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Mazes and Labyrinths

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Kabrina Teppe
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« Reply #75 on: March 19, 2009, 01:34:33 pm »



FIG. 40.--Labyrinth engraved on an ancient gem. (Maffei.)
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Kabrina Teppe
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« Reply #76 on: March 19, 2009, 01:34:58 pm »

smaragdo factus, quia sicut non valet quis laberinthum scrutare, ita non debet consilium dominatoris propalare.

"Let there be represented on it (the Emperor's robe) a labyrinth of gold and pearls, in which is the Minotaur, made of emerald, holding his finger to his mouth, thus signifying that, just as none may know the secret of the labyrinth, so none may reveal the monarch's counsels."

It has been pointed out by Mr. A. B. Cook that in the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge is a painting by Bartolommeo Veneto (1502-1530) representing an unknown man who wears on his breast a labyrinth resembling that described above.



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Kabrina Teppe
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« Reply #77 on: April 03, 2009, 01:24:21 pm »

 54

CHAPTER IX
CHURCH LABYRINTHS
THE consideration of labyrinths worked in Roman mosaic pavements leads us on to a very interesting development of the subject which deserves a chapter to itself, namely, the Labyrinth in the Church.

Probably the oldest known example of this nature is that in the ancient basilica of Reparatus at Orléansville (Algeria), an edifice which is believed to date from the fourth century A.D. In the pavement near the north-west entrance of the church is the design shown in outline in Fig. 42. It measures about 8 ft. in diameter and shows great resemblance to the Roman pavement found at Harpham and the tomb-mosaic at Susa. At the centre is a jeu-de-lettres on the words SANCTA ECLESIA, which may be read in any direction, except diagonally, commencing at the centre. But for the employment of these words the labyrinth in question might well have been conceived to be a Roman relic utilised by the builders of the church to ornament their pavement. Such pavement-labyrinths, however, with or without central figures or other embellishments, and of various dimensions and composition, are found in many of the old churches of France and Italy.

They seem to have been constructed chiefly during the twelfth century, and although several of them have been destroyed many fine examples still remain. Some

p. 55

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Kabrina Teppe
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« Reply #78 on: April 03, 2009, 01:24:44 pm »



FIG. 42.--Labyrinth in Church of Reparatus, Orléansville, Algeria.
(Prevost.)
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Kabrina Teppe
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« Reply #79 on: April 03, 2009, 01:25:08 pm »



FIG. 43.--Labyrinth in Lucca Cathedral. (Durand.)

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Kabrina Teppe
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« Reply #80 on: April 03, 2009, 01:25:19 pm »

p. 56

are formed on the walls instead of the pavements, and in such cases are of smaller dimensions.

On the whole, too, those in the Italian churches are much smaller than the French specimens. On the wall of Lucca Cathedral (Fig. 43) is one of a diameter of only 1 ft. 7½ in. It formerly enclosed at the centre a representation of Theseus and the Minotaur, but owing to the friction of many generations of tracing fingers this has
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« Reply #81 on: April 03, 2009, 01:26:07 pm »



FIG. 44.--Labyrinth in S. Michele, Pavia. (Ciampini.)

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Kabrina Teppe
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« Reply #82 on: April 03, 2009, 01:26:18 pm »

become effaced. Opposite the "entrance" is the inscription:


HIC QUEM CRETICUS EDIT
DAEDALUS EST LABERINTHUS,
DE QUO NULLUS VADERE
QUIVIT QUI FUIT INTUS,
NI THESEUS GRATIS ADRIANE
STAMINE JUTUS.

A similar small labyrinth, with a central Theseus-Minotaur design, is to be found on the wall of the church of San Michele Maggiore at Pavia (Fig. 44). It is thought to be of tenth-century construction. This is one of the few cases where the Minotaur is represented with a human head and a beast's body--as a sort of Centaur, in fact. It is accompanied by the words "TESEUS INTRAVIT MONSTRUMQUE BIFORME NECAVIT."

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« Reply #83 on: April 03, 2009, 01:26:51 pm »



Fig. 45. Labyrinth in S. Maria-di-Trastavera, Rome. (Durand)
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Kabrina Teppe
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« Reply #84 on: April 03, 2009, 01:27:11 pm »



Fig. 46. Labyrinth in S. Vitale, Ravenna. (Durand)



 

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Kabrina Teppe
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« Reply #85 on: April 03, 2009, 01:27:22 pm »

p. 57

Of about the same period was the example in the church of San Savino at Piacenza. It is described by P. M. Campi in his "Ecclesiastical History of Piacenza" (1651), under the year A.D. 903. The signs of the Zodiac were placed in juxtaposition to it. The accompanying legend in this case consisted of four hexameters, to the effect that the labyrinth represented the world we live in, broad at the entrance, but narrow at the exit, so that he who is ensnared by the joys of this world, and weighed down by his vices, can regain the doctrine of life only with difficulty.


HVNC MVNDVM TIPICE LABERINTHVS DENOTAT ISTE:
INTRANTI LARGUS, REDEUNTI SET NIMIS ARTVS
SIC MVNDO CAPTVS, VICIORVM MOLLE GRAVATVS
VIX VALET AD VITE DOCTRINAM QVISQVE REDIRE.

In the Cathedral of Cremona, which, like Pavia and Piacenza, is on the banks of the River Po, is a mutilated mosaic of early date--possibly eighth or ninth century--showing part of an interlaced pattern which was evidently intended to refer to the Cretan Labyrinth, as it was placed close to two figures in fighting attitudes and armed with swords and shields, the right-hand figure having the head of a beast and the label "CENTAVRVS." (There was apparently little distinction between a Minotaur and a Centaur in the minds of some mediaeval artists.)

A rather larger specimen, 5 ft. in diameter, may be seen in the church of Sta. Maria-in-Aquiro, Rome. It is composed of bands of porphyry and yellow and green marble, surrounding a central plate of porphyry, and is similar in design to that at Lucca. Another church in the same city, Sta. Maria-di-Trastavera, has a labyrinth composed of variously coloured marbles worked in the floor.

p. 58

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Kabrina Teppe
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« Reply #86 on: April 03, 2009, 01:27:31 pm »

It is 11 ft. across and was probably constructed about 1190 A.D. (Fig. 45). It is now somewhat mutilated, but was originally a most beautiful example. The fact that the inner paths consist of a series of concentric rings rather suggests that it has at some time been repaired without regard to the original design; unless we accept the hypothesis of M. Durand that they bore a symbolic
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« Reply #87 on: April 03, 2009, 01:27:52 pm »



FIG. 47.--Labyrinth in Chartres Cathedral. (Gailhabaud.)

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Kabrina Teppe
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« Reply #88 on: April 03, 2009, 01:28:00 pm »

reference to the various degrees of beatitude by which the soul approaches heaven, as figured by Dante. Fig. 46 shows another old Italian specimen. It is nearly 11½ ft. in diameter and is to be found in the church of San Vitale, Ravenna.

Designs of this nature were widely employed by the mediaeval church builders in France, and, although many of them were destroyed at the Revolution and at other times, several fine examples still exist. They seem to have

p. 59

been mostly built at a rather later date than those already described. The largest now remaining is that in Chartres Cathedral (Fig. 47). It is formed of blue and white stones and is about 40 ft. in diameter. The French poet Bouthrays, in his "Histoire de Chartres" (1624), describes it in a set of Latin verses. A fine sketch of it appears in the "Album" of the thirteenth-century architect, Villard de

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« Reply #89 on: April 03, 2009, 01:29:27 pm »



FIG. 48.--Labyrinth in Amiens Cathedral. (Gailhabaud.)
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