255K JPEG file

263K JPEG file

184K JPEG file

Typographic Exemplars


16th Century. From an album of excised initials (original source unknown).
Sometimes the level of historiation in an initial was such that an actual scene from mythology or the Bible was depicted. Readers of the period here intimately familiar with classical literature easily recognized the little scenes played out behind the letters. The meanings of this group of initials are included here for those who aren't quite as familiar with ancient tales.

The first image is of Socrates leaving the city of Athens in disgrace after his exile by the thirty tyrants the ruling autocracy of the city-state.

The second image is an enigmatic scene showing a fallen warrior nursed by a maiden, but apparently in danger of being slain by his enemy at night.

The third image shows Alexander the Great visiting the cynic philosopher Diogenes, who received him rudely. Amused but the philosopher's insolence, Alexander asked what service he could render: "Stand between me and the Sun," replied Diogenes.
Keywords: initials

16th Century | Cary Collection