The medieval term mappa mundi (also forma mundi, historia/istoire) covers a broad array of maps of the world of which roughly 1100 survive. These have resisted systematic classification, but the clearly dominant type is one that aims at comprehensively symbolistic representation. Its early, schematic form is a disc composed of three continents surrounded and separated from one another by water (“T-O Map”) and associated with the three sons of Noah: Asia (Shem) occupies all of the upper half, Europe (Japhet) to the left and Africa (Ham) to the right share the lower half. Quadripartite cartographic schemes included the antipodes as a fourth continent, but the tripartite model was adopted by the large majority of the more developed world maps in use from the 11th century on and—with important variations—well into the Renaissance. While details were added as available space permitted, the Mediterranean continued to serve as the vertical axis and, with diminishing clarity, the rivers Don and Nile as the horizontal one. The map also continues to be ‘oriented’ towards Asia, where paradise sits at the very top. A circular ocean forms the perimeter and not infrequently the city of Jerusalem constitutes its centre....
(b Mantua, July 10, 1533; d Ferrara, Feb 26, 1611).
Italian writer. He entered the Jesuit Order in 1559, and was an energetic teacher, diplomat and campaigner against heretics. He also wrote a great many books, the outstanding works being the Moscovia (1586), important for information on the Russia of that time, and the Bibliotheca selecta (1593), a broad and systematic treatise on divine and human sciences. The 17th book of the Bibliotheca selecta deals with poetry and painting. Like other parts of the work, it was published on its own (1595), with additions and under the title Tractatio de poesi et pictura ethnica, humana et fabulosa collata cum vera, honesta et sacra. Possevino was convinced of the close affinity between poetry and painting and believed that painters must have a wide literary and scientific education. He referred to the major ancient and modern writers on painting, providing the first attempt at a critical bibliography on the subject. The theological and moral correctness of images interested him intensely. The ...