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THE SURVIVAL

OF THE PAGAN GODS


The Mytlwlogical Tradition and Its Place

in Renaissance Humanism and Art

By

JEAN S EZN EC
Follow of AU Souls Collogo, 0:</ord

TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH BY


BARBARA F . SESSIONS

+
HARPER TORCHB OOKS I THE • BOLLINGEN LIBRARY

HARPER & ROW, PUBLISHERS • NEW YORK


Contents

TO PAGE
Introduction 3
THE 1tiEMORY
B 0 0 K I
OF
PART ONE: THE CO NCEPTS
MY MOTHER
GENERAL ARGUMENT . The ancient gods survive during the Middle
Ages by virtue of interpretations of their origin and nature pro-
pounded by antiquity itself.

I. The Historical Tradition 11


Euhemerism and Christian apologetics, p. I2. Euhemerism in the Middle
Ages, p. I 3. The gods a.s precursors of civilization, p. I 4; a.s founders of
dynasties, p. I 9· Euhemerism during the Renaissance, p. 2o. Ethnological
legends at the Burgundian court, in France, in Italy, p. 24. The historical
THE SURVIVAL OF THE PAGAN GODS
tradition and iconography, p. 2 6

Copyright 1953 by Bollingen Foundation Inc. , New York, N.Y.


Printed in the United States of America
11. The Physical Tradition 37
Astral divinities at the end of the pagan era, p. 37 · Attitude of the Church
This volume is the thirty-eighth in a series of books
Fathers toward a.strology, p. 42. Attitude of the Middle Ages : the role of
sponsored by Bollingen Foundation Inc.
the gods in science and magic, p. 4 6. Astrology during the Renaissance :
attitude of the humanists, p. 56 . The physical tradition and iconography,
This book was originally published in French as
p. 63. The microcosms, p. 64. The planets and their "children" in Italian
La Survivance des dieu.x antiques,
STUDIES OF THE WARBURG INSTITUTE, Vol. XJ, London, 1940.
monumental art from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century, p. 6 9 . The
It was first published in English in 1953 gods of the Farnesina and the Cappella Chigi, p. 79
by Pantheon Books, Inc., New York, for Bollingen Foundation.
It is reprinted by arrangement.
III. The Moral Tradition 84
First HARPER ToRCHBOOK edition published 1961 Mythclogical allegory in antiquily, p. 84; in the hands of the Church
Father:s, p. 87; in the Middle Ages, p. 89. The Ovide moralise and its
Library of Congress catalog card number : 52-10520 progeny, p. 9'· Fulgentius metaforalis, p. 94· The Renaissance and myth-
ological allegory, p. 95· Neoplatonism, p. 96. Hieroglyphs and emblems,
p. 99 · The moral tradition and iconography, p. I 04 · The psychomachia
in art, p. Io9. Symbolism in BotticeUi, p. r r2 ; in Correggio, p. r '7; in
TilUm, p. I '9
v
P A B T 0 N E& T BE £ 0 N £ E P T S

