Digital lecture Giulia Torello-Hill & Andrew Turner, 'Commentary and Illustration in the Lyon Terence'

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Employees , Students , Alumni
From 07-10-2021 10:00 on
Stefan Meysman

Digital lecture by Giulia Torello-Hill (University of New England, AUS) & Andrew Turner (University of Melbourne, AUS) on Judocus Badius' (1462-1535) Lyon Terence


The Lyon Terence, edited by the Fleming Jodocus Badius Ascensius in 1493, was the first printed edition of the plays of Terence to include a full cycle of woodcut illustrations. Illustrated manuscripts of Terence from the Middle Ages are well known and have been studied extensively, but the Lyon Terence has been unjustly overlooked.

This paper builds on the recently published The Lyon Terence: Its Tradition and Legacy (Brill 2020) to look closely at the interplay between woodcut illustrations and commentary. Although the identity of the artist who oversaw the design of the Lyon Terence’s iconographic plan is unknown, close correspondences between the commentary and the illustrations suggest a symbiotic dialogue between artist and editor.

Badius was already an authority on Terence—in 1491 he published an innovative edition of Terence and his late-antique commentator Donatus. Donatus’ brief notes on delivery of specific lines are usually taken as pedagogical advice on diction. Instead, this paper contends that, under the supervision of Badius, the artist of the Lyon Terence visually interpreted Donatus’ prescriptions as encompassing gestures, gaze orientation and bodily movement, following the consolidated tradition of Quintilian.

Arguably, the Lyon Terence could elicit in the Renaissance reader a different level of engagement, providing a detailed linguistic and cultural explanation of Terence’s text to the learned audience, while in turn offering a pictorial narrative to the leisured reader, who could see the plot unfolding before his very eyes.


Dr. Giulia Torello-Hill is a Lecturer in Italian at the University of New England in Armidale, Australia. She specialises in the reception of classical drama in the Renaissance. Her research explores the interplay between exegesis of ancient texts, iconographic tradition and performance practice in Renaissance Italy. She has held fellowships from Villa I Tatti the Harvard University Centre for Italian Renaissance Studies in Florence (2015-16) and the Renaissance Society of America and Kress Foundation (2018). She has recently co-authored with Andrew Turner The Lyon Terence: Its Tradition and Legacy (Brill, 2020) and has embarked on a new collaborative project on drama, music and orality in Renaissance Ferrara.

Dr. Andrew Turner is a researcher at the University of Melbourne, where he lectures on Latin literature. His research focuses on the transmission of Latin texts in the Middle Ages, and in 2011-12 he was a visiting fellow at the Flemish Academic Centre in Brussels, where he undertook a study of classical literary scholarship in mediaeval Flanders. His most recent research has focused the commentary traditions on the classical dramatists Terence and Seneca; besides his extensive work with Giulia Torello-Hill, he currently is part of a major research project on the first mediaeval commentary on Seneca’s dramas by Nicholas Trevet.


This digital lecture is organised by the Henri Pirenne Institute for Medieval Studies (HPIMS) and the Group for Early Modern Studies (GEMS) at Ghent University (BE). It open to all, but for digital security reasons we do ask registration with email by October 6th 2021 at the latest. For registration and info, simply get in touch with Dr. Stefan Meysman.

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Illustration: Eunuchus, from the edition of Terence published by Johannes Trechsel and Jodocus Badius Ascensius, Lyon 1493 (courtesy of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, München)