The Medieval and Renaissance Transmission of the Tabula Peutingeriana
Tabula Peutingeriana: Le Antiche Vie Del Mondo, a cura di Francesco Prontera. Florence: Leo S. Olschki 2003, pp. 43-52.
The Tabula Peutingeriana has been studied primarily as an image of the Roman Empire and, in particular, of its network of roads; the identification of place names and of the itineraries represented there have been the object of innumerable studies. Yet one all too often forgets that it was also a document of the Middle Ages and Renaissance that can be examined as such from the perspective of cultural history. Although it may be difficult to evaluate its significance with precision, the Tabula certainly influenced several works of descriptive geography produced during the Middle Ages, and it is really thanks to a medieval copy that we are familiar with it. From the time of its discovery by Konrad Celtes, and despite his own desire to make it rapidly available to the public, it was used by German humanists only in a sporadic and limited way until the edition of M. Welser, which appeared in 1598. It has not been noted, however, that even before Celtes’ discovery, there was already an exemplar of the Tabula that was known from a direct witness and from a partial copy. The history of the Tabula’s reception is therefore much more complex than has been thought and often far from the ingenious reconstructions formulated starting in the XVIIIth century on the basis of what were, for the most part, unfounded hypotheses.