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

Babylon was a celebrated city in Chaldea. Although Belus, the son of Nimrod, reigned in Babylonia for many years, the kingdom remained small. Yet the Greek and Roman historians, as well as the poets, say that the city was built by Semiramis, the queen, and enlarged and fortified with a wall made of baked bricks cemented together with sand, pitch and lime. The earth there contains these materials. This city was so noble that all Chaldea and Mesopotamia were named after it. The wall (as Philostratus[Philostratus (170-245) was a Greek sophist and rhetorician of Rome. He is the biographer of Apollonius of Tyana, a Greek philosopher of the Neo-Pythagorian school, born of a few years before the Christian era. The narrative of the travels of Apollonius, as given by his disciple Damis and reproduced by Philostratus, is so full of the miraculous that many have regarded him as an imaginary character. On his return to Europe from his Asiatic travels, Apollonius was received with reverence as a magician. Finally he set up a school at Ephesus, where he died, apparently at the age of 100 years. His life by Philostratus is generally regarded as a religious work of fiction. Very little is known of the career of Philostratus. He was probably born at Lemnos, studied rhetoric under Proclus and taught at Athens, and settled in Rome. He wrote a number of works in addition to his , upon which his fame chiefly rests. His is not really biographical, but consists of picturesque impressions of leading representatives. The contains matters of interest concerning the Olympian games and contests. The breathe the spirit of the New Comedy and the Alexandrine poets. Portions of 33 are almost literally translated in Ben Johnson’s Song to Selia, "Drink to me only with thine eyes."] states) is 380 times one-eighth of a mile[380 furlongs.] in circumference; but Pliny says its circumference was 64,000 paces, its thickness 50 elbows,[An obsolete measurement of length; same as cubit, being the length of the forearm measured from the elbow to the end of the middle finger, and varying from 18 to 21.888 inches; generally reckoned at 21 inches.] and its height four times as much. With its battlements, pleasure gardens, temples and towers, the city was wonderful indeed. Semiramis also brought Ethiopia under her sway; and she made war upon India, against which only she and Alexander had conducted a campaign up to that time. How Babylonia was destroyed is recorded hereafter in its proper place. The first king of the Assyrians (as Eusebius writes) was Ninus, the son of Belus. Ninus reigned 52 years, and his wife Semiramis 42 years after him; then for 38 years Sameus,[Should be Ninyas.] the son of both; and thereafter one king after another up to Sardanapalus, the 36th king, who was totally inclined to carnal excesses and audacity. Then the kingdom of Assyria was destroyed by Artus, the Mede, and added to Media in the fourth year of Azariah, the king of Judea. The duration of the kingdom of Assyria, from the first year to the last king is reckoned as 1240 years.[Sardanapalus, the last king of the Assyrian empire of Ninus or Nineveh, was noted for his luxury, licentiousness and effeminacy. He passed his time in his palace unseen by any of his subjects, dressed in female apparel, surrounded by his concubines. At length Arbaces (whom the chronicler refers to as Artus), satrap of Media, and Belesys, the noblest of the Chaldean priests, resolved to renounced allegiance to such a worthless monarch, and at the head of a formidable army advanced against Nineveh. Suddenly the effeminate prince threw off his luxurious habits, and appeared an undaunted warrior. Twice he defeated the rebels, but was at length worsted and obliged to shut himself up in Nineveh. Here he sustained a siege of two years, till at length the Tigris having undermined part of the city wall, and finding it impossible to hold out any longer, he collected all his treasures, wives and concubines, and placing them on an immense pile, set it on fire in his palace and thus destroyed both himself and them. His enemies then obtained possession of the city. The death of Sardanapalus and the fall of the Assyrian empire is dated to 876 BCE. Modern writers have shown that this narrative is mythical and must not be received as genuine history. The legend of Sardanapalus, who so strangely appears at one time as sunk in the lowest effeminacy, and immediately afterwards as an heroic warrior, has probably arisen from his being the same with the god Sandon, who was worshipped extensively in Asia, both as an heroic and as a female divinity. The name Sardanapalus is derived from that of Assur-danin-pal, the rebel son of Shalmaneser II, whose reign ended with the fall of Nineveh in 823 BCE. His character is that ascribed to Assur-bani-pal.] Item: Concerning Semiramis, Valerius Maximus[Valerius Maximus, a Latin writer, flourished in the reign of Tiberius. His narratives are loosely and irregularly arranged, and are from Roman history; but each section includes extracts from the annals of other peoples, principally the Greeks. The author’s chief sources are Cicero, Livy, Sallust and Pompeius Trogus. He often used sources now lost, and affords us some glimpses of much debated and imperfectly recorded reign of Tiberius. He intimates that this book is to be used as a commonplace book of historical anecdotes for use in the schools of rhetoric. The collection was very popular in the Middle Ages.] relates that once upon a time, when she was having her hair dressed, and it was announced to her that Babylon was defeated or repulsed, she ran with her hair half braided, to again give battle for the city; and she paid no further attention to her coiffure until she again had the city in her power. The column in the illustration shows her statue.

