Submissions for KZoo 2010

This post contains the numerous strong submissions for our sessions at Kalamazoo, 2010. We have an embarassment of riches, and will have to make some hard choices.

Between the Monstrous, the Marvelous and the Miraculous:
Boundary Blurring in BL Harley 3244

Diane Heath

This proposed paper discusses two full-page miniatures and a central tabular design on what were originally the opening folios in 13th C penitentiary, BL Harley 3244 (f.27r-28v). These miniatures exhibit a wealth of monsters; from the first image of a Dominican receiving a scroll from a levitating, bubble-headed Christ, via the central battle between the monstrous seven deadly sins with their insectoid vices against the armoured, anonymous mounted knight, to the final six-winged cherub defeating the seven-headed dragon of sin. How might we interpret these illustrations as blurring boundaries between the Godly and not-Godly, sacred and profane, monstrous and divine?

While these miniatures may be interpreted independently of each other, they may also be read as a sequence. This narration is key to understanding their intertwined, monstrous mark-stepping, describing a metamorphosis from human to angelic via destruction of sinfulness, shown as contorted and bestial monstrosity. By depicting these sins as hybrids with caricatured Jewish heads, we find further monstrosity in terms of modern perceptions of antisemitism. Conversely, the moralized knight and the tattooed, six-winged cherub initially seem to establish rather than ambiguate their categories. Yet their sacred mission to overcome temptation is problematized by the secularity of the knight, whose weapons and accoutrements are then labelled as spiritual metaphors e.g. ‘the lance of perseverance’. Such monstrous martial imagery infuses this possibly early septenary for penitential meditation, indicating initiation anxieties over masculine power and celibacy.

Violent metamorphosis from sinful subhuman to beyond human is as relevant to the modern as it was to the medieval reader. Medieval monsters are often viewed as liminal and haunting but these spring centre-page as terrifying aspects of human failings and yearnings. Examining the interweaving of the monstrous, marvelous and miraculous Other in BL Harley 3244 allows a nuanced interpretation of its richly symbolic, boundary-blurring hermeneutics.

Brian McFadden
English Department
Texas Tech University

Miraculum, Mirabilis, Wundor, Tacen:
How Did the Anglo-Saxons Categorize Miracles and Marvels?

In this paper I will argue that the lexical line between marvels and miracles in early Christian Latin literature was porous, but Anglo-Saxon writers used multiple words to indicate shades of meaning rather than one potentially ambiguous word when discussing miracles and marvels. In early Christian Latin texts, mirabilia (wonders) could be used of both naturally- and supernaturally-driven phenomena, and while miracula were frequently acts of God, there are many instances where Latin writers called natural wonders miracula as well. However, there appears to have been a conceptual if not lexical distinction between natural and supernatural wonders; miracles are signs of divine power, indicators of divine will, or divine recognition of human virtue, and terms such as vis, virtus, index, potestas, or signum (strength, virtue, pointer, power, sign) were used to indicate the supernatural origin of an event, and they suggest a significance for the unusual event which must be derived from the context in which it occurs. If God is the author of natural law, however, all creation is potentially significant, even if the significance is not apparent; monstra, prodigia, portenta (monsters, prodigies, portents), and similar terms for wonders derive from verbs that imply extraordinary significance (monstrare, prodigere, portendere). However, without a specific context for interpreting them, the perceiver is left with a sense of anxiety over the encounter rather than a sense of the divine will. Anglo-Saxon writers, when discussing natural wonders, tend to use wundor or the verb wundrian on their own, but for miracles tend to use tacen or the verb tacnian in conjunction with wundor to indicate the awe induced by the event or being but to contain the anxiety in the context of divine action. I will conclude with a brief comparison of Bede and the Alfredian translator of the Historia Ecclesiastica with the Latin and Old English versions of Alexander’s Letter to Aristotle to show how Anglo-Saxon translators grapple with the desire to produce intellectual categories for marvels and miracles despite the limits with which their language presents them.


The ‘Sign of Jonah’ and a Ketos Tail Point to the ‘Son of David’ Psalm, Ps. 72

Linda Møskeland Fuchs
Chesterton House, Ithaca, NY

In Matthew 12, Jesus heals a man blind, mute and demon-possessed, provoking the response, ‘Could this be the Son of David?’ Pharisees and scholars request a miraculous sign but Jesus says no sign will be given except the Sign of Jonah: As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea creature, the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth; also, men of Nineveh and the Queen of the South will testify for him in the Day of Judgment.

