Genealogia Deorum Gentilium
Genealogia deorum gentilium, known in English as On the Genealogy of the Gods of the Gentiles, is a mythography
A mythographer, or a mythologist is a compiler of myths. The word derives from the Greek "μυθογραφία" , "writing of fables", from "μῦθος" , "speech, word, fact, story, narrative" + "γράφω" , "to write, to inscribe". Mythography is then the rendering of myths in the arts...

 or encyclopedic compilation of the tangled family relationships of the classical pantheon
Pantheon (gods)
A pantheon is a set of all the gods of a particular polytheistic religion or mythology.Max Weber's 1922 opus, Economy and Society discusses the link between a...

s of Ancient Greece and Rome, written in Latin prose from 1360 onwards by the Italian
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

 author and poet Giovanni Boccaccio
Giovanni Boccaccio
Giovanni Boccaccio was an Italian author and poet, a friend, student, and correspondent of Petrarch, an important Renaissance humanist and the author of a number of notable works including the Decameron, On Famous Women, and his poetry in the Italian vernacular...


The work is "humanist
Renaissance humanism
Renaissance humanism was an activity of cultural and educational reform engaged by scholars, writers, and civic leaders who are today known as Renaissance humanists. It developed during the fourteenth and the beginning of the fifteenth centuries, and was a response to the challenge of Mediæval...

 in spirit and medieval in structure". According to the Preface Boccaccio undertook the project at the request of Hugh IV of Cyprus
Hugh IV of Cyprus
Hugh IV of Cyprus was King of Cyprus from 31 March 1324 to his abdication, on 24 November 1358 and, nominally, King of Jerusalem, as Hugh II, until his death...

. The first version was completed in 1360, and he continuously corrected and revised the work until his death in 1374, so that various redactions of the works were copied in different manuscript traditions. In his lifetime and for two centuries afterwards it was considered his most important work.

The full range of genealogies of the classical Gods are described in the fifteen books, drawing on the standard earlier works, especially the Liber imaginum deorum, a 12th century teatise by the otherwise unknown Albricus (possibly Alexander Neckam
Alexander Neckam
Alexander Neckam was an English scholar and teacher.-Biography:Born at St Albans, Hertfordshire, England, Neckam's mother, Hodierna, nursed the prince with her own son, who thus became Richard's foster-brother...

), and the older so-called Vatican Mythographies. These themselves drew on the late antique Christian Fulgentius
Fabius Planciades Fulgentius
Fabius Planciades Fulgentius was a late-antique period writer. Four extant works are commonly attributed to him, as well as a possible fifth which some scholars include in compilations with much reservation...

, and writers of the actual period of classical paganism, especially Ovid
Publius Ovidius Naso , known as Ovid in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who is best known as the author of the three major collections of erotic poetry: Heroides, Amores, and Ars Amatoria...

 and Statius
Publius Papinius Statius was a Roman poet of the 1st century CE . Besides his poetry in Latin, which include an epic poem, the Thebaid, a collection of occasional poetry, the Silvae, and the unfinished epic, the Achilleid, he is best known for his appearance as a major character in the Purgatory...

. Some Greek material was probably supplied by his Greek teacher Leontius Pilatus.

According to Malcolm Bull: "...Boccaccio does his best to make sense of the complex genealogy of the gods. But as he also allows for several gods of the same name, the result becomes enormously confusing. No subsequent mythographer followed his method of organizing material, yet Boccaccio's Genealogia retained its prestige and was to remain the most important mythological manual until the late sixteenth century." The next attempt at an equally comprehensive compilation on the subject of mythological genealogy would not come until 1548, when Giglio Gregorio Giraldi
Giglio Gregorio Giraldi
Giglio Gregorio Giraldi was an Italian scholar and poet.He was born at Ferrara, where he early distinguished himself by his talents and acquirements....

 published his De deis gentium. The Genealogia was unkindly described by Edward Gibbon
Edward Gibbon
Edward Gibbon was an English historian and Member of Parliament...

 in his Decline and Fall
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is a non-fiction history book written by English historian Edward Gibbon and published in six volumes. Volume I was published in 1776, and went through six printings. Volumes II and III were published in 1781; volumes IV, V, VI in 1788–89...

as "a work, in that age, of stupendous erudition, and which he ostentatiously sprinkled with Greek characters and passages, to excite the wonder and applause of his more ignorant readers." and "a work which, though now forgotten, has run through thirteen or fourteen editions", although in fact there is evidence that Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an English poet, Romantic, literary critic and philosopher who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was a founder of the Romantic Movement in England and a member of the Lake Poets. He is probably best known for his poems The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla...

 and Wordsworth read it together.