Jupiter, the first in heaven, and (as they say) Diei Filius,[He was not called Dieus Filius (the Son of Heaven) but Diespiter, of which Jupiter (more correctly Jup-piter) was a contraction; originally identical with divum (heaven) and pater (father). Jupiter literally means "the heavenly father." The German translation "sun of the day," is clearly incorrect. ] and otherwise called Lysania,[A corruption of Lycaeus, a certain local deity, referred to in a subsequent note (on Jupiter), being known to the Greeks as Zeus Lycaeus.] was at these times greatly esteemed in Arcadia. Because of his virtue he was given the highly renowned name of Jupiter. He traces his origin to the son of Heber, namely, Jerari,[Heber was a descendant of Shem (one of the three sons of Noah) and the father of Peleg (the ancestor of Abraham) and Joktan (the ancestor of the thirteen tribes of Joktanite Arabs). One of these thirteen sons was Jerah, and no doubt it is his stock to whom the chronicler refers as "Jerari." The chronicler’s claim that the supreme Greek deity traces his origin along Semitic lines is wrong. The Greeks traced their ancestry through Javan, one of the sons of Japheth, representing the Aryan branch of the human race. On a previous page the chronicler himself stated that of Javan came the Greeks and the Ionians (Folio XVI recto). See also Genesis 11:26.] and since he was a man of great intelligence, and observed that the Attic people were uncouth and lived almost like animals, he gave them laws and prescribed a formula of correct living and human conduct. And when he had succeeded in bringing them to observe good morals, he admonished them to worship gods and to institute altars, temples and priests. He taught them to observe the institution of lawful marriage, whereas theretofore they all had wives in common; and many other useful matters they learned from him. Now as the forest folk observed these things, and wondered therat, they came to consider him a god, called him Jupiter because of his resemblance to the planet Jupiter, which (as the astronomers say) is by nature warm and moist in due proportions, virtuous and patient, and by reason of his patience, fearless in the presence of danger. And so, because of his qualities, he was adjudged the equal of the planet and named after him. They say he is not a mundane, but celestial being. The ancients credited him with many children such as, Minerva, Apis, Sol, Diana, Mercury and seven others.