The Historical Tradition

T B E A P PEARAN CE, early in the third century B . C., of the romance


O
_N

by Euhemerus which was destined to exert so lasting an influence, the in·


tellectual climate of the Greco·Roman world was in a state exceptionally fa.
vorahle to its reeeption.' Philosophical speculation and recent history alike
had prepared the way for an understanding of the process by which, in times
long past, the gods had been recruited from the ranks of mortal men.
Philosophy, from Aristotle onward, had recognized a divine element
within the human soul. the nature of which was thus more specifically defined
by the Stoics: "Deus est mortali juvare mortalem et haec ad aeternam gloriam
via" ("For mortal to aid mortal-this is God, and this is the road to eternal
glory'') .• A noble formula this, which Cicero develops in his Twculan Dis-
putations: those men have within them a supernatural element and are des·
tined for eternal life who regard themselves as hom into the world to help
and guard and preserve their fellow men. Hercules passed away to join the
gods: he would never so have passed unless in the course of his mortal life
he had built for himself the road he traveled.•
At the same time, the superhuman career of Alexander, and above all
his expedition to India-where he became the object of adoration similar to
that which, according to the myth, had once greeted Dionysus there-had
suddenly thrown light upon the origin of the gods. For the generations who
subsequently witnessed the official deification of the ~leucids and Ptolemies
1 See P. Dec:h.ume, L4 Critiq.u ,u, tratUtitlru • Plilly, Histt>ri4 ~~G~Walis, n, 7, 18; in all
reli8i•u.•• cllc lu 6'•0$ (Paris, 19M), pp. probability, a translation from Poaidocriua.
3n-373, lllld Chap. xii : "L'EYbembiame et • Cicero, Tu.c~ 1, 32; oee a1oo ibiJ~ ~.
l'interpnlwiOD biatoriqua." IUld De IIGIIU'II .Uorum, n, 2<L
11
12 T HE HISTORICAL TR ADITION 13
THE SURVIVAL OF THE PAGAN GODS
there could be no further doubt : the traditional deities were merely earthly earth to heaven through the idolatry of their contemporaries ( PL, VI, 190 ff.).
Also euhemeristic in inspiration are the De idolorum vanitate of St. Gyp·
rulers, whom the gratitude or adulation of their subjects had raised to a place
rian, the De idololatria of Tertullian, the Octavius of Minucius Felix, the
in heaven.•
Adversus nationes of Arnobius, the lnstructiones adversus gentium deos of
The appearance of Euhemerus' work was well timed. Its success was
Commodian, and the De erroribus profanarum religionum of Firmicus
immediate. It was one of the first books to be translated from Greek into Latin;
Maternus. St. Augustine, in the De consensu Evangelistarum (PL, XXXIV,
Ennius' version, as is well known, gave it general currency in Rome, where
1056) and the De civitate Dei (vn, 18, and vm, 26), was to subscribe in his
Picus, Janus, and Saturn promptly became princes who bad once ruled over
turn to this theory, which seemed bound to prove fatal to the adversary.
Latium. The euhemeristic thesis set at rest for a time the disquiet that the
Thus euhemerism became a favorite weapon of the Christian polemi·
traditional mythology had always inspired in the minds of educated men,
cists, a weapon which they made use of at every turn.s In fact, as Cumont has
who, though unable to accord it their literal belief, had nevertheless hesitated
shown," their tactics were not always wholly legitimate, being aimed for the
to reject as a mass of outright falsehood the time-honored tales for which
most part at an idolatry long since extinct, and at gods whose existence had
Homer himself stood guarantor. A few voices, however, denounced euhe·
been reduced to a mere literary convention. What matters to us, however, is that
merism as impious and absurd. • Above all, its prosaic character made it
the Christian apologists bequeathed to the Middle Ages a tradition of euhe·
disappointing to the ever increasing number of persons who had succumbed
merism, with further reinforcement from the commentators of Virgil--espe·
to the appeal of the supernatural and craved a more emotional type of reli·
cially from Servius, whose errors the Middle Ages accepted as articles of
gious belief. •
faith.'"
But euhemerism was to enjoy an extraordinary revival at the beginning
*
