Free Library of Philadelphia


Opening page of the Art of Poetry

This page begins a treatise on poetics by the ancient Roman poet Quintius Horatius Flaccus (65-68 B.C.), known today simply as Horace. Although Horace was known throughout the Middle Ages, his writings became especially popular in the Renaissance with the Italian humanists who sought to revive Classical learning and literature.

The ideals of the humanists were also reflected in the design of their manuscripts. The elegant design of the initial recalls the letter forms used in Roman epigraphy. The relatively clear script that resembles modern handwriting (as compared to examples of Gothic bookhand) was favored by Renaissance patrons because they believed it represented Classical script. In truth, scribes and illuminators were copying from manuscripts produced in the ninth and tenth centuries during the Carolingian period.

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