The hypnerotomachia poliphili as a possible model for topographical interpretations of rome in the early sixteenth century

N. Temple

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The ‘Dark Forest’ and the unhomely The opening passage of the ‘Dark Forest’ in Francesco Colonna’s Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (figure 1), with its vivid descriptions of uncontrolled nature, evokes feelings of disorientation and claustrophobia, in which the lost soul of Poliphilo is overcome by fear and a sense of the unhomely. In calling this mysterious place the ‘Harz’, or black forest, the author could be evoking a particular Humanist sentiment concerning the notion of ‘foreign presence’. Influenced by the ancient Roman idea of barbarism, its emergence in humanistic thought was initiated by Petrarch in the fourteenth century and became an important theme in the rhetorical writings of the Renaissance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-155
Number of pages11
JournalWord and Image
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


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