6 Utopia and prophecy

Utopias are descriptions of ideal societies, based on Utopia by Thomas More (1478-1535) from 1516. In this book More takes issue with the difference between rich and poor: why do wealthy goldsmiths and usurers indulge in luxuries, while even pack animals are better off than workers, drivers, smiths, carpenters, and ploughmen? The illustration by Ambrose Holbein (c 1494-1519), Hans Holbein’s older brother, is symbolic: the legendary last king of Rome is purchasing the prophetic books by the Cumaen Sibyl.

De optimo reip[ublicae] statu deque nova insula Utopia ...

De optimo reip[ublicae] statu deque nova insula utopia libellus vere aureus
Thomas More
Basle: Joannes Frobenius, 1518
Book, third ed, incompl, 17 x 22



Antiquarian acquisition

This book was purchased by Tristan Haan, curator of the Institute's Utopian collection.


This is the edition supervised by Beatus Rhenanus and Erasmus and published in Basel by Erasmus's printer, Johann Froben. It has been often reprinted and many translations are based on this version.