of the Christian era. First the apologists, then the Fathers, seized eagerly upon
THE EUHEMERISTIC tradition remains a living influence throughout the
this weapon which paganism itself had offered them, and made use of it
Middle Ages, although it undergoes a total change of character. The human
against its polytheistic source.
origin of the gods ceases to be a weapon to be used against them, a source of
It was only too easy for Clement of Alexandria, who quoted Euhemerus
rejection and contempt. Instead, it gives them a certain protection, even grant·
in his Cohortatio ad gentes (PG, VIII, 152) to declare to the infidel: ''Those
ing them a right to survive. ln the end it forms, as it were, their patent of
to whom you bow were once men like yourselves." 1 Lactantius, again, to
nobility.
whom we owe the preservation of a few fragments of Euhemerus and of En·
First of all, euhemerism at a rather early date loses its polemic venom,
nius' translation, proclaims triumphantly in his Divinae institutiones that the
to become instead an auxiliary to historical research .. Certain men have be·
gods, one and all, are nothing but mortal beings who have been raised from
come gods; at what period, then, were they alive upon earth? Is it possible to
• Instances of deification of high f:cyptian o8i- whole of heaven • •. • filled witb goda of assign them a definite place in human history?
cials at an earlier date are given by Charleo mortal origin?") - LCL. Cf. Plutarch. De
• And sometimes for contradictory ends. In tbe further humanizing tbe divinitieo of springs,
Picard in his article, "L'Inhumation 'ad ~~.nc­ bide el Osiride, :mr.
towna, Christian preaching encountered a pre· trees, and mountAins; in order to rob tbem of
tos' dans l'antiquite," Revu archiolo6ique • G. Boisoier, U. Re~n rornaine, 4'Aut!u.ste
dominantly symbolic or allegorical explanation tbeir prestige. See P. Alpbandery, " L'Evhe-
I (1947) , pp. 82--85. cw.s Antonini, u, vii, 2. On tbe fortunes of
5 Cicero, De n.atu.r. deor., I, 42. But in a pas.. euhemeriom in antiquity, see Gilbert Murray, of the myths, which had to be refuted in a mtSri.sme et les~Ebttd de I hDfOfre des rdl-
sage in Tu.sc. (r, 12-13) , Cicero -.... im· Fioe Stage• of Greek Relisi<>n (ed. 1935), aummary and brutal way. In country diatricb, ~1ons au Mo!en-A£:." Revue ;& fhlStou-e des
plicitly to admit tbat all tbe godo are men pp. 152-160, and A. B. Drachmann, Ath.eum the chief obstacle to Christianity wa.s offered ~Udan s n!: l 1~). pp 1 Zt pp p 13.
who have been raised from eartb to heaven: in PIJKWl Antiqui:y (Copenhagen, 1922). by tbe tenaciotlB survival of anthropomorphic • Le• Religioru or;i.enl41.. dmu k ptl81J1Wme
"Totum prope caelum . • • nonne genere TOL W'poa'xuroii~~•o ' ra.p' Up.&, l.•tlptJJ'rOL oyoO.. cults; here tbe problem became one of otill ro17UUn (4tb ed., 1929), pp. ~187.
10 See Alpbandery, op. cit~ p. 18.
humano completum est?" ("'s not almoat the 1£fPOl •61'1.
THE SURVIVAL OF THE PAGAN GODS THE HISTORI CAL TRADITION 15
This tendency is already apparent in Eusebius. He explains in his Ec· ers of monsters, founders of cities, discoverers of arts and skills. The result
clesia.stical History that the Babylonian god Baal was in reality the first king was to restore dignity and independence to the personages of Fable : as bene-
of the Assyrians, and that he lived at the time of the war between the Giants factors of humanity they had every right to be held in grateful remembrance.
and the Titans (PC, XIX, 132-133). The coincidence in time is still only ap· And on the other hand, there was no reason for subordinating them to figures
proximate, and it is clear, furthermore, that Eusebius' main concern is to show from Holy Writ-to the patriarchs, judges, and prophets; they could be
the religion of the chosen people as antedating pagan mythology. It was he, ranked together, even if they were not of the same lineage. By gaining a foot-
however, who bequeathed to the Middle Ages, through St. Jerome, the pro· hold in history, the gods had acquired new prestige.
totype of those crude historical synchronizations which grouped all the events This is clearly to be seen, fo r example, in Ado of Vienne, whose Chron-
and characters of human history, from the birth of Abraham down to the icle of the Six Ages of the World stems from the Etymologiae. After speaking
