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9 A New Heraldry: Vision and Rhetoric in the Carrara Herbal

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Chapter Summary

Known in contemporary scholarship as the Carrara Herbal, the book contains a vernacular translation of Serapion the Younger's thirteenth-century treatise on plant and animal medicines, the Liber aggregatus in medicinis simplicibus. The emphasis on empirically based observation may anticipate the scientific accuracy of illustrations in later books on plant medicine; however, focusing on this characteristic to the exclusion of other illustrative and textual elements of the book fails to account for the late fourteenth-century reader's interpretive framework. This framework is as informed by notions of kinship, rhetoric, and memory in circulation in Padua as it is by notions of pictorial realism. Viewed in conjunction with the prominent heraldry on the frontispiece, book's design dynamic mimics the relationship between the forms of heraldry and their owners, in which a symbolic, unreal image serves as a metaphor for a specific, real individual or family.

Keywords: animal medicine; Carrara Herbal; family heraldry; pictorial realism; plant medicine



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