Cookies Policy

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

I accept this policy

Find out more here

Mysteries in Muscovite Political Theology

No metrics data to plot.
The attempt to load metrics for this article has failed.
The attempt to plot a graph for these metrics has failed.
The full text of this article is not currently available.

Brill’s MyBook program is exclusively available on BrillOnline Books and Journals. Students and scholars affiliated with an institution that has purchased a Brill E-Book on the BrillOnline platform automatically have access to the MyBook option for the title(s) acquired by the Library. Brill MyBook is a print-on-demand paperback copy which is sold at a favorably uniform low price.

Access this article

+ Tax (if applicable)
Add to Favorites
You must be logged in to use this functionality

Rabbits, Snakes and Lions in the Kremlin Golden Palace Throne Room Frescos

image of Russian History

Under the Metropolitan Macarius, a fresco program was produced in the Kremlin Golden Palace throne room and vestibule to express a rulership ideology appropriate for Ivan IV’s recent elevation from Grand Prince to Tsar. The images in the dome, based on a symbolic paradigm of “Wisdom’s house” from Proverbs (9: 1–5), show many innovative features. Most mysterious of all is a sun whose rays are the bodies of serpents, with the heads of serpents, lions and an eagle, above a rabbit fleeing from the devil. This study analyzes the origin, meaning and function of these heretofore undeciphered animal images. It shows that they are esoteric symbols of the Wisdom of the Cross which act as controlling metaphors for the whole program, including the Old Testament prototypes for present day Muscovy. They are directed at the sovereign as a mystical initiate who makes present the renewing power of the world’s beginning and end; they express the ruler’s Christ-like sovereignty and messianic calling to use the church and his army to liberate the peoples from sin, death and enslavement to the Devil or to the Devil’s earthly substitutes. Their symbolism transforms the traditional ecclesiastical model of “Wisdom’s house” into a vehicle of political theology.

Affiliations: 1: Research Associate of the Five Colleges at the University of Massachussetts and of the Davis Center of Harvard University,


Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

Article metrics loading...



Can't access your account?
  • Tools

  • Add to Favorites
  • Printable version
  • Email this page
  • Subscribe to ToC alert
  • Get permissions
  • Recommend to your library

    You must fill out fields marked with: *

    Librarian details
    Your details
    Why are you recommending this title?
    Select reason:
    Russian History — Recommend this title to your library
  • Export citations
  • Key

  • Full access
  • Open Access
  • Partial/No accessInformation