2.05 Megiser 1614

Hieronymus Megiser, Delitiae neapolitanae, Leipzig 1605, bound together with Warhafftige vnd schöne Historien aller Römischen Keyseren…, Magdeburg 1614

Be 3430-2050 raro II

The polymath and historian Hieronymus Megiser (1557-1619) is regarded as the founder of German-language travel literature oriented towards cultural history. He himself had travelled through Italy before writing his description of the Kingdom of Naples. The 17 illustrations consist of maps, city plans, views of towns and landscapes. However, other illustrations must have been planned originally, because places indexed with letters in the text cannot be assigned to those in the prints. The illustration of Solfatara shows the basin with columns of smoke. In the foreground there is a couple on horseback; unusually, a female tourist avant la lettre appears in the image. The illustration of the ‘Antrum Charoneum’ shows the effect of the poisonous fumes from the cave – also called ‘Cave of the Dogs’ – which kill animals and humans. However, if a dog is immediately thrown into the adjacent lake of Agnano, it comes back to life, which, according to Megiser, ‘is proven and found true every day by foreigners arriving there’. [PH]

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