In the Book of Jonah, God prepares a ‘Great Fish’ (Hebrew dag gadol; Greek κήτος) to seize Jonah. Jonah’s ketos becomes both devourer and vehicle of safe passage. This creature is visualized in third-century Rome as a writhing sea-monster with serpentine body and boar-like head. A Christian twist on the Roman sea-monster appears on the Vatican 31448 ‘Jonah’ sarcophagus: The tail of the ketos becomes a crescent moon pointing to an inhabited sun. Unlike Sol, the man in the sun wears a crown atop his head. A coronation hymn for Solomon, Psalm 72, includes qualities no
human son of David could have: ‘May he endure as long as the sun; as long as the moon through all generations.’ Also, ‘Kings of Tarshish and of distant shores will bring tribute to him; royalty of Sheba and Seba will present him gifts.’ Sun and moon evoke temporal dominion, while Tarshish and Sheba (limits of the trading world) suggest spatial dominion. Geographic motifs parallel to the Jonah story in Psalm 72 (Tarshish) and Matthew12 (Nineveh) are both linked to the Queen of Sheba (‘royalty of Sheba’ / ‘Queen of the South’). In Matthew, this linkage hints of Psalm 72, answering ‘yes’ to the question ‘Could this be the Son of David?’


Ilan Mitchell-Smith
Monster Knights: Chivalric Identity and Monstrosity in Late-Medieval Chivalric Romance

In the romance Sir Gowther, the eponymous protagonist exhibits traditional traits of medieval monstrosity from birth, and the people of his father’s court and lands suffer greatly for it. Academic treatments of this narrative (Such as E.M. Bradstock’s or more recently Jeffrey Jerome Cohen’s) have seen Gowther’s transgression into monstrosity as a polar opposite to heroism or a more viable chivalric identity. This paper nuances these earlier arguments, however, by suggesting that some of the markers of Gowther’s monstrosity are not eradicated as much as they are channeled. Monstrosity in this romance, I argue, is not corrected or rejected, but instead is incorporated and directed according to strict guidelines as well as national and religious concerns (namely against an encroaching Sultan and his army). Certain other romances, such as Libeaus Desconus and Sir Launfal treat monstrous behavior similar ways, in that they criticize monstrous behavior except when performed according to specific guidelines and strictures.

In this paper, I use the example of Sir Gowther to consider this role of monstrosity and to complicate the argument put forward by Michael Camille (in Image on the Edge) that late-medieval monstrosity is often synonymous with peripheral spaces of the non-Christian other. This paper then examines range of other mid- to late-fourteenth century Middle English chivalric romances to explore how monstrous sexual and violent behavior becomes both inherent to, and rejected by, contemporary perceptions of chivalric identity. The result in these romances is a kind of double bind, in which the protagonist is encouraged towards the very behaviors that threaten to dismantle the identity that he is trying to construct. The paper finally examines how certain chivalric narratives of the mid- to late-fourteenth century attempt to solve this double bind by projecting monstrous excess onto clerks and rustics while imagining chivalric identity as an Aristotelian balance that both accepts and rejects opposing kinds of excess.


Jamie Friedman
Kalamazoo 2010

Monster Flesh
This paper will examine the fourteenth century romance, The King of Tars, as a narrative particularly interested in exploring the intersections of self and Other in the intimate spaces of womb, bedroom, and altar. The story recounts the marriage between a Christian maiden and a Muslim sultan that effects an illicit commingling, across racial and religious boundaries, materialized in the birth of a child described as a featureless round of flesh. Elsewhere pictured as an unnatural man/animal or black/white mélange, his is the monstrous body of transgressed limits, boundaries breached, that the story’s goal is to naturalize. I would like to pay attention to this strange flesh ball child as a provocative instance of the materialization of the unexpected Other within. Far from being marginalized, the trajectory of this formless flesh occupies the center of the narrative, as it circulates through the maiden’s body, through the center of the Muslim court, through bedroom and temple, and on into its Christianized future.
This reading proposes to tease out the hermeneutic, corporeal, and identitarian potentialities mobilized in the temporary incarnation of this monstrous flesh. I maintain that the materialization of the flesh child disrupts the essentiality and stability of all racial-religious identities in the narrative – white as well as black, Christian as well as Muslim – providing the moment for the potential construction of either Christian or Saracen, male or female, human or animal selves. Attending to the strange, mobile flesh of the lump child as it circulates through the inner spaces of the narrative ultimately illustrates the identitarian productivity in the touch of monstrous flesh. While that flesh retains, however briefly, its elasticity and illegibility, it calls into question the naturalness of the identities it touches and opens a tantalizing space of corporeal and identitarian permeability and plenitude.


