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Mars And Minerva On The Hebrew Title Page

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Chapter Summary

In an article on the use of non-Jewish motifs in early Hebrew books, Joseph Reider observed that, "As to printed books, it is almost certain that the woodcuts used for general works in Greek and Latin were employed also for Hebrew works... ". A decorative frame of interest, and that the subject of this chapter, was first employed by Francesco Minizio Calvo, a printer of Latin and Italian books in Rome and Milan. It is comprised of an architectural border with standing representations of the mythological Mars and Minerva with shields, above them vines and fruits. At the center bottom is a wreath with a representation of Roma. The first Hebrew title printed in Sabbioneta was Mirkevet ha-Mishneh, a commentary on Deuteronomy by Don Isaac ben Judah Abrabanel (1437-1508). The title-page has the folio border with the mythological representations of Mars and Minerva.

Keywords: early Hebrew books; Francesco Minizio Calvo; Minerva; Mirkevet ha-Mishneh; mythological Mars; non-Jewish motifs



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