The Humanist Interpretation of Hieroglyphs in the Allegorical Studies of the Renaissance

With a Focus on the Triumphal Arch of Maximilian I


Editor: Robin Raybould
The Hieroglyphenkunde by Karl Giehlow published in 1915, described variously by critics as “a masterpiece”, “magnificent”, “monumental” and “incomparable”, is here translated into English for the first time. Giehlow’s work with an initial focus on the Hieroglyphica of Horapollo, the manuscript of which was discovered by Giehlow, was a pioneering attempt to introduce the thesis that Egyptian hieroglyphics had a fundamental influence on the Italian literature of allegory and symbolism and beyond that on the evolution of all Renaissance art.

The present edition includes the illustrations of Albrecht Dürer from the Pirckheimer translation of the Horapollo from the early fifteenth century.
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Biographical Note

Robin Raybould (MA, LLM, Cambridge) is an independent scholar and linguist specializing in the Renaissance literature of symbolism. His translation and commentary brings Giehlow’s text up to date, greatly augments the original work and results in an important piece of historical scholarship which will open up further avenues of study for a new generation of Renaissance researchers.

Review Quotes

“[Giehlow’s] monograph is seen as a pioneering work in proposing that Egyptian hieroglyphics had an important influence in the literature of allegory and symbolism in the Italian Renaissance and in Renaissance art. […] Subsequent scholarship has shown Giehlow’s treatise to be a pioneering work, and hopefully this publication will inspire further investigation.”
John Hendrix, Roger Williams University. In: Renaissance Quarterly, Vol. 69, No. 1 (Spring 2016), pp. 230-231.

Table of contents

Chapter 1 · Scope and aim of the study
Chapter 2 · The hieroglyphs of the Italian humanists
Chapter 3 · Hieroglyphs on the Egyptian monuments known in Rome in the XVth century
Chapter 4 · Fra Francesco Colonna and his hieroglyphs
Chapter 5 · Hieroglyphic studies in the Italian cinquecento
Chapter 6 · The Hieroglyphica of Pierio Valeriano Bolzano: a life’s work
Chapter 7 · The hieroglyphic origins of the Emblemata of Alciato
Chapter 8 · The hieroglyphics of the German and French humanists
Appendices and bibliography


A scholarly, research-oriented audience, consisting perhaps of advanced undergraduates, graduate students and post-graduate researchers. This important translation not only makes his work accessible to a wider audience, it will reinvigorate the discussion of the hieroglyphic phenomenon in the Renaissance.

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