chapter  3
20 Pages

The web of myths

Maffeo Vegio’s Aeneid XIII as a metaphor for humanism In 1428 Maffeo Vegio published his Supplement to the Aeneid – more popularly referred to as Book XIII. Unapologetically attaching himself, not merely to a genealogical tradition, but literally to an iconic relic, Vegio, as Michael C. J. Putnam characterizes his remarkable act, “implicitly claim[ed] for himself the title of Vergil redivivus.”1 The boldness of Vegio’s affiliation impels us to try to distinguish between the Supplement as a cultural-genealogical incursion and as a metaphor for humanism itself. Vegio’s authorial self-embodiment as Virgil, auctoritate sine parem, adumbrates Christopher Columbus’s self-pedigreed prophecy fulfillment and all the later personifications of Columbus as a “neo-Aeneas.” The threshold between devolutionary authority and a sibylline verticality of history characterizes these early modern remythicizations as metaphors for transcultural descent.