The literary culture of the renaissance Venetian empire

Erin Maglaque

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This article examines a corpus of fifteenth-century geographical and epigraphical literature representing the Venetian Mediterranean empire. It was collected and read by Venetian patrician men who were both humanists and part of the political class that governed Venice and its empire. Navigating between literary analysis and history of the book, the article first examines the Venetian legacy of the writings of Cyriac d’Ancona, before investigating the provenance of individual books and their collecting histories. Then, it turns to study the marginalia and annotations in these books by Venetian readers. It suggests that, in its composite construction, this literature provided ways for Venetian readers to imagine their own composite maritime state, particularly its history. Building on recent art historical analysis, I argue that the legitimacy that the aura of antiquity gave to the Venetian imperial enterprise was one of persistence: the Mediterranean empire was a space in which Venetians could encounter a living Greco-Roman imperial past.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalItalian Studies
Issue number1
Early online date3 Jan 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • Renaissance Venice
  • Stato da mar
  • Mediterranean
  • Geography
  • Cartography
  • Annotation
  • History of the Book


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