First English edition of the Nuremberg chronicle: being the Liber chronicarum of Dr. Hartmann Schedel…

At about this time the kings of Italy commenced to reign. Their names frequently changed. The very first was Janus. He built a palace that was named Janiculum after him. Later he was held to be a great god. He is portrayed with two faces, and his holiday was the beginning of the year. He was the end of the old year and the beginning of the new. The first month, January, is for him.[Janus was worshipped by both the Etruscans and the Romans, and occupied an important place in the Roman religion. He presided over the beginning of everything, and was therefore always invoked first in every undertaking, even before Jupiter. He opened the year and the seasons, and hence the first month of the year was called after him. He was the porter of heaven, and therefore bore the surname Patulcus, or Patulcius, the "opener," and Clusius, or Clusivius, the "shutter." In this capacity he is represented with a key in his left hand and a staff or scepter in his right. On earth also he was the guardian deity of the gates, and hence is commonly represented with two heads, because every door looks two ways. He is sometimes represented with four heads, because he presided over the four seasons. At Rome, Numa is said to have dedicated to Janus the covered passage bearing his name, which was opened in the time of war, and closed in time of peace. This passage is commonly, but erroneously, called a temple. It stood close by the forum. It appears to have been left open in time of war to indicate that the god had gone out to assist the Roman warriors, and to have been shut in time of peace that the god, the safeguard of the city, might not escape. On New Year’s Day, which was the principal festival of the god, people gave presents to each other, consisting of sweetmeats and copper coins, showing on one side the double head of Janus, and on the other a ship. The sacrifices offered to him consisted of cakes, barley, incense and wine.]

Saturn, the king, was the father of Jove, the Cretan Zeus, the son of Arius, the son of Ninyas, the son of Ninus, the son of Belus, the son of Nimrod; he began to reign in the time of Isaac, and was thereafter ousted from the kingdom by his son Jove. Now as Janus saw that Saturn wished to assume the life of a peaceful citizen, and desired to plant vineyards and teach their cultivation, he hospitably received him and shared the kingdom with him. And Saturn bore Picus, who ruled after him. Some call Saturn by the name of Stercutius from manure (stercus), the use of which he, as a most informed husbandman, discovered. For this reason, after his death, they made him a god of agriculture and good fortune. The Romans pictured Saturn with a sad countenance gray with age, in his left hand a scythe, in his right a flame-spewing dragon. His sorrowful countenance indicated that he had been driven out of his own country, or that the appearance of Saturn, the star, foreboded grievous things. Item: And as this star is the coldest in its operations, the ram and the water carrier (Aquarius), which indicate Saturn, are also considered cold signs. Item: the gray hair symbolizes that he discovered husbandry, or that by reason of his cold nature he is an enemy of humankind; for (as Servius states) he held in his left arm the children whom he slew with his scythe. Item: the dragon denotes that he is the end of the year. He is also called the father of Jove, for he is higher than Jupiter. He also wears a water-colored garment, for his star is by nature moist and cold. Saturn loves to receive the sacrifice of a young person by death; for the devil, being envious of the human race, dotes on human sacrifice and the spilling of human blood.

According to the popular belief of the Romans, Saturn made his first appearance in Italy when Janus was reigning over the fertile region that stretches along the banks of the Tiber. Ejected from his own country, he presented himself to Janus, and was kindly received. He proceeded to instruct the people in agriculture and many other arts then unknown to them, for example, how to train and nurse the vine, and how to cultivate fruit trees. And so he raised the people from their rude condition to one of peace and order. In consequence he was held in high esteem, and in course of time Janus shared with him the government of the kingdom, which thereupon assumed the name of Saturnia, ‘a land of seed and fruit.’ The poets called his time the golden age. Once a year, in December, the Romans held a feast, the Saturnalia, in his honor.