R. Scott Bevill
English Department – MARCO
University of Tennessee – Knoxville

ABSTRACT: But He’s OUR Monster! The Monstrous Hero in Epic and Saga.
Though monstrous entities typically play the antagonistic role of ‘other’ in medieval literature, on occasion, the most monstrous of characters may indeed be the hero of a work. His savagery, supernatural strength or abilities, and often semi-divine origins betray his own otherness. While he works for the tribe or kingdom, defending her from internal and external threats, this awe and fear- inspiring hero is revered and praised for his heroic feats. But in some cases, his otherness is too extreme for polite society.

Grettir seems to be the likeliest candidate for this character type. His otherness is obvious from the beginning, but the townsfolk are willing to tolerate his more frightening aspects as long as he rids them of the draugr that plagues their village. Unfortunately, Grettir suffers a curse during the cleansing of the hall and soon becomes as reviled as the monsters he fights. CuChulainn’s battle rage turns him into an indescribable terror, and he is unpredictably dangerous to both friend and foe during the fury of his torque. Beowulf is just as comfortable ripping off appendages of human foes as he is Grendel, but that is to be expected from a hero whose leige-lord is featured within the Liber Monstrorum. And Bendeigfran of the Mabinogion is so ridiculously huge that the Irish mistake him for a mountain swimming across the sea from Wales.

In this paper, I would like to explore how these ostensible heroes are either able to integrate and
thrive in their societies, or become anathema to the very people they initially protected.
Marla Pagan-Mattos
University of Pennsylvania

“Mary as M/Other: Motherhood and Alterity in the Cantigas de Santa María of Alfonso X”

Much of scholarly production on the medieval representation of the monstruos has identified it as a locus of alterity. The monster has been rightly perceived as a sign of otherness, a so-called “third term” against which cultural categories are constituted. Contrastingly, the construction of female as other and its relation to the cult of the Virgin Mary has been regarded mostly in terms of didactic and exemplary normativization of medieval women. However, there are aspects of the figure of Mary that are excessive, undomesticable, unfixed, and somewhat monstruos. Her position as mediator between heaven and earth, interceding for her devotees in repairing their transgressions in front of Christ, places her almost literally as a third term, analogous to that of the monsters’. That placement is based on a single enigmatic event in her life: her giving birth to the incarnate God. Thus, her becoming a mother constitutes her as an other in relation to both the earthly and the divine. The Cantigas de Santa María of Alfonso X –and its intriguing combination of text, image, and song– in 13th-century Iberia offers several instances where Mary is portrayed as (m)other. The portrayal of motherhood in most of the miracles presents Mary as interceding in highly problematic relations between a mother and her offspring, or a mother and her pregnancy, or where the earthly mothers’ responsibilities cannot be fulfilled. In most of these miracles, Mary is presented as a subtitute mother, one that takes the place of the earthly mother and fulfills her role. She becomes literally an “other’s” mother, although she is another’s mother. In this paper I will analyze the representation of Mary’s motherhood in Cantiga 46, where she is portrayed providing nourishment to another “other,” a converted Moor.

Anne Derbes, Hood College
Amy Neff, University of Tennessee

Monstrous Blood
Satan crystallizes all that is deemed evil. In medieval art, the representation of Lucifer consistently characterizes him as the epitome of sin and monstrosity. In late thirteenth-century Italy, however, Satan’s persona undergoes significant change. Without relinquishing traditional signs of vice, Satan’s image also becomes perversely female and Jewish. One graphic sign of perversity that has not been previously noted is the depiction of Satan’s blood. Our focus is on Italian depictions of the Last Judgment, in which Satan and his minions bleed, sometimes while seemingly “giving birth” to victims, sometimes hemorrhaging from their ears, mouth, and anus. While this demonic shedding of blood is a clear subversion of Christ’s wounding, it also reflects Christian preoccupation with the eucharist and the anti-Jewish propaganda that came in its wake.
Monstrous blood is especially apparent as Satan gives birth. While Christ gives spiritual birth, the feminized body of Satan gives birth in damnation. Satan’s bleeding is not inflicted by others but comes from his own deviant physiology, exposing a shameful female body that inverts gender and the economy of salvation. We contend that stereotyped denigration of women and Jews coalesce in the image of the devil bleeding. Demonic blood issuing from the groin area reflects a virulent myth circulating in late medieval Italy: that Jewish men menstruated, their punishment for spilling the blood of Christ. This type of anti-Jewish imagery goes back at least to the late 11th century but intensified in the thirteenth with the preaching of mendicant friars. Two monuments from northeast Italy, c. 1300, vividly illustrate these concepts. The Supplicationes variae (Florence, Biblioteca Laurenziana, Plut. 25.3), dated 1293, includes perhaps the earliest depiction of Satan giving birth; the characterization of evil as perversely gendered and Jewish becomes even stronger in the Arena Chapel, Padua, painted by Giotto, 1303-1305.