Christian era (including the gods themselves), into a few essential periods. of Moses and the Exodus, he refers to contemporary events in the pagan
After Eusebius, Paulus Orosius does much the same thing. Although world : "In those days, it is said, lived Prometheus, who is believed to have
he is writing "adversus paganos" and under the inspiration of Augustine, fashioned men out of clay; his brother, Atlas, living at the same time, was re-
his book is above all an attempt to unravel the past, even the past of fable and garded as a great astrologer ; the grandson of Atlas, Mercury, was a sage
legend; this is all the more significant since it remained a manual of the high· skilled in several arts. For this reason, the vain error of his contemporaries
est authority throughout the Middle Ages and even into the Renaissance, go- placed him after his death among the gods" (PL, cxxm, 35) .
ing through twenty editions in the sixteenth century. Aside from the expression "vain error," this passage has lost all accent
But it is in the seventh century, in the Etymologiae of Isidore of Seville, of contempt or hostility; instead, we observe a concern for fixing dates, for de-
that we find the most interesting application of euhemerism to history, in the tennining pedigrees and genealogies, with a view to making room for the
chapter "De diis gentium" (Bk. vm, chap. xi; PL, LXXXII, 314). "Quos pa- heroes of Fable in the annals of humanity. Does this not constitute a recogni-
11
gani deos asserunt, homines olim fuisse produntur." Not only does Isidore, tion of the virtues which, in times long past, had earned them their place in
following Lactantius, accept this principle--he seeks to demonstrate it. He heaven? Parallel to the story of Scripture, this account of profane history is
attempts to "place" these gods "secundum ordinem temporum" in world no longer subordinate to it; the first neither influences nor overshadows the
history divided into six great periods: from the Creation to the Flood; from second. Mercury has his own kind of greatness, as Moses has his. We have
the Flood to Abraham; from Abraham to David ; from David to the Baby- come a long way from Eusebius, who derived all pagan divinities from the
lonian Captivity; from the Captivity to the Birth of Christ; from the Nativity Moses type, and for whom profane wisdom was merely a reflection of the wis-
onward. This scheme may appear rudimentary, but Isidore's erudition en- dom of Israel.
abled him to enrich it with a wealth of marvelous detail concerning primitive *
Egypt, Assyria, Greece, and Rome. Drawing by way of Lactantius on Varro, Ano OF VIENNE is only one among the innumerable continuators of Isidore;
and even on Ennius, he reconstructed mythological groups and dynasties: in fact, there is hardly a chronicler or compiler of universal history writing
Belus, king of Assyria, of whom Eusebius had spoken, was the father of after the great encyclopedist who fails to include humanized gods in his enu-
Ninus, etc. Above all, he singled out in these primitive ages the heroic figures meration of ancient kings and heroes. We shall not present the endle..."S list of
who, from Prometheus on, had been leaders and pioneers in civilization-slay- these authors here, especially as it has already been compiled by others .... Let
us mention only the most important of them all Peter Comestor.
11 "Those whom lhe pagans claim to be gods 12
See Alphandery, op. cit., and J. D. Cooke, C!assica11'apnk!m," Spm+lrw n \1927) , pP.
were once mere men." "Euhemeriam, A Mediaeval lnterpretauon of ~0.
THE HISTORIC AL TRADITION 17
16 THE SURVIVAL OF THE PAGAN GODS
foreknowledge of Christian verity, and had foretold its coming. Applied to the
Around the year 1160, this Peter Comestor, dean of the church of Notre
ruvin.ities of paganism, this tendency bas, as will be seen, surprising results.
Dame at Troyes and later chancellor of Notre Dame at Paris, wrote under
Not only does it " justify" the false gods by recognizing in them certain real
the title of Historia scholastica a history of God's people which penetrated to
virtues, but it even goes so far as to re-endow them with at least a part of their
all parts of Europe in the translation by Guyart des Moulins (Bible historiale
supernatural character.'"
[1294]). In this work, which enjoyed tremendous authority," we recognize in
