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The Gnostics and Their Remains

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Author Topic: The Gnostics and Their Remains  (Read 2681 times)
Demiurge
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δημιουργός (dēmiourgós, latinized demiurgus δήμιος


« Reply #195 on: November 22, 2009, 08:17:19 pm »

substituted for the Genius with inverted torch, the skulls and mouldering bones of their own martyrs." And that the larva was popularly imagined in a skeleton form, appears, amongst the rest, from Ovid's line in his 'Ibis'--

"Insequar atque oculos ossea larva tuos."
"Where’er thou turn’st my injured shade shall rise,
 And flit, a fleshless ghost before thine eyes."
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"And he is impious in his arrogance which is in him. For he said, 'I am God and there is no other God beside me,' for he is ignorant of his strength, the place from which he had come."- Yaltabaoth
Demiurge
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δημιουργός (dēmiourgós, latinized demiurgus δήμιος


« Reply #196 on: November 22, 2009, 08:17:39 pm »

Seneca also laughs at the vulgar notion of "larva-forms, frames of bare bones hanging together;" and Trimalchio, at his famous dinner, in order to promote conviviality, throws down upon the table a silver larva, so ingeniously made as to bound about on the board with every limb quivering, whilst the host hiccups out the admonition--

"Heu, Heu, nos miseros, quam totus homuncio nil est,
 Sic erimus cuncti, postquam nos auferet Orcus
 Ergo vivamus dum licet esse bene."
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"And he is impious in his arrogance which is in him. For he said, 'I am God and there is no other God beside me,' for he is ignorant of his strength, the place from which he had come."- Yaltabaoth
Demiurge
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δημιουργός (dēmiourgós, latinized demiurgus δήμιος


« Reply #197 on: November 22, 2009, 08:17:51 pm »

Such a larva sometimes makes his appearance on the gem, introduced there for the same purpose--to remind his wearer of the shortness of life, and the wisdom of making the best use of the portion allotted to him--speaking, mutely, the words of Virgil's 'Copa Syrisca'--

"Pone merum et talos, pereat qui crastina curat!
 Mors aurem vellens; Vivite, ait, venio."
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"And he is impious in his arrogance which is in him. For he said, 'I am God and there is no other God beside me,' for he is ignorant of his strength, the place from which he had come."- Yaltabaoth
Demiurge
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δημιουργός (dēmiourgós, latinized demiurgus δήμιος


« Reply #198 on: November 22, 2009, 08:18:14 pm »

Thus upon one gem we behold him holding forth in his bony hand the lecythus (long, pointed vase of oil), that regularly accompanied every Greek interment, whilst he leans with his elbow against a huge amphora of wine, as though recommending the enjoyment of its contents whilst yet in one's power. * Another, a more fanciful composition, depicts Cupid casting the light of his torch into the depths of an immense Corinthian crater out of which a skeleton is throwing himself headlong, as though scared away by the hateful glare--a design whose abstruse meaning may perhaps be interpreted by the foregoing

p. 182
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"And he is impious in his arrogance which is in him. For he said, 'I am God and there is no other God beside me,' for he is ignorant of his strength, the place from which he had come."- Yaltabaoth
Demiurge
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δημιουργός (dēmiourgós, latinized demiurgus δήμιος


« Reply #199 on: November 22, 2009, 08:18:29 pm »

remarks ('Impronte Gemmarie,' ii. 10, 11). * A skeleton, likewise, was often painted on the wall of tombs; for example, in that pathetic scene at Pompeii, where a mother is represented laying a mortuary fillet over the bones of her child. In all these cases the form is merely intended to symbolise the condition of death by placing before the eye the body as deserted by life, reduced to the state most expressive of mortality and decay, and which cannot be mistaken for one of sleep. But it is easy to perceive how ready was the transition from the hieroglyph of mortality regarded as a state (especially when to the popular mind the figure also represented a restless and malignant spiritual being) to the adoption of the same inauspicious shape for the embodiment of the idea of the actual principle of destruction.
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"And he is impious in his arrogance which is in him. For he said, 'I am God and there is no other God beside me,' for he is ignorant of his strength, the place from which he had come."- Yaltabaoth
Demiurge
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δημιουργός (dēmiourgós, latinized demiurgus δήμιος