Rosalyn Saunders

Monstrous and Malicious Women: Discovering the Damnable Practises of Three Notorious Witches, Joan, Margaret and Phillip Flower

In Scotland and England during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, a new form of witchcraft developed that defined the witch as increasingly malevolent and diabolical. To date, most analysis of this situation has focused on the deteriorating position of women in contemporary society and their subsequent function as scapegoats for a variety of social ills. These explanations, however, do not entirely account for the creation of the monstrous witch and the particular traits inherent in her deeply unsettling character.

This paper, therefore, will focus on the characterisation of Joan Flower and her daughters in the pamphlet Witchcrafts, Strange and Wonderfull (1635), and suggest that the terrifying natures and behaviours of these three witches were informed and shaped by a continuum of monstrosity that can be traced back to an earlier monster tradition.
Although the diabolical witch had not been seen before the fourteenth century in Europe, early modern demonological writers did not create a wholly new figure; rather, they turned to an earlier tradition that equated those who violated cultural ideologies with moral inferiority, physiognomic deformities and monstrous behaviour. These general principles were overlaid onto women in order to transform them into suitably diabolical witches, a manoeuvre that upholds the importance of gender considerations in witchcraft analysis, but in a way that has been previously overlooked.

Despite their moral and physiognomic deformities, however, Joan, Margaret and Phillip were able to exist within the community as fully functioning members. Their ability to pass as ‘normals’ enabled them to not only infiltrate the community, but also the bodies of their victims: they quite literally get under the skin of their victim in order to cause harm. The pamphlet’s author appropriates elements from the monster tradition and places these uncontrolled, sexually rapacious, vindictive, and murderous witches amidst the community to affect a horrifying transition from ‘out there’ (where monsters are supposed to stay) to ‘right here’ (within the community space). They blur the boundaries between the ‘known’ and the ‘unknown’, and the reaction of society is extreme and violent because these ‘monsters’ are not in the peripheral, but local and, therefore, utterly terrifying.


Kira Robison
University of Minnesota

The Creature Within: Defining the Fiend in Medieval Anatomy

Although medieval monsters were often thought of as mythical and imaginary beasts, they could also be both human and real. This paper will explore the ways that physicians in the late fifteenth century defined monstrosity in a medical sense—as both a physical abnormality and a personality disorder using physiognomic and anatomical manuscripts. Physiognomies were texts that determined personality through particular physical structures, like the face. During the later Middle Ages, physiognomies began to appear as part of anatomical texts, a practice concerned with mapping the “normality” of the physical body, as understood through dissection of the cadaver.
The coupling of these two types of text helped the physician identify monstrousness through investigation of the physical body. They would then use the “normality” of the body, as identified in the anatomical texts, to point out “abnormal” characteristics in the person, such as wickedness, fearfulness, or insanity. Alternatively, perfectly normal-looking humans would be labeled as monsters if it was discovered upon dissection that they bore anatomical abnormalities within them. Thus, the physical body was the bearer of the monster’s mark, either as an external manifestation of an evil personality or an internal deformity.


