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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

Alison Stones

Legends and myths in medieval art are often symbolic rather than narrative, appearing as isolated representations on monuments and portable objects and following the tradition of Greek vase painting where individual subjects are depicted and rely on prior knowledge of the stories for recognition and understanding. World histories celebrated great heroes of the past, starting with Creation and biblical history, then the ancient and medieval world with the exploits of the Trojan heroes, Alexander the Great, King Arthur and the campaigns of Charlemagne and his nephew Roland. Northern gods such as Thor were depicted in cult statues (c. 1000; Reykjavík, N. Mus.) or through such ornamental hammers as those from north Jutland in the Copenhagen Nationalmuseum, and Freya, head of the Valkyries, was painted riding a cat on the walls of Schleswig Cathedral.

The Fall of Troy is most celebrated in the early 13th-century copy of Heinrich von Veldecke’s ...

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 ...