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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

Charles Buchanan

Type of large-format Bible, usually found in pandect (single-volume) form, produced in central Italy and Tuscany from around 1060 to the middle of the 12th century. They came out of the efforts of a reformist papacy intent on wresting control over ecclesiastical investiture from the Holy Roman Emperor. The Giant Bibles were produced in reformed canonries and monasteries and then exported to the same, not only in Italy but throughout Europe.

The term ‘Atlantic’ (from the mythological giant Atlas) is derived from their impressive size; dimensions range from 550 to 600 mms by 300 to 400 mms. Their script, derived from Caroline minuscule, is placed in two columns of around fifty-five lines. The texts are decorated with two initial types, which Edward B. Garrison designated as ‘geometrical’ and ‘full shaft’, both of which are derived from Carolingian and Ottonian exemplars, respectively. The iconography consists of full-length prophets, patriarchs, kings and saints as well as narrative scenes. The last are at times found as full-page cyclical illuminations and preface important textual divisions, especially Genesis. The iconography of the Giant Bibles is a specific Roman iconographical recension with its sources based in part on Early Christian pictorial cycles, such as the wall paintings of Old St Peter’s in Rome. These came from an era considered by the reformers to have been uncorrupted by the abuses that afflicted the Church when these Bibles were being made. While the Giant Bibles were promulgated by the Church of Rome as a symbol of its supreme authority, they also allowed the clergy to perform the liturgy, and the Divine Office in particular, properly....

Article

Kirk Ambrose

(b Moscow, May 7, 1903; d Paris, Jan 25, 1988).

Lithuanian art historian, scholar of folklore and Egyptology, and diplomat of Russian birth. Son of the celebrated Lithuanian Symbolist poet of the same name, Jurgis Baltrušaitis II studied under Henri(-Joseph) Focillon at the Sorbonne and earned the PhD in 1931. The concerns of his mentor are evident in La stylistique ornementale dans la sculpture romane (1931), which reprises and extends arguments for the ‘law of the frame’ in Romanesque sculpture. Accordingly, the shapes of architectural members, such as capitals and tympana, determined the articulation of sculptural forms. This theory could account for the genesis of a wide array of monumental carvings, from foliate capitals to narrative reliefs, but ultimately it had a rather limited impact on the field of Romanesque sculptural studies. In a scathing critique, Schapiro argued that Baltrušaitis’s book—and by implication Focillon’s methods—robbed Romanesque sculptors of agency and neglected the religious and expressive meanings of this art form....

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 ...