Minerva, Mantone and Circes by Giovanni Boccaccio

Minerva, Mantone and Circes by Giovanni Boccaccio

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From De Mulieribus Claris, edited and with an introduction by Rhiannon Daniels & Guyda Armstrong

Boccaccio's reputation as one of the great storytellers of the medieval world rests on the success of his one hundred short stories, the Decameron, but that is only one of many works composed across a long and successful career which began in 1330s and ended with his death in 1375. De Mulieribus Claris, or On Famous Women, is his collection of one hundred and six biographies and is noted for being the first devoted entirely to women. Boccaccio believed that by recounting these lives, both bad and good, he might encourage virtue and diminish vice.

Produced to commemorate Boccaccio's 700th anniversary, this edition captures some of the many ways in which Boccaccio's women have been viewed by the European literary tradition.

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Three of his most engaging biographies have been chosen from Lord Morley's 1543 translation of On Famous Women: Pallas Athena (or Minerva), the goddess of Wisdom and War; Circe, the sorceress, who captivated Odysseus; and Manto the prophet and daughter of Tiresias. Morley's dedication to King Henry VIII has also been included. The text has been lightly modernised and given a full introduction by Daniels and Armstrong.

The illustrations for the book come from a 1473 and a 1541 edition of the De Mulieribus Claris. Charlotte Whittingham and Mary Byfield engraved the initials and the head- and tail-pieces in the 1840s and a lavish Monotype border adorns the title-page.

This book is letterpress printed onto 24 pages of sky blue Wookey Hole mould made paper. It is 8¼ x 5 ¼ inches; set in Poliphilus type, and bound here at the Press. The edition is less than 240 numbered copies, of which 50 are hard backed and the remainder bound in card with a printed paper wrapper.