The Prophecy of Helenus. Aeneid, 1529 leaf, woodcut.


Virgil’s Aeneid:   The Prophecy of Helenus


 Glossed printed leaf with woodcut, 1529



Verso:  Printed on laid paper in a humanist font in Latin.  The text above the woodcut is the gloss (commentary). The upper case page heading includes small foliate woodcuts. The woodcut illustration depicts Aeneas being farewelled by Helenus as he sets sail for Italy.


Recto:  As Verso with Virgil’s original text in a larger font, surrounded by the gloss.


Source:  The first Jean Crespin, Lyon edition, of Virgil’s works, containing the re-used woodcuts prepared for the Johan Grüninger Strasbourg edition of Virgil, (1502).  This edition is rightly acclaimed for its magnificent series of woodcut illustrations by the anonymous Late Master of the Grüninger Workshop.

Grüninger's Virgil "is crowded with wonderful pictures, in which on the very eve of the Renaissance, Virgil is thoroughly medievalised." The woodcuts give wonderful examples of Aeneas, the refugee from Troy, set in late medieval landscapes depicting the culture, dress and warfare of the times.


Date: 1529.


Content:  Virgil’s original text on Recto reads, in part:


Praeterea, si qua est Heleno prudentia vati,

si qua fides, animum si veris implet Apollo,

unum illud tibi, nate dea, proque omnibus unum               

praedicam et repetens iterumque iterumque monebo,

Iunonis magnae primum prece numen adora,

Iunoni cane vota libens dominamque potentem

supplicibus supera donis: sic denique victor

Trinacria finis Italos mittere relicta.               

huc ubi delatus Cumaeam accesseris urbem

divinosque lacus et Averna sonantia silvis,

insanam vatem aspicies, quae rupe sub ima

fata canit foliisque notas et nomina mandat.

quaecumque in foliis descripsit carmina virgo               

digerit in numerum atque antro seclusa relinquit:

illa manent immota locis neque ab ordine cedunt.

verum eadem, verso tenuis cum cardine ventus

impulit et teneras turbavit ianua frondes,

numquam deinde cavo volitantia prendere saxo               

nec revocare situs aut iungere carmina curat:

inconsulti abeunt sedemque odere Sibyllae.


Beyond this, if Helenus has any knowledge, if the seer

can be believed, if Apollo fills his spirit with truth,

son of the goddess, I will say this one thing, this one thing

that is worth all, and I’ll repeat the warning again and again,

honour great Juno’s divinity above all, with prayer, and recite

your vows to Juno freely, and win over that powerful lady

with humble gifts: so at last you’ll leave Sicily behind

and reach the coast of Italy, victorious.

Once brought there, approach the city of Cumae,

the ghostly lakes, and Avernus, with its whispering groves,

gaze on the raving prophetess, who sings the fates

deep in the rock, and commits names and signs to leaves.

Whatever verses the virgin writes on the leaves,

she arranges in order, and stores them high up in her cave.

They stay in place, motionless, and keep in rank:

but once a light breeze ruffles them, at the turn of a hinge,

and the opening door disturbs the delicate leaves, she never

thinks to retrieve them, as they flutter through the rocky cave,

or to return them to their places, or reconstitute the prophecies:

men go away unanswered, and detest the Sibyl’s lair.



Condition:  This leaf is in very good antiquarian condition with sharply printed text and woodcut.  Light stains in the margins are masked off by the mat. The leaf is unconditionally guaranteed genuine. 


Size:  Size of leaf: approx. 315x210 mm.  Presented in a museum quality mat, ready for framing. Please note that packing and postage is invoiced separately.  Within Australia: $22.50.  Overseas: ask for quote.


Notes:  The Aeneid is an epic poem by Virgil, the pre-eminent poet of the Roman Empire. It was his final work and the twelve books of the poem occupied him for about ten years from 29 BCE until his death in 19 BCE. It tells the legendary story of the Trojan hero Aeneas who, after years of wandering following the fall of Troy, travelled to Italy to battle the Latins.  He eventually became the ancestor of the Roman nation. It is Virgil’s best-known work and was considered the masterpiece of Roman literature by the Romans of his day. The fluidity of its rigorously structured poetry and its vivid portrayals of human emotion have earned it a legacy as one of the greatest poems in the Latin language.


 Item No:  PSE085

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