Hieroglyphs in the Renaissance: Rebirth or New Life? (Part 1)
Keywords:neo-hieroglyphs, Renaissance, Francesco Colonna, Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, neo-Platonism, hieroglyphs
This paper (the first of a series) deals with the reception of Egyptian hieroglyphs in the Renaissance. Humanists and artists were not much interested in deciphering the ancient Egyptian writing, which was increasingly revealing itself in the monuments that were rediscovered in the 15th and 16th centuries, mainly in Italy. Stimulated by the (neo-)Platonic vision of a purely symbolic mode of expressing ideas, and comforted in this by the edition of the Hieroglyphica, attributed (probably wrongly) to Horapollo, they created their own system of writing, which was first put in practice in Francesco Colonna’s Hypnerotomachia (Venice, 1499). After a general introduction, this paper presents the available documentation in a principled way, by sorting out the data according to their semiotic functions, whose mechanics will be dealt with in the second part of the study.
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