Sterculius, Stercutius, or Sterquilinus are surnames of Saturn, derived from stercus, manure, because he had promoted agriculture by teaching the people the use of manure. Saturn’s temple stood at the foot of the clivus Capitolinus leading from the Forum where the ruins of a late restoration of it are still visible. It contained the Republican treasury. The feet of his statue were bound together by woolen bands, probably to keep it from running away. He was untied during the Saturnalia to join in the fun.

Juno, a daughter of Saturn and Ops, and a sister and wife of Jupiter, lived at this time. Through pagan error she was regarded as the queen of the gods, and so became the goddess of the kingdom’s finances and of marriage. And they imagined her to be the guardian of women in childbirth; so they made her a beautiful chariot and a coat of arms, and assigned to her fourteen excellent maids. She was also waited upon by a peacock, in whose tail (as Ovid states) she set the eyes of her herdsman, Argus, who was slain by Mercury. Juno bore Vulcan by Jupiter, and upon her death was finally accounted a goddess. The Samians erected a noble temple to her.

Juno (the Hera of the Greeks), was the sister and wife of Jupiter, the Zeus of the Greeks. As Jupiter was the king of heaven, so his spouse was its queen. As such she was worshipped at Rome. As Jupiter was the protector of the male sex, so she was the protectress of the female. She was supposed to accompany every woman through life. Moreover, she was the guardian of the realm’s finances, and under the name Moneta, had a temple, which contained the mint. Being a married goddess, she was believed especially to preside over marriage. June, originally called Junonius, was considered the most favorable period for marrying. Women in childbirth invoked Juno Lucina, and newly born children were likewise under her protection. In the representations of the Roman Juno that have come down to us, the type of the Greek Hera is commonly adopted.

A splendid temple was erected to Hera at Samos. She is usually represented as a majestic woman of mature age, with a beautiful forehead, large and wide-open eyes, and a grave expression commanding reverence. Her hair is adorned with a crown or diadem. A veil frequently hangs down the back of her head, to characterize her as the bride of Zeus, and the diadem, veil, scepter and peacock are her usual attributes.

The Argus to whom the Chronicle refers was surnamed Panoptes, "the all-seeing," because he had a hundred eyes. Hera appointed him guardian of her cow into which Io had been metamorphosed. But Hermes (Mercury) at the command of Zeus, put Argus to death, either by stoning him, or by cutting off his head, after sending him to sleep with sweet notes of his flute. Hera transplanted his eyes to the tail of the peacock, her favorite bird.

Poets describe the marital difficulties of Zeus and Hera at great length. She was extremely jealous of his early amours. On one occasion, at least, Jupiter beat his spouse, and threw her son Hephaestus (Vulcan) out of Olympus. As goddess of storms, Hera was consistently described as the mother of Ares (Mars), occasionally herself taking part in wars.

Picus, the son of Saturn, was the first king of Laurentum, and an excellent warrior. He was also a prophet in interpreting the cries of birds. He was assigned a rank among the gods. [ Picus, a purely Roman deity, was the son and successor of Saturn. He was an ancient prophet and forest god. According to one story he loved and married Pomona. Circe, the witch, was attracted by his beauty, but finding her affection unreciprocated, avenged herself by changing him into a woodpecker, a bird held to be a sacred symbol of prophecy by the Augurs, or Roman priests, whose office was to foretell coming events by observing the flight of birds and other phenomena. Besides being worshipped as a god, Picus was also regarded as one of the first kings of Italy. According to another legend, Picus was not changed into a woodpecker, but merely made use of that bird in his prophetic art. He was a famous soothsayer and augur. The whole legend of Picus is founded on the notion that the woodpecker (picus) is a prophetic bird.]

Faunus was the second king of Laurentum and was also a god, according to some who chose to call him such. [ Faunus was a son of Picus. He corresponds to the Greek Pan, and the Roman poets frequently called the latter "Faunus." But Faunus had certain myths peculiar to himself. He delivered oracles in groves and communicated them by means of dreams, which those desiring them obtained by sleeping in sacred places on hides of animals that had been offered as sacrifices.]

