Hypnerotomachia polifili

(1499)
   In English, The Dream of Polyphilus. Thought to have been written by the Dominican friar Francesco Colonna and published in Venice in 1499, the Hypnerotomachia Polifili is an architectural work of fiction amply illustrated with woodcuts. The hero in the story is Polyphilus who wanders through fantastic places in search of his love, Polia, whom he finally finds in the gardens of Adonis. The book is of particular interest to architectural historians as the woodcuts illustrate monuments from antiquity, revealing Renaissance attitudes toward them. The woodcut of the Island of Cythera, for example, includes a colosseum similar to that in Rome, and the temple of Venus is based on the Early Christian Santa Costanza, also in the papal city. The temple of the sun is a replica of the Greek Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, and the Polyandron necropolis for dejected lovers relies completely on a survey of the Greek ruins in Delos composed by Ciriaco d'Ancona in 1445. As Polyphilus wanders through these sceneries, he measures the structures and studies their inscriptions, hoping to learn the mysteries of the ancient past. The Hypnerotomachia gained great popularity at the end of the 16th century, as attested by the fact that it was translated into various languages.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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