« Reply #200 on: November 22, 2009, 08:18:57 pm »

But to return to antique imagery of the same sense. The idea of death is ingeniously and curiously expressed in a fresco decorating the lately discovered vault of Vincentius and Vibia, in the Catacombs of Prætextatus, Rome. In the scene labelled "abreptio Vibie et Discensio," the messenger of Fate, "Mercurius," appears placing one foot and leading the way into a huge urn laid sideways on the ground. The allusion to Orcus in the name of such a vessel, orca, is sufficiently obvious, and in fact both may spring from the same root, ἕρκος, inclosure, prison. But the most common type, perpetually repeated on sarcophagi and tablets, is the Horse, significant of departure, looking in through the window upon a party carousing--life's festive scene. Yet more forcibly is the same notion carried out in an Etruscan sculpture (figured in the Revue Archéologique, 1844), where the angel of death, Charun, armed as usual with his ponderous mall, actually leads this horse upon which sits the deceased with head muffled up, "capite obnupto"--the established form in sentencing a criminal to execution. The same reason, probably, made the horse's heal

p. 183
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"And he is impious in his arrogance which is in him. For he said, 'I am God and there is no other God beside me,' for he is ignorant of his strength, the place from which he had come."- Yaltabaoth
Demiurge
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δημιουργός (dēmiourgós, latinized demiurgus δήμιος


« Reply #201 on: November 22, 2009, 08:19:26 pm »

so popular a subject for signet-gems; it served there for a memento-mori, like the death's heads so much in vogue amongst the jewels of the Cinque-cento time, although the antique symbol carried with it a widely different admonition. The same notion may possibly lie at the bottom of that immemorial custom in South Wales of the mummers carrying the skull of a horse in their Christmas merry-makings.

Cognate to this is that most ancient representation of the conveyance of the departed soul to the realms of bliss--imagined as some happy island in the far West--upon a fantastic hippocampus, in figure like a winged sea-serpent, and who later became the Roman Capricornus, "Ruler of the Hesperian Wave:"--

"Thou, for thy rule, O Capricorn! hast won
 All that extends beneath the setting sun,"
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"And he is impious in his arrogance which is in him. For he said, 'I am God and there is no other God beside me,' for he is ignorant of his strength, the place from which he had come."- Yaltabaoth
Demiurge
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δημιουργός (dēmiourgós, latinized demiurgus δήμιος


« Reply #202 on: November 22, 2009, 08:19:42 pm »

as Manilius defines the authority of that amphibious sign. But the original conception is often engraved upon Phœnician scarabic; and no doubt can remain as to its intention, since Caylus has published an Etruscan vase (i. pl. 32) where this same monster is painted joyously careering over the sea, whilst on its other side stands the mourner, præfica, chaunting the funeral hymn over the corpse laid out upon its bier of bronze.

To continue within the earliest portion of the subject, it must be observed that in the most ancient monument of Greek sculpture whereof any account remains--the Coffer of Cypselus (executed earlier than 600 B.C.)--Night was represented carrying in her arms two children, alike in all respects save colour; the one white, the other black, having their legs crossed: * their names being inscribed over them--Sleep and Death--for their mother was hastening to the aid of the expiring Memnon. Thus it is manifest that from the very dawn of pictorial art the crossed legs were the accepted emblem of the most profound repose; whilst the sluggard's wish for "a little more folding of

p. 184
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"And he is impious in his arrogance which is in him. For he said, 'I am God and there is no other God beside me,' for he is ignorant of his strength, the place from which he had come."- Yaltabaoth
Demiurge
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δημιουργός (dēmiourgós, latinized demiurgus δήμιος


