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Article

Dorothy Verkerk

Illuminated manuscript of the first five books of the Old Testament (now incomplete), dating from the late 6th or early 7th century (Paris, Bib.N., MS. nouv. acq. lat. 2334) and named after the English collector Bertram Ashburnham. Also known as the Pentateuch of Tours, the Ashburnham Pentateuch is one of the oldest surviving pre-Carolingian Vulgate manuscripts of the Old Testament. In its present condition, it lacks the last verses of Numbers and all of Deuteronomy; while 18 pages of illustration and 1 frontispiece survive from the original 65 pages with illustrations. The illustrated pages comprise several scenes generally arranged in two or three bands, although some pages have one or two large scenes, others combine illustration and text. Painted tituli that follow the Vulgate accompany the miniatures; however, beneath the painted titutli are preliminary inscriptions penned in ink that follow the Vetus latina text.

Based upon stylistic, iconographical and codicological evidence, the Pentateuch appears to have been made in a late 6th- to early 7th-century Italian scriptorium. Twelve pages were added in the 8th century by scribes from Fleury; an additional restored page (fol. 33) was added in the 7th century by a Touronian scribe. The illustrations often deviate from the exact retelling of the biblical text. The column of smoke and fire, for example, in the story of the Crossing of the Red Sea is depicted as a large candle held in two hands, a reference to Easter Vigil liturgical ceremonies (fol. 68...

Article

Sophie Page

Astrology is the art of predicting events on earth as well as human character and disposition from the movements of the planets and fixed stars. Medieval astrology encompassed both general concepts of celestial influence, and the technical art of making predictions with horoscopes, symbolic maps of the heavens at particular moments and places constructed from astronomical information. The scientific foundations of the art were developed in ancient Greece, largely lost in early medieval Europe and recovered by the Latin West from Arabic sources in the 12th and 13th centuries. Late medieval astrological images were successfully Christianized and were adapted to particular contexts, acquired local meanings and changed over time.

Astrology developed into a scientific branch of learning in ancient Greece, but because of the opposition of the Church Fathers it was transmitted to early medieval Europe in only fragmentary form in technically unsophisticated textbooks and popular divinatory genres. Literary and scientific texts provided more general ideas about the nature and attributes of the planets which were influential on later iconography. The first significant astrological images appear in 11th-century illustrated astronomical texts (e.g. London, BL, Cotton MS. Tiberius BV), which were acquired and produced by monasteries to aid with time-keeping and the construction of the Christian calendar....

Article

In the 20th century, discussion of the relationship between Byzantine art and the art of the Latin West evolved in tandem with scholarship on Byzantine art itself. Identified as the religious imagery and visual and material culture of the Greek Orthodox Empire based at Constantinople between ad 330 and 1453, studies of Byzantine art often encompassed Post-Byzantine art and that of culturally allied states such as Armenian Cilicia, Macedonia, and portions of Italy. As such fields as Palaiologan family manuscripts and wall paintings, Armenian manuscripts, and Crusader manuscripts and icons emerged, scholars identified new intersections between Western medieval and Byzantine art. Subtle comparisons emerged with the recognition that Byzantine art was not static but changed over time in style and meaning, although most analyses identified Byzantine art as an accessible reservoir of the naturalistic, classicizing styles of antiquity. Scholars considering the 7th-century frescoes at S Maria Antiqua and mosaics at S Maria in Cosmedin, both in Rome, and the 8th-century frescoes at Castelseprio and Carolingian manuscripts such as the Coronation Gospels of Charlemagne (Vienna, Schatzkam. SCHK XIII) used formal comparisons with works such as pre-iconoclastic icons at St Catherine’s Monastery on Sinai, along with the history of Byzantine iconoclasm, to argue for the presence of Greek painters in the West. Similarly, Ottonian and Romanesque painting and luxury arts, such as ivories, provided examples of the appropriation of Byzantine imperial imagery. Yet the study of works such as the great 12th-century ...

Article

John Lowden

Byzantine illuminated manuscript (London, BL, Cotton MS. Otho B. VI), probably of the late 5th century ad. It consists of the fragments of 129 folios, shrunken and charred by a fire in 1731, which are all that remain of one of the most profusely illustrated and magnificent books of the period. The manuscript has long been the focus of scholarly attention, and work on a facsimile was begun in 1621–2 by Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc, although it probably did not advance far.

