Humanist scholar and pedagogue Justus Lipsius (1547–1606) cherished the overly ambitious project to compose a true Fax historica, a comprehensive synthesis of Roman, Greek, Jewish, Egyptian, Persian, Macedonian, and Spanish history, together with their institutions and customs. In the Italian antiquarian tradition, Lipsius collected appropriate illustrations for his thematic commentaries on the writings of ancient historiographers and illustrated them with special care. However, his work devoted to the wonders of Rome, the Admiranda sive de Magnitudine Romana Libri IV (1598), has no illustrations. This article will formulate an answer to why Lipsius did not include illustrations in his Admiranda. An analysis of his attitude towards the Italian antiquarian tradition, his methodological approach to Roman antiquity, and his conceptualization of Rome’s greatness reveal Lipsius’s views on the relationship between text and image and, more importantly, his awareness of the philosophical and pedagogical shortcomings of both visual and textual sources for representing that greatness.
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