliny, Bücher vnd Schrifften von der Natur, Frankfurt 1565, p. 200.

Juan Francisco de Villava, Empresas espirituales y morales, Baeza 1613, Emblems 1.37 and 1.38

Sebastián de Covarrubias y Horozco, Emblemas morales, Madrid 1610, Emblem 1.21 (Nolite cor apponere)

Si las riquezas vieres que corriendo
Van, como el agua, y ruedan por el suelo.
No te arrojes de bruzas, presumiendo
En ellas encharcarte, mira al cielo:
Y con la mano ŕ tragos, y huyendo,
Refrescate, passando tan de buelo,
Como el perro sediento por el Nilo,
Temiendo no le muerda el Crocodilo.

Juan de Horozco y Covarrubias, Symbola sacra, Agrigento 1601, Emblem 49 (Revocatus aderit)

Amenaçando el deleyte
Como el can, no se detiene
Huye y si le llaman, viene.

Vt canis expulsum vitium diffugit, at istud
Non secus atque idem si reuocatur adest.

CVM variae de beatitudinis ratione fuerint antiquorum sententiae, nihil turpius dici potuit, nihil absurdius, quŕm in voluptate constituere. Si enim ita esset, nihil impediret, quin & pecudes beatae dicerentur. Est autem voluptas praeter modum elata laetitia, ex Isidoro: siue, iucundus motus in sensu; Ad quam describendam conueniet illa Isidori definitio, sordidae mentis inquinatio con quadam ad illicita lubrica suauitate. Ex quo satis constat, quŕm sit fugienda, quamuis se sponte offerat gratuito: cům aliŕs nonnisi dolore emi soleat. Et cuius appetentia plena est anxietatis, sicut satietas poenitentiae. Atque ita omni modo arcendae sunt, atque propellendae voluptates, quae sic discedunt, & fugiunt modň iterum non vocentur. Tunc enim facilč reuocantur: iuxta similitudinem expulsae canis, quam si fugientem videris, nunquam redituram credas: at illa vel fugiens caput retorquet, & si denuo vocantis vocem audiat, accedit nil timens, cum hilaritate & blanditijs. Vitia ergo semel relegata semper longe sint ŕ cunctis nam postliminio reuersa integrč sua recuperant, & perniciosius nocent.

 
 

last minute

• Register to receive our news!

• 5.4: RSA: A Recapitulation

• 4.4: DVD edition of Covarrubias, Tesoro de la lengua espańola

• 18.3: Treasures of Kalocsa, Vol. 1: Psalterium MS 382

more...

silva

Sancho Panza and the Turtle

An Encounter with the Inquisition

Phoenix on the top of the palm tree

Canis reversus

His Master’s Voice

Virgil’s best verse

To eat turtle or not to eat it

blog of studiolum

•  Chinatown

•  Un viaje a la mente barroca

•  Unde Covarrubias Hungaricč didicit?

more...

open library

• Bibliography of Hispanic Emblematics

• Horapollo, Hieroglyphica 1547

• Alciato, Emblemata 1531

• The Album Amicorum of Franciscus Pápai Páriz

• Ludovicus Carbo, De Mathiae regis rebus gestis (c. 1473-75)

• Epistolary of Pedro de Santacilia y Pax

medio maravedí

Texts and Studies of Medieval and Golden Age Spanish Literature