Jupiter, so called by the Romans, and the Zeus of the Greeks, was originally an elemental divinity. Being the lord of heaven (Diespiter), he was worshipped as the god of rain, storms, thunder and lightning, as well as the prince of light. The Greek Zeus was the greatest of the Olympian gods. When he and his brothers distributed the government of the world among themselves by lot, Poseidon (Neptune) obtained the sea, Hades (Pluto) the lower world, and Zeus (Jupiter) the heavens and the upper regions; but the earth became common to all. According to Homer, Zeus dwelt on Mt. Olympus, in Thessaly, which was believed to penetrate heaven itself with its lofty summit. He is called the father of gods and men, the most high and powerful among the immortals, and whom all others obey. Such was the Olympian Zeus. But mythology originally and at various places created such a god: (1) The Arcadian Zeus, who according to legend was born in Arcadia, either on Mt. Parrhasium, or on Mt. Lycaeus. Lycaon, a son of Pelasgus (heroic ancestor of the Pelasgians, the earliest inhabitants of Greece), erected a temple to Zeus Lycaeus on the mountain of that name, and instituted the festival of Lycea in his honor; (2) the Dodonaean Zeus, who possessed the most ancient oracle in Greece, at Dodona in Epirus, from which he derived his name. He was a prophetic god; (3) the Cretan Zeus, of whom Hesiod gives an account. He calls Zeus the son of Cronos and Rhea. Cronos was in the habit of swallowing his children immediately after birth, but when Rhea was about to bear Zeus, she applied to Ouranus ("Heaven") and Gaia ("Earth") for advice as to how the child might be saved. They sent her to Lyctos in Crete, requesting her to bring up her child there. Accordingly she concealed the infant in a cave of Mt. Aegaeon, and gave Cronos a stone wrapped up in cloth, which he swallowed in belief that it was his son. There Zeus was brought up on the milk of the goat Amalthea, and the honey provided by the bees of the mountain; (4) the National Hellenic Zeus, whose temple was at Olympia in Ellis. Here also Zeus was regarded as the father and king of gods and men.

In the course of time the local divinities became united in the minds of the people into one great national divinity, which is apparently not the one whom the chronicler had in mind in this narrative What he says refers to a local one, not Roman, as his use of the name Jupiter instead of Zeus might indicate—the Arcadian god; for he gives him the alias, ‘Lysania,’ a corruption of ‘Lycaeus.’ It was this god who was surnamed Lycaeus.

Certain traditions concerning one Lycaon are here enlightening. It was he who established the worship of Zeus Lycaeus in Arcadia. Some describe him, and not Zeus Lycaeus (as the chronicler would have it), as the first civilizer of Arcadia and builder of the town of Lycosura. More often he was represented as an impious king, with a large number of sons as impious as himself.

The claim of the chronicler that Jupiter was named after the planet seems improbable. It is more likely that the planets were named after the gods than that the latter were named after the former. Moreover, the very etymology of the name, as already given, would contradict such a claim. The name refers to and implies attributes of a god, and not of a planet.

Babylon and Babylonia

5-1/2" x 8-3/4"

This, according to the inscription, is the city of Babylon. Moreover, the Chronicle itself assures us that the serious young lady standing on the high pillar in the heart of the city, clad in regal robes, scepter in one hand and sword in the other, is none other than the warlike Semiramis herself—builder, ruler, and defender of that ancient and powerful city. These walls may not be fifty feet wide and four times as high (reckoning to every foot three fingers’ breadth beyond the ordinary measure of our foot) as Pliny states, but they do look somewhat formidable nevertheless. The stream at the right must be the Euphrates, which flowed through the ancient capital. The dome to the right of the mighty queen is probably the temple of Jupiter Belus, son of Nimrod and father of Ninus. There are other imposing structures, medieval castles, dome-shaped buildings, a watchtower with spacious timbered super-structure, two churches, etc. Note the peculiar tree, aspiring to the dizzy heights of Semiramis, and read Mark 11:12-21.


2" x 2"

Jupiter is differently portrayed in the Latin and German editions of the Chronicle; but in neither case is the great god portrayed according to the classical ideal and traditions.

The portrait in the German edition is that of an elderly bearded gentleman, with the proverbial cap and gown. He emerges from a floral decoration, and strangely enough makes the apostolic sing of blessing.

The portrait in the Latin edition is also not a very happy selection. This "Jupiter" is a little beyond the prime of life and heavily dressed in cap and gown suitable to a medieval merchant, rhetorician or doctor of philosophy.

Classical portraiture is entirely absent from the Chronicle.