Dialogus creaturarum (more properly Dialogus creaturarum optime moralizatus or Dyalogus creaturarum moralizatus), is a collection of 122 Latin-language fables and, as the title implies, dialogues of creatures. It was the first book ever printed in Sweden (1483).
The fables are organised in sections according to the different kinds of protagonists: first the astronomical, then the elements, followed by living things. The fables tell of the interactions of various anthropomorphized animals and ends with a moral explanation. Common human problems are solved according to the teachings of the Bible, church fathers or classical Greek or Roman philosophy. The author is unknown, but surviving manuscripts suggest the fables may have been gathered and edited by either Mayno de Mayneri (Magninus Mediolanensis) or Nicolaus Pergamenus, both active in the 14th century. A number of the fables are from Aesop, such as The Lion's Share, The Frog and the Ox and The Wolf and the Lamb.
The book was first published in 1480 by Gerard Leeu at Gouda, and several times reprinted by him. Each tale was illustrated by a woodcut. A second edition followed in 1481. He printed at least three more Latin editions, one more at Gouda in 1482 and two at Antwerp in 1486 and 1491. He also published two editions in Dutch in 1481 and 1482 and one in French in 1482.
The popularity of the work is clear from the number of editions published. Other printers soon published Latin texts: Conrad Winters de Homborch in 1481 at Cologne, Jean Bellot in 1500 at Geneva, Claude Nourry in 1509 at Lyon and Pigouchet in 1510 at Paris.
It was the first book printed in Sweden. It was printed on Riddarholmen island in Stockholm on December 20, 1483 by Johann Snell, an immigrant from Rostock. Five copies from the original run survive today. At the book’s 500th anniversary in 1983, Bra Böcker, a Swedish publishing house, produced a facsimile edition with added translation and commentary.
The first English translation, The Dialoges of Creatures Moralysed, was published around 1530.
- Mann, Jill (2009). From Aesop to Reynard : beast literature in medieval Britain ([Online-Ausg.] ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0199217687.
- Kratzmann, edited by Gregory; Gee, Elizabeth (1988). The dialoges of creatures moralysed : a critical edition (A crit. ed. / ed. by Gregory Kratzmann ... ed.). Leiden: E.J. Brill. ISBN 978-9004085152.
- Hobbs, Anne Stevenson (1986). Fables. London: Victoria and Albert Museum. p. 39. ISBN 978-0948107122.
- Apolologi Creaturarum sold by auction house
- Wood Engraving: Its History and Practise, originally printed in the Illustrated London News in 1844.
- Dyalogus Creaturarum - Johann Snell – excerpts from English translation with original illustrations.