Treatise on Hunting and Fishing - Oppiano, Cynegetica

Treatise on Hunting and Fishing - Oppiano, Cynegetica

Istanbul (Turkey) — 11th century

One of the most important hunting treatises of antiquity, written for Emperor Caracalla: a beautiful copy from the 11th century, decorated with 157 amazingly naturalistic Byzantine-style miniatures

  1. The Greco-Roman writer Oppian of Apamea composed one of the most important hunting manuscripts

  2. It was composed for the Roman Emperor Caracalla in the early–3rd century as a didactic poem

  3. This 11th century Byzantine copy has 157 astoundingly naturalistic miniatures of fish and game

Treatise on Hunting and Fishing - Oppiano, Cynegetica

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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Treatise on Hunting and Fishing - Oppiano, Cynegetica

The Treatise on Hunting and Fishing counts as one of the largest and most important hunting manuscripts. It contains the well-known expositions of the Greco-Roman writer Oppian of Apamea concerning hunting with dogs and birds as well as fishing, which were composed for the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Severus Augustus, known as Caracalla. The treatise is furnished with 157 informative and likewise entertaining, wonderful miniatures in the Byzantine style of the 11th century. The owner of the manuscript in the 15th century, the famous Italian mediator of ancient Greek culture Cardinal Bessarion, commissioned Georgios Trivizias to complete the manuscript a few centuries after it was written. In this way, a true treasure of book art was created, which impressively conveys the ancient knowledge of hunting and fishing in 150 pages.

Treatise on Hunting and Fishing - Oppiano, Cynegetica

The Treatise on Hunting and Fishing counts as one of the largest and most important hunting manuscripts. It contains the well-known expositions of the Greco-Roman writer Oppian of Apamea concerning hunting with dogs and birds as well as fishing, which were composed for the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Severus Augustus, known as Caracalla. The treatise is furnished with 157 informative and likewise entertaining, wonderful miniatures in the Byzantine style of the 11th century. The owner of the manuscript in the 15th century, the famous Italian mediator of ancient Greek culture, Cardinal Bessarion, commissioned Georgios Trivizias to complete the manuscript a few centuries after it was written. In this way, a true treasure of book art was created, which impressively conveys the ancient knowledge of hunting and fishing in 150 pages.

A Poet Vaunted by the Emperor

The author of this influential treatise was Oppian of Apamea, a 3rd century Greco-Roman poet. Originally from Syria, he became known when he presented his verses to the Roman Emperor Caracalla, who lauded him considerably for them. This didactic poem, which contains parts that concern themselves with hunting, constitutes the basis of the text for the manuscript, which was begun in the 11th century.

Valuable Miniatures in the Naturalist, Byzantine Style

The Treatise on Hunting and Fishing is impressively illustrated in 157 remarkable miniatures. Many fishing methods are presented, such as the use of nets, hutches, traps, spears, and lances. The hunters, ever adjoined by their horses and hounds, hunt various animals be they lions, birds, ducks, swine, rabbits, and many more. In wonderful, naturalistic pictures, the scenes with animals and other figures are intertwined with a memorable landscaped background. Alongside that, the depictions of fishing play out naturally over open water, where fisherman are seen casting forth their nets. Large swarms of fish populate the dark blue water. Stylistically, the miniatures orient themselves on Byzantine illumination, which demonstrate an astounding naturalism. The Greek text is entertainingly subdivided through detail rich depictions.

A Highlight of the Bessarion Collection

Greek minuscule lettering was added to part of the text in the 15th century. Cardinal Bessarion, in whose possession the manuscript ended up, gave forth a contract to complete the missing portions of the text. In the middle of the 15th century, this task was executed by the writer Georgios Trivizias, a priest of the Greek community in Venice. Therefore he relied upon the older, original Greek version of the famous text. Basilius Bassarion was a Byzantine humanist and theologian of the 15th century whose life's work consisted of spreading Greek culture and the writings of Greek philosophers in the Occident. When this Cardinal Bessarion gave his entire, extensive library as a gift to the city of Venice in 1468, the treatise also ended up through these means in the Marciana Library, where it has remained as a highlight of the collection through today.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Tratado de Caza y Pesca - Oppiano, Cynegetica
Traktat der Jagd und Fischerei
Traité de Chasse et de Pêche
Trattato di caccia e pesca
Tratado de Caça e Pesca
Size / Format
150 pages / 23.5 × 19.0 cm
Origin
Turkey
Date
11th century
Style
Language
Illustrations
157 splendid miniatures in the Byzantine style
Artist / School
Previous Owners
Cardinal Bessarion

Available facsimile editions:
Treatise on Hunting and Fishing - Oppiano, Cynegetica – Cod. Gr.Z.479 (=881) – Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana (Venice, Italy)
Patrimonio Ediciones – Valencia, 1999
Limited Edition: 999 copies
Detail Picture

Treatise on Hunting and Fishing - Oppiano, Cynegetica

Night Fishing

A fishing light attractor is used to lure fish closer to the surface and is particularly suitable for night fishing. This miniature shows a lamp attached to the front of a boat and fish swimming up toward it, which are observed by one of the fisherman who serves as a lookout. The fisherman in the center of the boat is dragging in a huge net full of fish while a third figure on the right is shown steering the boat. Various parts of the miniature are labelled in Greek.

Tratado de Caza y Pesca - Oppiano, Cynegetica
Single Page

Treatise on Hunting and Fishing - Oppiano, Cynegetica

Lion Hunting

The Greek text of this page, neatly written in black and red ink, concerns various methods for hunting lions, two of which are depicted in miniatures integrated into the text. This is also a wonderful specimen of Byzantine art during the period, which enjoyed a resurgence of Classical themes and aesthetics, including more naturalistic human figures in contrast to the typically iconographic Byzantine style.

The upper miniature shows a rider engaging a lion, driving his spear into the lion’s mouth. Emerging from heavy cover, it could be that the lion is attacking the rider, lunging out from the cover of the thick brush. In the lower miniature, two men dressed in short tunics and sod with Roman-style sandals trap a lion in nets before moving in for the kill.

Tratado de Caza y Pesca - Oppiano, Cynegetica
Facsimile Editions

#1 Tratado de Caza y Pesca - Oppiano, Cynegetica

Patrimonio Ediciones – Valencia, 1999
Treatise on Hunting and Fishing - Oppiano, Cynegetica – Cod. Gr.Z.479 (=881) – Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana (Venice, Italy)
Treatise on Hunting and Fishing - Oppiano, Cynegetica – Cod. Gr.Z.479 (=881) – Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana (Venice, Italy) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: Patrimonio Ediciones – Valencia, 1999
Limited Edition: 999 copies
Binding: Leather over wooden boards, as is the original
Commentary: 1 volume (232 pages) by Paolo Eleuteri, Susy Marcon and Italo Furlan
Languages: Spanish, English, Italian
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Price Category: €€€ (3.000€ - 7.000€)
Edition available
Price: Login here!
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