Friedrich Riederer's work is a landmark in the domain of rhetoric. Through an elaborate system of Latin marginal annotations, he provides a link between German rhetoric and conventional scholarly discourse on elocution in order to adapt and promote the vernacular as a language fit for oration. The text contains parts of Cicero's De inventione, as well as others, and provides a number of models for legal contracts and epistles.
The book begins with a xylographic title, representing a young lady holding a little carnation in her right hand while supporting a coat-of-arms with three stars – the armorial device of the author and printer Riederer – which is repeated on the final leaf. There is some scholarly debate around some of the woodcuts, whose proximity to the style of Martin Schongauer and Albrecht Dürer have raised the question of whether some designs were not completed by Dürer himself, but this remains contentious. Another illustration, the Icarus plunging into the sea, is particularly interesting because it is regarded as the first printed representation of a flying human. It accompanies Riederer's advice for using words considerately, likening this practice to Daedalus who avoided flying too high or too low.
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