« Reply #203 on: November 22, 2009, 08:19:56 pm »

the hands in slumber" bears the same testimony to the import of the crossed arms of the Roman Genius who leans on his inverted torch. In that master-piece of Roman chasing, the Pompeian discus, "The Death of Cleopatra," the object of the design is indicated with equal truth and pathos by the placing of the beauteous infant genius at the knee of the dying queen, on which he rests his elbow to form a support for his head as though dropping off into a gentle slumber. The traditional attitude * retained its significancy well understood far down into the Middle Ages: witness so many cross-legged effigies of warriors resting from their toils--who for that sole reason popularly pass for crusaders.
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"And he is impious in his arrogance which is in him. For he said, 'I am God and there is no other God beside me,' for he is ignorant of his strength, the place from which he had come."- Yaltabaoth
Demiurge
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δημιουργός (dēmiourgós, latinized demiurgus δήμιος


« Reply #204 on: November 22, 2009, 08:20:07 pm »

But in the whole long catalogue of emblems, not one expressed the abstract idea so definitely as that most frequently employed in such sense--the Gorgon's Head. Accepting the explanation already offered (p. 167), that at its origin this terrific visage was designed for the "vera effigies" of the Queen of the dead, it was the most speaking emblem of her office that could possibly be chosen. In the Heroic ages it was universally painted, or embossed upon the warrior's shield; and with the progress of art, cut in cameo, became the regular decoration of the imperial breastplate; † in which post it served, as Lucian remarks ('Philopatris'), "both to terrify enemies and to avert all danger from the wearer," conveying to all beholders the menace of death exactly as now by an un designed coincidence does the death's head and cross-bones painted upon the pirate's flag. The Byzantines, in the true spirit of their gloomy superstition, discarded the Præ-Italian type for whose beauty they had lost all feeling, and reverted to the image invented by the horror-loving genius of Pelasgic barbarism. They saw in it the most faithful representation of their Μοῖρα, the destroying demon or ghoul, still believed by the Greek peasant to haunt

p. 185
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Demiurge
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δημιουργός (dēmiourgós, latinized demiurgus δήμιος


« Reply #205 on: November 22, 2009, 08:20:19 pm »

ruins and desolate places. That the figure was received in such a sense into Byzantine symbolism, the examples of amulets already quoted convincingly declare. From Byzantine the Gorgon passed into Gothic art, which ever revelling in grotesque horror, its inspiring genius being the skeleton which intrudes his ghastliness into every mode of ornamentation, even of a mirror-frame (Lucrezia Borgia's for example) contrived to render the image yet more terrible by converting the face into a fleshless skull, and substituting for the hawk's wings lent by Hermes, which previously impelled its flight, the skinny pillions of her own congenial and much-loved fowl, the sepulchre-haunting bat.

But of all these emblems, not one is so full of poetry and truth as the device of the Winged Foot crushing the Butterfly, Life. The Foot, chosen probably for the same reason as the Horse, as conveying most speakingly the notion of departure, was equally accepted as the emblem of death. Horace's simile must occur to every reader:--

"Pallida Mors æquo pulsat pede pauperum tabernas
 Regumque turres."
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"And he is impious in his arrogance which is in him. For he said, 'I am God and there is no other God beside me,' for he is ignorant of his strength, the place from which he had come."- Yaltabaoth
Demiurge
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δημιουργός (dēmiourgós, latinized demiurgus δήμιος


« Reply #206 on: November 22, 2009, 08:20:32 pm »

On this account the Foot became the peculiar attribute of the infernal deities; and the figure of one carved in stone was often dedicated in the temple of Serapis *--apparently as an ex voto commemorating the donor's escape from the very threshold of his dark domain. Singularly related to this custom is what Moor notices of the pairs of feet carved in stone commonly seen in the vicinity of Hindoo temples, traditionally said to be memorials of suttees, marking the spot whence the devoted widow stepped from earth upon the funeral pile, that is into the Gate of Heaven.