All discussion of the Cotton Genesis starts from the ingenious reconstruction by Weitzmann and Kessler, according to whom the manuscript originally comprised some 221 folios (c. 330×250 mm) and contained the text of Genesis, illustrated by some 339 illuminations distributed throughout the book, most half-page or larger (including perhaps 36 full-page). These adopted a literal approach to the text, but some contained extra-biblical details derived from written commentaries (Christian or Jewish) or possibly from more informal, oral traditions. They were framed scenes with fully painted illusionistic settings, and they used a full range of pigments, including gold leaf for some details. Although Weitzmann and Kessler argued for an origin in Egypt, the evidence for this has been questioned by Wenzel....

Article

Gail L. Hoffman

(fl c. 2nd half of 2nd century ad).

Greek traveller, writer and geographer. Possibly born in Lydia, he is known for his Guide to Greece in ten books, which contains detailed descriptions of monuments and the works of specific artists, as well as substantial information about Greek mythology and history.

Information concerning Pausanias’ own life is deduced from references in the Guide to Greece, where he repeatedly referred to the area around Magnesia-ad-Sipylum (I.xxiv.8; V.xiii.7; IX.xxii.4 etc.). This is, therefore, where he was probably brought up, while his assertion (VIII.ix.7) that he had not himself seen Hadrian’s favourite, Antinous (d ad 130–31), though this would evidently have been possible, suggests that Pausanias was born c. ad 115. The earliest events that he specifically stated to have occurred during his own lifetime were the construction of a shrine and temple of Asklepios at Smyrna (II.xxvi.9; VII.v.9) and the Odeion of Herodes Atticus in Athens (VII.xx.6), all of which date from the 150s and 160s ...

Article

Debra Higgs Strickland

Early Christian allegorical and moralizing text about animals originally composed in Greek by an unknown author, probably during the 2nd century ad in Alexandria. The precise meaning of the name, Physiologus, is unclear, but it has been translated as ‘The Naturalist’ or ‘Natural Philosopher’. The text’s narrator discourses on the natural world, combining ancient animal myth and lore with biblical references in order to draw allegorical parallels between animal and human behaviour with references to Christ, the Devil and the Jews. For example, the hoopoe chicks’ diligent and loving care of their ageing parents is held up as an admirable example of obeying God’s commandment to ‘honour thy father and mother’. The panther, whose sweet breath attracts all animals except the dragon, is likened to the sweetness of Christ, which attracts everyone but the Devil. The unclean hyena, known to change its sex from male to female and back again, is compared to ‘the duplicitous Jews, who first worshiped the true God but were later given over to idolatry’. As testimony to its wide popularity, the Greek ...

Article

Terence  

Elizabeth Sears

[Publius Terentius Afer]

(b Carthage, c. 190 bc; d ?Greece, 159 bc).

Roman writer. His six comedies, composed between 166 bc and 160 bc for performance before a Roman public, were admired for the purity and elegance of their Latin and became school texts, destined to be read and studied, quoted and imitated long after they had ceased to be performed. Over 700 manuscripts (5th–15th centuries ad) and a large number of printed editions attest to the plays’ enduring popularity. The medieval and Renaissance manuscripts belong to the ‘Calliopian’ recension of the text (named after the Late Antique redactor Calliopius, of whom nothing further is known) and are divided into the gamma and delta branches. At an early date—probably in Late Antiquity, if not before—the plays were illustrated: frontispieces were created and unframed images of masked, costumed, gesturing actors were inserted at the scene divisions. These pictorial cycles accompany texts of the gamma branch only, although it is not necessarily the case that the cycle was created for this recension (Grant). Extant illustrated copies of the plays, descendants of a posited Late Antique archetype, fall into three principal groups: 12 manuscripts and a fragment dating from the 9th to 12th centuries; a small number of luxury manuscripts produced in French court circles in the early 15th century; and numerous series of woodcuts prepared for printed editions of the plays in the late 15th and 16th centuries....

Article

Eugene Dwyer, Peter Kidson and Pier Nicola Pagliara

(fl later 1st century bc). Roman architect, engineer and writer, renowned for his treatise in ten books, On Architecture (Lat. De architectura), the only text on architectural theory and practice to have survived from Classical antiquity.

Eugene Dwyer

Vitruvius is known in the earliest manuscripts of On Architecture only by this name, a nomen gentilicium or clan name. By his own testimony (I. Preface), he was already an older man at the time he dedicated his treatise to the Emperor Augustus (?27 or 14 bc). He had earlier served Augustus’ adoptive father, Julius Caesar, as a siege engineer, and at some time after Caesar’s death (44 bc) he entered the service of Octavian (after 27 bc called Augustus). He enjoyed Octavian’s continued patronage on the recommendation of the latter’s sister, Octavia, a fact that suggests a period of service under her second husband, the triumvir ...