Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote: ↑
09 Apr 2020, 15:38
Phaeded wrote: ↑
08 Apr 2020, 22:23
Still, why is Saturn a green dragon in the Semideus
And I still find it interesting Virgil relocates Saturn to Italy and a golden age there (there is no precedent). ...
Again, the green dragon and golden age versus Eden....how does that all tie together in the genealogy?
[image of Saturn as a dragon at bottom of genealogy]
... he places Saturn's golden age roughly 140 years before the Trojan War
(as an aside, is it just me, or are the Visconti strange to derive themselves from symbols which so clearly allude to the serpent, the pagan gods, et
c? I know everybody wanted to come from Troy, but the French royalty, and the Este, did not use these dark symbols)
I was reading through what was scanned of a study on the Third Vatican Mythographer, who was widely popular for the reception of the pagan gods in the late Middle Ages (e.g., Petrarch used it to inform his own cataloging of the gods' appearances), and it in turn was largely based on Fulgentius, Isidore, Virgil by way of Servius, Macrobius, and Capella. Regarding the Aeneid
and the founder of the Visconti line:
Thus we read in the Fifth Book of the Aeneid about a snake bursting forth from the tomb of Anchises: ‘uncertain whether it is the guiding spirit of the place.’ Indeed, what is added, ‘or the attendant spirit of the father,’ seems to be drawn from ancient custom. For it was the way of our ancestors that, whenever kings died, their beloved horses or slaves and the dearer one of their wives were burned up with them, and among the these wives there was great contention over this. Thus we can accept that an attendant slave was buried with Anchises, or the poet showed that he was made a god through apotheosis. (Third Vatican Mythographer, 19; tr. in Ronald E. Pepin, The Vatican Mythographers, 2008: 248)
Reproduced in Seznec and many times thereafter, but consider the illustration of Apollo of a Vat. III-inspired work also held in the Vatican, Reg. Lat 1290 (the images of the gods in all their sepia glory here: https://digi.vatlib.it/view/MSS_Reg.lat.1290
). This is pathetically understudied - all I can find is "upper northern Italy" and c.1420 - so a good chance Marziano's gods would have resembled this style (you'll get a kick out of Vesta, top of 5r).
Note Python's curly-cued tail forming a circle on the left, like the Visconti serpent, which is also on the three-headed version below Apollo (its feint, just on the back of the muse closest to the viewer's perspective). And then one might think of the slain Python as incorporated into Macrobius's three-headed serpent monster underneath Apollo. Also derived from the Vat-III mythography is the the three-headed animal Apollo sits upon - Serapis, equated with the sun in Macrobius's Saturnalia, which had the extra lustre of containing Cicero's Dream of Scipio
. Boccaccio is not very explicit, but merely cites Macrobius's Saturnalia
and says Apis/Serapis "seems to be thought of as the sun (Gen. II.4.7), sending anyone else with with piqued interest after Macrobius. Serapis/Sarapis in Macrobius:
"In the city on the borders of Egypt which boasts Alexander of Macedon as its founder, Sarapis and Isis are worshiped with a reverence that is almost fanatical. Evidence that the sun, under the name of Sarapis, is the object of all this reverence is either the basket set on the head of the god or the figure of a three-headed creature placed by his statue. The middle head of this figure, which is also the largest, represents a lion's; on the right a dog raises its head with a gentle and fawning air; and on the left the neck ends in the head of a ravening wolf. All three beasts are joined together by the coils of a serpent whose head returns to the god's right hand which keeps the monster in check." Macrobius, Saturnalia (I.20.13)
He goes on to associate each animal with the past, present and future (famously applied as an interpretation of Titian's "Allegory of Prudence"). But to a medieval mindset, Macrobius is also describing time - and hence Saturn. Can that image be constructed as Apollo's dominance over time? Given the Visconti strong attachment to Apollo via the radiant sun impresa
, did they not also view their biscione
stemma, not just from the dumb Saracen story (which only explains the man in the mouth) but as related to Apollo?
Those suspicions get a bit of confirmation here in this discussion of the medieval understanding of Apolllo:
Even Apollo’s defeat of the Python is not clear-cut an image of wisdom triumphing over error as it may first appear., as Bersuire’s compression of the myth [Ovidius Moralizatus], considered earlier, to align Apollo with the serpent/devil suggested. One explanation offered in Macrobius’s Saturnalia for Apollo’s epithet ‘Pythian,’ for example, is that the sun’s own motion at times appears serpentine; the myth of the python’s slaying thus arose to express the annual end of Apollo’s course through the sky….Macrobius also refers Apollo’s serpentine path to his epithet Loxias – in Latin obliquus, or winding, a term applied to Apollo’s obscure and circumlocutionary oracular speech in De nuptiis and routinely glossed by medieval commentators. Others claim that Apollo at Delo appeared to his worshipers as a serpent. Similarly, Isidore remarks that Apollo’s epithet ‘Pythius,’ and the Pythian games he institutes, commemorate not only the god’s triumph over the serpent but his appropriation of its identity since the name Python was among the ‘spolia’ (booty) taken by Apollo (Jamie Claire Fumo, The Legacy of Apollo: Antiquity, Authority and Chaucerian Poetics, 2010: 121)
Taking us back to the ethnogenic's project's origins in France, the same scholar:
The most seminal literary identification of Apollo with idolatry, however, was dound not in a saint’s life but a ‘history’: Guido delle Colonne's Historia destructionis Troiae (1287)…..Much of Guido’s material in this section is drawn from book 8, chapter 11 of Isidore of Seville’s Etymologiae, which features a detailed catalogue of the major and minor pagan gods in the context of euhemerism and idolatry. Isidore’s list, arranged to ‘reflect the celestial hierarchy’ as astrologically and genealogically ordained, begins with Saturn an treats Apollo roughly halfway through. In contract, Guido’s handling of the archival material that he brings to bear on the Troy story revises Isidore’s precedent to draw attention to the mythography of Apollo as springboard for a reflection on idolatry itself in all of its cosmic scope. In Guido’s temple scene, the pagan pantheon becomes, in essence, a function of Apollo, whose historical position in Guido’s narrative eclipses Saturn’s pride of place at the head of the catalogue of Olympians. In the Historia, Apollo has theoretical, if not genealogical, authority (ibid, 113).
Keep in mind that in Virgil's Fourth Eclogue, in the return of the Golden Age of Saturn, it is Apollo who reigns:
The great cycle of periods is born anew.
Now returns the Maid, returns the reign of Saturn:
Now from high heaven a new generation comes down.
Yet do thou at that boy's birth,
In whom the iron race shall begin to cease,
And the golden to arise over all the world,
Holy Lucina, be gracious; now thine own Apollo reigns.
I really think we need to start understanding the Visconti biscione
as specifically designed as "serpentine" to reflect the above lore, and that it was tied to the radiant sun impresa
as part of Apollo's identity. And to note this again, the tutelary god of Troy (thus Aeneas) is none other than Apollo.