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In 1550 the book “Kurtzweil” by Jörg Wickram was published in Strasbourg [1]. His name was also spelled as Georg Wickram and he was a German poet and novelist, born ca. 1505, who died before 1862 [2].

One of the poems is the following part on the page:

Wickram1550_[257]_

[Der Mannen Circkel]

[…]
Derhalb sie dirwol dienen soll / ja hinderlich du merckst mich wol./
All dein anschleg on hindernüss / dir grathen werden bis gewiss /
Vorab so du sie macht beim wein/ doch fressen dir sie offt die schwein./
Dir traumt kurtzlich in woller weis/ wie du werelt in dem paradeis/
Das würst du leben sonder schaden/ doch mein ich da die genss inn baden./
Ich far daher binn gütter ding/ dann ich fürwar güt bottschafft bring/
Deshalb gib mir das botten brot/ dein bandel aus der mas wol stabt./
Dann Unglück mag dich nie errennen// Wie ich dann dies will ernennen./
[…]

This text is accompanied by a figure of a capricorn with reins, riding a snail on top of its shell, a rod on his shoulder with a figure of -what seems to me- a dog.

Wickram1550_[257]_d

In the Jenaische Allgemeine Literatur-Zeitung 110: 273 (1810)[3] I found the following text, which might serve as (part of the) explanation:

Wickram1550_note3

It suggests that the key to this story is in the introduction. The number (iiii) on the page previous to the figure of the capricorn can be found under the heading “Der Mannen Circkel” [4] sub D, which reads “Biss fröhlich darzü gütter ding/ ein gütte bottschaft ich dir bring/ Ich bin schnell geritten manchen tag/ da ich dir bald mein meinung sag. / Süch den hasen auf den schnecken reitten”. Supposedly the answer from the Oracle…, which at least suggests the capricorn to be a hybrid with a hare [5].

Wickram1550_text2

It leaves me nonetheless somewhat puzzled; anyone with a background in literature research who can give an informed suggestion?

The snail has a many-whorled, dextral shell; the animal has an eye and two tentacles shown. It may have been inspired by a Helix-like species.
Given the fact that it is a wood engraving, and mirror images were usually common during those days, the correct chirality of the shell is noteworthy.

Notes:
[1] http://www.europeana.eu/portal/record/03486/BibliographicResource_1000128566547.html, permalink http://nbn-resolving.de/urn%3Anbn%3Ade%3Abvb%3A12-bsb00027253-2.
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georg_Wickram; http://www.joerg-wickram.de/.
[3] http://to.ly/FhzA.
[4] http://to.ly/FhRM.
[5] Cf. also post #46, last figure.

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