Belgian cartographic printer and engraver Gèrard de Jode (1509-1591) produced the emblem book Microcosmos: Parvus Mundus in 1579 and it was published in latin. It appears that the symbolic illustrations and accompanying text outline moral truths by the combination of biblical quotes/scenarios with aspects of the lives of the ancients such as Plato and Socrates and mythical personas like Hercules. That's my take anyway. The original illustrations are those toward the bottom here.
I came to this fascinating collection of emblems by way of an Illinois University database which hosts a 1670 'copy' of Microcosmos. I liked the engravings and as I started to search for some more information about the stated author, Martin Meyer, I came across the original version at the University of Mannheim.
I put 'copy' in quotes for 2 reasons. Firstly, the later version has been expanded as far as I can tell and those emblems that have similarities (sometimes very very similar) are in actual fact reversed, as you see above with the repeated 'Sphinx' from each book. Both sites have digitized images and they each appear to have the indicative markings of engraving plates so I'm not sure how the mirror effect has been transposed. Somewhere along the line in the copying process no doubt. Anyway, I thought I'd post a few from each as they both have their own merits. The later version has both latin and german text accompanying the emblems. [The image URLs give a hint as to the emblem title - sorry, I got sidetracked etc etc]
- University of Mannheim Microcosmos - Gèrard de Jode 1579. [translation]
- University of Illinois Microcosmos - Martin Meyer 1670.
- And of course the always observant misteraitch has plowed this field previously I now see.
- A very short biography of de Jode.
- The cartographic perspective.