Absent Monsters or Invisible Others: Iberian Medieval Monsters
Ana Grinberg
Department of Literature, University of California, San Diego

During the Middle Ages and from a geographical perspective, the Iberian Peninsula was the limit to the civilized world, as happens in Dante’s Inferno Canto 26, the Hereford Map, Chaucer’s Man of Law’s Tale, among others. Evidently Iberia is the Southern borderline, the periphery, the outskirts around an ideological and geographical center; and borderlines are the place where we face the monster, the other. As Michael Uebel reminds us, the borderlines are “gaps or middle places symbolizing exchange and encounter.” (Michael Uebel, “Unthinking the Monster: Twelfth-Century Responses to Saracen Alterity.” Monster Theory: Reading Culture. Ed. Jeffrey Jerome Cohen. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1996, 265.) Iberia indeed is a location where hybrid identities flourish, where other races and peoples inhabit: it is what Mary Louise Pratt calls a contact zone, a place of meeting, clashing, and grappling of disparate and asymmetrical cultures. (Mary Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes. London: Routledge, 1992.)
Nevertheless, few medieval narratives have monsters within this location. An example is found in the Sultan of Babylon, where the Sultan Laban has three Saracen giants fighting on his side and his “chief cité” Egremoure is located in Iberian soil (717-719). (“Sultan of Babylon.” Three Middle English Charlemagne Romances: “The Sultan of Babylon,” “The Siege of Milan, and “The Tale of Ralph the Collier.” Ed. Alan Lupack. Kalamazoo, Mich.: Medieval Institute Publications, Western Michigan University, for TEAMS, 1990.) In Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia Regum Britanniae there is “a giant of monstrous size… emerged from certain regions in Spain” (237) living in Mont Saint Michel. (Geoffrey of Monmouth. The History of the Kings of Britain. Ed. Lewis G. M. Thorpe. London: Penguin Books, 1980.) But these two examples were written from without what we nowadays call Spain. Apparently, medieval Christian Iberians were not interested in depicting monsters in their own territory. Besides the monstrous “serrana” in Juan Ruiz’s Libro de Buen Amor and Rulan’s encounter against giant Ferragudo in the 12th-century Galician translation of the Pseudo Turpin, there appears no other monster. In this paper, I will explore possible explanations to this absence. Where are the local literary monsters? I posit that the convivencia of Christians, Muslims, and Jews in Iberia gave place to a hybrid culture, itself monstrous when seen from far. If monsters are the result of a perceived difference, in the case of Iberia the (religious) other is seen as an “intimate stranger” who is too near to become monstrous.


Bodies on the Border: Human Identity and the Lump-Child in King of Tars

Stephanie Norris – The University of Iowa

This paper seizes upon a horrifying detail in The King of Tars (14thc) that distinguishes that Auchinleck romance from its analogues: the physical nature of the child born to a Christian princess wedded to a Saracen sultan. While other versions of the tale describe a fully formed child whose skin is hirsute, oddly half-hairy and half-smooth, or piebald, the King of Tars represents the progeny of this taboo interfaith marriage as a lump of flesh lacking eyes, nose, mouth and limbs. The question of how to read the presence of the lump-child has recently been engaged by Siobhan Calkin, who claims it embodies “failed or impossible” religious categorization in response to a taboo interfaith marriage and, Jane Gilbert, who argues that it allows the poet to define maternity, paternity and gender roles in the King of Tars. I propose that the presence of the lump child destabilizes traditional medieval human/animal binaries in that its physical deformity insinuates a more far-reaching question: What does it mean to be human? I invoke Giorgio Agamben’s theoretical paradigm of the anthropological machine to enrich my reading of the lump-child as a threatening identity that is neither human nor animal. For Agamben, when the human ceases to be produced and sustained by the inhuman a being “for which we have no name” emerges in that space. I assert that the lump-child triangulates the human/animal binary because it lies outside the boundaries of any category as a completely separate and unidentifiable entity. As a result of this destabilization, traditionally animalized Saracen figures seem to assume a more humanized existence. Nevertheless, the anthropological machine attempts to resume it oppressive production of Christian humanity upon the lump’s Christian baptism (and its reception of a perfect and white human form) but, in the space between the child’s birth and its conversion, this romance offers us a powerful destabilization of notions of Christianity and its Others.


Monstrous Meres and Mirrors in Anglo-Saxon Literature
Brianna K. MacLean

My paper asks how we might contextualise the physical and imaginary geography of monsters in Anglo-Saxon literature. By attempting to locate the position of monsters in the Anglo-Saxon consciousness, we can better understand heroic society by examining what they deemed culturally antithetical, how they understood figures and roles of the Other, and how they translated these understandings into narrative.