It has long been a question how the Grecian Hades ("The Invisible One") and the Roman Pluto were depicted in a bodily form as they were originally conceived--for their Egyptian equivalent, Serapis, figures much more frequently in

p. 186
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δημιουργός (dēmiourgós, latinized demiurgus δήμιος


« Reply #207 on: November 22, 2009, 08:20:45 pm »

monuments of Imperial date than either of his brethren, Jove or Neptune. In the latter style he is regularly sculptured as Plutus, "Lord of Riches," seated on a throne, holding a cornucopia, and extending with his right hand a cluster of earth's choicest gifts. But under what form the primitive Greeks had imagined their Aïdoneus, God of the Shades, before Serapis was introduced into their mythology, is a question that has never been satisfactorily answered. We should have found him on the scarabeus of the Etruscans and early Italiotes, had not a long-enduring respect for things divine (expressly enjoined by Pythagoras) prevented their placing in their signets, used for everyday purposes, the actual figures of the gods, whose absence they supplied by their well-known attributes. For this reason a popular Etruscan seal-device is Cerberus, represented sometimes as a man with three heads of a dog, but more commonly in the shape so familiar to us from later arts. But the Egyptians had contrived to make their Guardian of the Shades much more formidable in aspect by equipping him with the heads of a lion, crocodile, and hippopotamus. We are also certified in what shape the Etruscans imaged their god of the lower world, Mantus; for he is painted with serpent legs, like Typhon, wielding a huge butcher's cleaver, and attended by Cerberus, enthroned upon the court placed below the niche of interment, loculus, in the Campana tomb, Cervetri.
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"And he is impious in his arrogance which is in him. For he said, 'I am God and there is no other God beside me,' for he is ignorant of his strength, the place from which he had come."- Yaltabaoth
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δημιουργός (dēmiourgós, latinized demiurgus δήμιος


« Reply #208 on: November 22, 2009, 08:20:58 pm »

The "Helmet of Hades" is named by Homer (v. 845), which Pallas puts on in order to render herself invisible to Ares which helmet the scholiast explains by "cloud and invisibility"--whence it seems but natural to infer that, as this deity was rendered invisible by his very attribute, no attempt would be made to depict his personal appearance. A figure of a god in long flowing robes, and wielding a trident wanting one of its prongs, sometimes painted on the Nolan vases, has been taken for an Aïdoneus, but on no sufficient grounds, there being better reason to consider him a Poseidon in the archaic style. The epithet "Renowned for horses" is given to the same god elsewhere by Homer (v. 445), allusive doubtless to the swiftness of the Destroyer: and in the same title may, perchance, lie the motive which made the Greeks adopt the horse, as above noticed,

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δημιουργός (dēmiourgós, latinized demiurgus δήμιος


« Reply #209 on: November 22, 2009, 08:21:17 pm »

for the commonest symbol of his power. If we could meet with any genuine antique and early representation of the **** of Proserpine it would at once decide the question by portraying the grim Ravisher himself; but the inauspicious nature of the subject (so conspicuously set forth in Suetonius’ anecdote of the ring with the story presented by Sporus to Nero for a New Year's gift) has completely excluded it from the artist's repertory, so far as anything now remaining informs us. Stosch's Collection, amongst its immense variety of mythological designs, contains nothing of the sort, whilst Raspe gives for its representative only a single antique paste (and that, too, of very dubious attribution) where a god with quiver on shoulder is carrying off a Nymph in a car drawn by two swans--attributes properly bespeaking an Apollo; and if really given here to Pluto, proving the work to belong to those latter times of Paganism when Hades, Serapis, Phœbus, were equally interpreted as mere titles of the Solar god.
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"And he is impious in his arrogance which is in him. For he said, 'I am God and there is no other God beside me,' for he is ignorant of his strength, the place from which he had come."- Yaltabaoth
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