All the women who prophesy, or foretell the future, are commonly, according to the Greek tongue, called Sibyls. The very learned speak of ten of these: as one from Persia; the second from Libya; the third from Delphi; the fourth from Cimmeria; the fifth from Erythrea; the sixth from Samos; the seventh from Cumaea, or Amalthea; the eighth form the Hellespont; the ninth from Phrygia, the tenth from Tiburtina.

Sibylla is a name designating a number of prophetic women in various countries and at different times in antiquity. The first and original Sibyl is said to have been a daughter of Dardanus and Neso. The number of Sibyls varied according to authors from one by Plato to twelve by other writers: Erythrean, Samian, Egyptian, Sardinian, Babylonian, Libyan, Delphian, Cimmerian, Hellespontine, Phrygian, Tiburtine and Cumaean. The most famous of these was the Cumaean Sibyl, identified with Herophile of Erythrae in Ionia, and who was thought to have lived a thousand years. She was consulted by Aeneas concerning his descent into Hades and sold to the last Tarquin three prophetic books at a price he refused to give for the original nine, six of which she had burned.

The derivation and meaning of ‘Sibylla’ are unknown, but certainly are not Greek. In the period preceding the development of the full classical culture (about 800-600 BCE), religious movements of all sorts were common in Greece and Asia Minor, and especially, inspired prophets were numerous. Many prophecies, generally in hexameter verse, the usual meter of Apolline oracles, were attributed to the Erythrean Sibyl, and her popularity led ultimately to her multiplication, numerous places claiming, from about the 4th century on, to be her native city, or to have been visited by her, or to be the birthplace of another Sibyl of like inspiration. Varro gives a list of ten, which includes the famous Cumaean Sibyl, often identified with the Erythrean.

The Sibylla was supposed to be the authoress of the Sibylline Oracles, which were kept in the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus at Rome under the care of the quindecimviri and consulted in emergencies by order of the Senate. Apollo loved her and granted her the gift of prophecy, and also a life of as many years as she had grains of dust in her hand; but she forgot to ask for youth, and so gradually withered away almost to nothing. Finally, Jewish and Christian apologists discovered a Judaean or Babylonian Sibyl to whom were attributed the numerous prophecies, still extant, containing Judaeo-Christian propaganda.

The Sibylline Oracles have been defined as a collection of Apocalyptic writings, composed in imitation of the Greek and Roman Sibylline books by the Jews and, at a later date, by the Christians in their efforts to win the pagan world to their faith. The fact that they copied the Greek form in which the revelations were conveyed, and the Homeric language, is evidence of a degree of external Hellenization, which is an important fact in the history of post-exilic Judaism. Book III contains Jewish oracles relative to the Golden Age established by Roman supremacy in the East about the middle of the second century BCE. Book IV is a definite attack upon the ‘heathen’ Sibyl (the Jews and Christians did not attempt to pass off their "forgeries" as genuine) as the mouthpiece of Apollo by a Jew who speaks for the Great God and yet uses a Greek review of ancient history from the Assyrian empire. Book V contains a more developed form of the myth of Nero redivivus in which a panegyric on him has been brought up to date by some Jew or Christian, and eulogies of Hadrian and his successor, side by side, with the legend of the miserable death of Titus in revenge for his destruction of Jerusalem, which probably represents the hope of the zealots who survived it. The remaining books appear to be Christian, and to belong to the 2nd and 3rd centuries.


Juno is represented by the same illustration that portrayed Ceres at Folio XXV, recto. There is nothing Greek or Roman about the portrait—just a commonplace medieval portrait of any woman.


The Lineage of the Sovereigns of Italy appears here in illustration for the first time. It covers the full length of the page, and includes Janus, the prime mythological ancestor; Saturn, who became his partner in government; and Picus, and Faunus, respectively Saturn’s son and grandson. All four are represented in regal attire with crown, orb, and scepter. The portraits of all four are the same used in the Greek Lineage (Folio XXIX, recto) of Inachus, Phoroneus, Serapis, and Argus.