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By Stephanie Leitch (auth.)
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Extra info for Mapping Ethnography in Early Modern Germany: New Worlds in Print Culture
The textual basis of the “truth” is industriously at work in the Nuremberg Chronicle, as it was in the preceding cosmographical literature. 27 As Schedel’s example proves, their texts were full of amendments to the received wisdom. Ptolemy was one such author whose name itself became a site of contested authority. Unlike medieval mappaemundi in which the outer sea defined a finite landmass, parts of Ptolemy’s oikoumene, notably Africa, extended beyond the limits of contemporary knowledge. Some maps in later Ptolemies marked territories extending beyond the map’s surface with terra incognita secundum Ptholomeum.
In the same way that God’s hand appears as the prime mover of the first spheres of matter in the Chronicle’s opening pages, the gods of the Greek pantheon headline the narrative of the foibles that began the Trojan War. Then follows a panorama of Troy, not a unique one, for the same woodcut also does duty for Paris and Magdeburg. Even before we see the view repeated, we suspect that it does not represent the report of a traveler who stood before it with claims to having observed it first hand. Troy earned its renown as an historical site, one whose representation was generated by the facts provided by the poet who first sang of it.
I will argue that this practice of self-examination ultimately made German humanists and artists sympathetic investigators of other foreign primitives, especially the inhabitants of the New World. As the image of the New World Indian assumed center stage in the competition for the wild man’s costume, the Germans, who were just getting used to seeing their ancestors as wild men, ultimately found themselves having to take a new, and more careful look at foreign natives. The Folkloric Wild Man The wild man was a conceptual entity that thrived during the medieval period in the German-speaking territories.