Special Collections gains epic

During the summer, Pickler Library’s Special Collections acquired 73 pages of works by the ancient Roman poet Virgil.

Amanda Langendoerfer, Head of Special Collections and Archives, says she purchased the leaves from Fred Schreiber, a rare books dealer in New York City. She says she contacted him during May, hoping to find items that would be interesting to the classics faculty. She says she purchased the leaves with money from advancement funds donated to Truman State.

Langendoerfer says the acquired pages include six pages of the “Eclogues,” 21 leaves of the “Georgics,” seven from the “Appendix Vergiliana” — a collection of works sometimes attributed to Virgi— and 39 pages of the epic “Aeneid.” She said printer Johann Grüninger printed the leaves during 1502, and the woodcut illustrations were done in a medieval style by an artist known only as “the Grüninger Master” of Strasbourg, France.

“It’s the first illustrated edition of the works of Virgil,” Langendoerfer says.

Langendoerfer says the leaves include part of the “Liber Tredecimus,” or thirteenth book, of the “Aeneid.” This book was not written by Virgil, but Langendoerfer says it came from the Italian Renaissance humanist Maffeo Vegio as a continuation of Virgil’s epic. Langendoerfer says each page features lines of poetry surrounded by commentary.

At least half of each page is dominated by woodcut artwork, though some leaves are almost entirely illustration. Langendoerfer says all students and faculty are welcome to view the pages.

“We encourage use of these leaves, as well as any of our other other rare books that we have in our department as well, and they’re here for student use, they’re here for faculty use,” Langendoerfer says. “It’s got so many teaching points behind it that we really hope that the faculty will be interested in exposing the students to it. If you’re interested in a capstone project, these are a great way to start.”

For more on the Special Collections’ new epic, pick up a copy of the Index or click here to read online on Issuu.