||The emblem did not exist as a genre when Alciato sent a collection of Latin epigrams to fellow humanist Conrad Peutinger under
the title Emblematum liber (Book of Emblems). In recent decades scholars have advanced various theories as to what Alciato
meant by this use of the term emblema, but none sufficiently accounts for the diverse range of subjects treated in the collection:
not just works of fine art and figures from ancient history and literature, but such inconsequentialities as the nicknames
students give to their professors. I argue that Alciato conceived emblema, by analogy to the adage, as a term for commonplace
visual motifs. His project is best understood in relation to Erasmus' in the Adagiorum chiliades: a cultural storehouse making
available the rhetorical practices of both the present day and antiquity.