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Medieval Sources Of Renaissance Animal Symbolism

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores the following questions: When did animals first appear in the context of Christian literary and artistic symbolism? How were they interpreted in theological or moralistic allegories? Was there a continuous tradition that linked the early sources to Renaissance manifestations of disguised animal symbolism? The chapter commences by examining a case of the symbolic lion in the Renaissance. It discusses the dissemination of moralized animal symbolism throughout the Christian world. The Physiologus and bestiary tradition, which exerted the greatest influence on the development of animal symbolism in western culture, was basically a medieval phenomenon. Despite the realistic portrayal with its contemporary overtones, however, the procession of deadly sins is still portrayed in the traditional Saligia sequence, conveying the classic lessons of the bestiary, promoting the human-beast analogy, and retaining the moralistic context with its late medieval penitential and didactic implications.

Keywords: artistic symbolism; bestiary tradition; Christian literary; human-beast analogy; moralized animal symbolism; Physiologus tradition; Renaissance animal symbolism



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