Boccaccio was responsible for spreading the story, which he credited to Theodontius
Theodontius was the author of a now lost Latin work on mythology. He was extensively quoted in Giovanni Boccaccio's Genealogia Deorum Gentilium, but is otherwise almost unknown. Boccaccio says that he knew Theodontius's work through the Collections of Paul of Perugia, which Paul's wife burnt after...

, that Demogorgon
Demogorgon, although often ascribed to Greek mythology, is actually attributed to a fourth-century scholar, imagined as the name of a pagan god or demon, associated with the underworld and envisaged as a powerful primordial being, whose very name had been taboo.-Etymology:The origins of the name...

 was the ancestor of all the heathen gods — based on a misspelled scholion to Statius
Publius Papinius Statius was a Roman poet of the 1st century CE . Besides his poetry in Latin, which include an epic poem, the Thebaid, a collection of occasional poetry, the Silvae, and the unfinished epic, the Achilleid, he is best known for his appearance as a major character in the Purgatory...

, which had intended to claim ancestry for Plato's Demiurge
The demiurge is a concept from the Platonic, Neopythagorean, Middle Platonic, and Neoplatonic schools of philosophy for an artisan-like figure responsible for the fashioning and maintenance of the physical universe. The term was subsequently adopted by the Gnostics...

. This gave rise to a literary and iconographic
Iconography is the branch of art history which studies the identification, description, and the interpretation of the content of images. The word iconography literally means "image writing", and comes from the Greek "image" and "to write". A secondary meaning is the painting of icons in the...

 tradition lasting to John Milton
John Milton
John Milton was an English poet, polemicist, a scholarly man of letters, and a civil servant for the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell...

 and Shelley
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Percy Bysshe Shelley was one of the major English Romantic poets and is critically regarded as among the finest lyric poets in the English language. Shelley was famous for his association with John Keats and Lord Byron...

. From the earliest manuscripts, some believed to be Boccaccio autographs, diagrammatic family tree
Family tree
A family tree, or pedigree chart, is a chart representing family relationships in a conventional tree structure. The more detailed family trees used in medicine, genealogy, and social work are known as genograms.-Family tree representations:...

s are included, which are thought to be the earliest non-Biblical uses of this type of graphic, which was already used in the form of the Jesse tree in art.

The last two books of the work include a defence of poetry that is his latest and most extended discussion of the subject.


  • French: Jean Miélot
    Jean Miélot
    Jean Miélot, also Jehan, was an author, translator, manuscript illuminator, scribe and priest, who served as secretary to Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy from 1449 to Philip's death in 1467, and then to his son Charles the Rash. He also served as chaplain to Louis of Luxembourg, Count of St....

     1468, produced for Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy
    Duke of Burgundy
    Duke of Burgundy was a title borne by the rulers of the Duchy of Burgundy, a small portion of traditional lands of Burgundians west of river Saône which in 843 was allotted to Charles the Bald's kingdom of West Franks...

  • English: The first volume of a projected three-volume set titled Genealogy of the Pagan Gods, translated by Jon Solomon, was published in May, 2011, by Harvard University Press under the I Tatti Renaissance Library imprint.

Printed editions

The first printed edition was in Venice
Venice is a city in northern Italy which is renowned for the beauty of its setting, its architecture and its artworks. It is the capital of the Veneto region...

 at the early date of 1472, of a version with some additions to the Genealogia, and other short works by Boccaccio, shortly followed by an edition of 1473 which was the first book printed in Leuven
Leuven is the capital of the province of Flemish Brabant in the Flemish Region, Belgium...

. Four further Italian incunabulum
Incunable, or sometimes incunabulum is a book, pamphlet, or broadside, that was printed — not handwritten — before the year 1501 in Europe...

editions were published, and a French translation in 1498 or 1499. All survive in healthy numbers, confirming the popularity of the work, which was reprinted in many more 16th century editions, some illustrated.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.