One of the most iconic monsters in Anglo-Saxon literature is Beowulf’s Grendel, who is monstrous in his corruption and manipulation of the human form. Beowulf and Grendel are polar opposites who coexist in a paradigm symbiotically; therefore, the existence of one is predicated on the existence of the other. Grendel’s applicability to humanity is more threatening to the Anglo-Saxons than the dragon’s clear separation from humanity since Grendel reflects heroic society and illustrates the human potential for monstrosity. The dragon, as an archetypal monster, cannot reflect heroic society because its form and culture are too disparate from humanity. Like Beowulf, the Liber monstrorum and the Wonders of the East also feature monstrous corruptions of humanity, rather than strictly archetypal monsters. Jeffrey Jerome Cohen argues that the monstrous body is pure culture, a projection of society that exists only to be read. In this light, monsters are a byproduct of culture, necessary to define what it means to be human by revealing meaning, rather than producing it. Thus, monsters are not at the edges of the map, as they were often depicted, but rather at the core of heroic society, functioning as a catalyst for heroic deeds and a reflection of society itself. This presents a disparity between the physical geography of monsters, as illustrated in maps and literature, and the imaginary or cultural spaces that they occupy in the Anglo-Saxon consciousness.


Unexpected Monsters in an Unexpected Place: Representing the Marginal in a Portuguese Medieval Tomb
Marisa COSTA
Scientific researcher (History of Science and Technology Center – University of Lisbon)
Ph.D. Student in Medieval History (University of Lisbon)

The Braga cathedral, in Portugal, owns in its treasure a tomb from the fifteenth century which commemorates Prince Afonso (1390-1400), first-born son of King João I and heir to the Portuguese throne. Although this monument is little known, it is of exceptional quality and European importance, since it combines a series of unique features, totally unprecedented in Portuguese art.
The tomb comprises a gilt, cast copper-alloy effigy of the prince lying on a draped cloth. His face is silvered as is the inside of his tunic’s pleats. The tomb chest supporting the effigy has a wooden core entirely covered with gilded copper friezes and plates richly embossed with vegetal elements, like trees with thick trunks and long branches, as well as zoomorphic elements, like birds, monkeys, hounds, stags, lions, and mythical creatures.
Yet, in this visual form, such medieval natural world is shared by a prolific variety of unexpected beasts. In fact, the plates also show a world inhabited by peculiar hybrids, drolleries and grotesques, wild men and other ‘homines monstruosis’. They display the characteristic marginal world that medieval imagination created and gathered in artistic repertoires rooted in literary sources like fables, travelogues and bestiaries, as in encyclopedias, Fathers of the Church’ texts, the Bible, and, ultimately, classical writings.
Similar representations of otherness and monstrosity within medieval culture normally appear in liminal spaces, like manuscripts margins and borders, ceiling bosses or misericords, in order to entertain viewers, suggest moral interpretations or symbolize the edges of civilization. In this instance, however, unexpected monsters emerge in a surprising, unexpected place as it is the set of tomb chest plates. The aim of this paper is therefore to examine the purposes of such animal imagery, assessing its iconography, its stylistic features and its artistic inspiration.

The Onocentaurus and the Cardinal, or: Distinguised Monsters in 16th-century Venice
Edina Eszenyi, PhD student
University of Kent School of History

The career of the onocentaurus, a.k.a. ass-centaur, has been long and dubious since its appearance in Greek mythology. Certain versions of the Physiologus, as well as Icelandic and early English Bestiaries still made mention of him, yet later he gradually gave place to more popular colleagues merging man and animal, like the centaur or the siren. The appearance of the monster has been even more sporadic in Early Modern times, an example of which is his inclusion in the Aureum rosarium theologiae of the Hungarian Pelbertus de Themeswar.

The presentation deals with the figure of the onocentaurus in the late-sixteenth century angel and demon lexicon of Vincenzo Cicogna, a supposed family member of the contemporary Doge of Venice. The lexicon is entitled Angelorvm et daemonvm nomina et attribvta… (Los Angeles, Getty Research Institute MS 86-A866). It interprets 223 particular and metaphorical references to angels and demons, and ends with a treatise on the parallel of the angelic and ecclesiastical hierarchies, which compares cardinal bishops to fallen angels. Meanwhile, the piece was dedicated right to a cardinal bishop, namely Giulio Antonio Santori, the single most influential member of ecclesiastical circles of his time. As Prefect of the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition he participated in such heresy processes as those against Giordano Bruno, was personal consultant of seven popes, and himself a candidate for papacy in 1592.

While medieval authors compared the onocentaurus to religious deviants, he is a metaphor for demons in Cicogna’s lexicon. The presentation is to explore this monster’s transformation and re-contextualization through eras and cultures til his arrival in realms of the Inquisition.