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Te r m i n o l o g y
There has been considerable debate on the desirability of differentiating between the various
types of text found in emblematic material; the imposition of a strict typology to the emblem is
ultimately not helpful, since it could impose a straight-jacket of expectation and interpretation.
At the same time, a proliferation of sub-categories of text-type (e.g."Prayer,""Meditation") would
open the possibility of over-elaboration, on the one hand, and inevitable incompleteness, on the
I have therefore settled,"en connaissance de cause," on the following terms to indicate the parts
of emblems.While the terms are open to discussion, and indeed not necessarily appropriate in all
emblems, they are well-understood, and solid enough to carry the discussion forward.
Emblem: an ensemble (usually bimedial) of motto(s), pictura(e), and subscriptio(nes), which is
sometimes accompanied by commentatio(nes). In any given emblem all or only some of these
may be present, as may more than one of each. In some cases the borderline between sub-
scriptio and commentatio may be difficult to define, and hence it is difficult to decide whether
commentatio is properly part of an emblem. In so far as it matters, I have assumed for our
purposes that commentationes are part of an emblem.
Motto: the title or (often) aphoristic phrase usually deemed to be the first element of an
Pictura: the woodcut / engraving / etching / painting / drawing providing the visual as
opposed to verbal element. Other elements from an emblem may be found in the pictura,
e.g., motto.
Subscriptio: the text, usually in verse, to be considered in conjunction with the motto and
Commentatio: text providing a further gloss on the combination of Motto / pictura(e) /
subscriptio(nes). In some cases (e.g., in prayers, or spiritual reflections found in some religious
emblem books) the use of commentatio as a label may be deemed inappropriate, but for the
present the portmanteau term is retained.
Tra n s c r i p t i o n N o r m s
A matter requiring urgent examination, albeit outwith the strict requirements of the Spine, is
the means of indicating norms of transcription, and usages in the representation of obsolete char-
acters and abbreviations. In this context Unicode presents the only sensible transcription medium.
Fo r m a t
The current format of the Spine is designed for ease of consultation and the illustration of basic
principles, in due course it will be expanded with, for example, the mapping of Dublin Core
metadata tags, and with illustrations and examples to aid implementation. It is also deemed
inevitable that the Spine will be subject to development and change, and that implementation
strategies will need to allow for flexibility of application.
L ayo u t
Some explanation of layout is required:
Column 1 contains a Heading label for convenience of reference.
Column 2 describes the nature of the Heading.
As Peter Boot has commented:
"About the distinction between
motto, subscriptio, commentatio
(and lesson, prayer, meditation,
sermon, application, etc.): it is
clearly impossible for us to develop
an `einwandfreie' typology of
emblem constituents." (E-mail:
5 November 2003)
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