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"The Serpent-Eating Stag in the Renaissance"
Michael Bath
in Gabriel Bianciotto & Michel Salvat, ed., Épopée Animale, Fable, Fabliau: Actes du IVe Colloque de la Société Internationale Renardienne, Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1984, 55-69

"My purpose in this paper is to show something of what happens to a particular piece of medieval animal symbolism when it is taken up by the writers and emblematists of the Renaissance. The belief that stags eat snakes was sanctioned by classical writers on natural history such as Pliny, Aelian and Oppian. ... Physiologus was among the earliest writers to give this process an allegorical explanation, in which he was followed by the early fathers and by Psalm commentaries throughout the Middle Ages... Thus allegorized it found its way into monumental art ... and we find it regularly in encyclopaedias and Bestiaries. ... In the Renaissance it was perpetuated in three different types of source: firstly by writers of natural history, who are the continuators of the medieval Bestiaries and encyclopaedias; secondly in emblem books; and thirdly in association with a number of literary tropoi featuring the stag which at first sight look quite unconnected." - Bath

10 illustrations.

Language: English

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