De Cruce

For reasons soon to be evident, today reminds me of a book I was assigned to work on with a group one semester. The purpose of the assignment was to research the book and write up an analytic bibliography of the copy we were given. Our book was Justus Lipsius’s De Cruce, which I present below.

Justus Lipsius (1547 – 1606059) was a 16th century philogian, scholar of classics, and professor from the Netherlands. Lipsius is recognized as the founding father of Neostoicism and, according to the essayist Montagne, the most learned man of his time. One of his primary academic interests was to reconcile the Stoic teachings of Seneca with that of Christianity, and subsequently his most famous work, the multi-volume series De Constantia, was foundational to many of the key themes of the Reformation and humanist intellectual movements.

063Additionally, Lipsius wrote numerous texts on ethics, history, politics, and miscellaneous religious tracts; the text in this study, De Cruce, is one such religious text. A scholar of classical studies and language, it is believed that Lipsius wrote De Cruce as a means of demonstrating his reconciliation with Catholicism and religious piety to his new employer, the College of Louvain, after a lifetime of religious drifting.

The first edition of De Cruce was printed in Antwerp in 1593/1594 by Jan Moretus’ printing house. It contained 22 unsigned etchings depicting various crucifixion scenes, and although the illustrations are unsigned and without specific documentation, scholars believe the images could be the work of Peeter vander Borcht. Although the identity of the artist is not assured, archival research has turned up documentation as to where the etchings were printed, and that was in Antwerp by Lynken van Lanckvelt, who received 168 guilders for the service.

This copy of Justus Lipsius’ De Cruce was printed in 1670 in Amsterdam by the printer Andreas Frisius. It appears to be the first of two printings produced by Frisius, and the 1670 edition was printed in a single edition with a second text, Titulus Sanctae Crucis: seu Historia et Mysterium; Tituli Santae Crucis Domini Nostri Iesu Christi Libri Duo by Honoré Nicquet.


In case you were wondering about the title:


The text explores the types and natures of crucifixion, with accompanying woodcut images. One particular image (that I completely neglected to get a picture of, so Wikipedia will have to supply) has been, if not the source, then the kindling of a longstanding debate between various Christian denominations. You can probably see why:

Other varieties from the text:



1 Comment

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One response to “De Cruce

  1. Frisius was also the editor of Curtius’ “De clavis dominicis liber” the very same year. Curiously, the copy that I own of this book was binded showing “Lipsius De Cruce” in its lettering piece and has almost the same frontispice of the man sitting while holding some books.

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