If we now look back at the diatribes of Arnobius and Commodian, we
fixed and, as it were, codified form, the euhemeristic orientation that we first
shall see that uhemerism was a weapon which cut both ways. What. in the in-
saw beginning to take shape in the writings of Isidore.
tention of the apologists, it should have demolished, it actually confirmed and
As an appendix to his sacred history, Peter condenses the mythological
exalted. "If deification," Tertullian had argued, "is a reward of merit. why
material furnished him by Isidore and his predecessors, Orosius and St. Je-
was Socrates not deified for his wisdom, Aristides for his justice, Demosthenes
rome, into a series of short chapters, or incidenliae. The parallelism between
for his eloquence?" Tertullian, in his irony, spoke better than he knew : the
the two narratives, sacred and profane, is presented with curious precision :
Middle Ages were disposed to remedy this injustice. In his superstitious zeal,
clearly, the figures from the world of Fable, though of different lineage, have
med!-eval man was ready to venerate sages whom antiquity itself had not
now achieved a basis of strict equality with the Biblical characters. In both
placed among the immortals.
groups, Peter recognizes men of superior stature, geniuses endowed with pro-
found and mysterious wisdom. Zoroaster invented magic and inscribed the *
Seven Arts on four columns (Gen. XXXIX); Isis taught the Egyptians the let·
As WE have said, the pagan gods were no longer thought to have pur1oincd
the magic gifts they were believed to possesa from the treasury of Christian
ters of the alphabet and showed them how to write (Lxx); Minerva taught sev·
eral arts, in particular that of weaving (LXXVI); Prometheus, renowned for wisdom. But might they not have inherited their power from the demons, with
whom the first apologists often sought to identify them? "
his wisdom, is reputed to have created men, either because he instructed the
ignorant or perhaps because he fabricated automata. All these mighty spirits In the tradition with which we are concerned, it might be possible to find
are worthy of veneration, exactly as are the patriarchs, and for the same rea- trac of this idea--distant recollections, but nothing more. Neither Isidore
sons: they have been the guides and teachers of humanity, and together stand nor his followers attribute a demonic character to the genius, the supernatu-
as the common ancestors of civilization. ral gilts which have brought abQut the elevation of great men to the rank of
This tendency of the Middle Ages to estahlish parallels between pagan gods.'" True, Apollo and Mercury h ve taken on the look of magicians, but
wisdom and the wisdom of the Bible has long been recognized. It came clearly this is no reason for regarding them with suspicion. They are good magicians,
to light when study was first undenaken of the representations on cathedral benevolent sorcerers. Humanity has much to thank them for.
portals " associating Sibyls and Prophets, and of the legend of VirgiL whom That this was indeed the common attitude in the Middle Ages can be
the medieval imagination had transformed into a kind of sorcerer or mage.'" clear ly seen in the works of popularization. Not only did the Historia of Peter
11 Peter Comeotor may hoe bad in Iii. 1wt
The Sibyls and the author of the Fourth Eclogue, it i true, had bad intuitive Poilu, etc., ""' wdumonia." Cf. SL Angus-
tho lJc incr•dibillb~ ( Btpl clrla,.,.• ) o( Pa- title, EruJ17'1Jdo iA PSIIilruu. Pulm 96 (PL,
laapbatlll, whlch he dte. (Judg,., n>, and XUVI, 1231...32), -.e 5: "'nmeo di.i KeDtium
13Yearly editiooa from 1473 to 1526; another pp. ~- wbic:h would llill forth.er ha"" otrengthe~~ed daemonia" ("All the god• or the heathen ....
edition, Venice. 1729. Huet quot"" the work; L5 See Compuetti, VirKiJW ntl mdi.«rx> (new hit appr«iatlQ!l o( lhe alomenl or prodigy in demou") .
Richard Simon refers to its lasting success. eeL, Florence. 1937) ; J. Weblter Spargo, pagu acl en~ 11
We ahall atudy the tradition o( the dem.o aic
"See Emile Mile, L'Arl reli~u.x du. xme Vir&il. Uu Necromancer (1934) , chap. ii: "The " See, for xamplc, T6tuJllan, D• •pecl4cu.lu, in the Dest chapter in connection with utrol-
siecle en France (6th ed., Paris, 1925), p. Taliamanlc Art.." PL. I, I, 641 &lid 648: V011111, Bacchua, C..tor, ogy.
339; L'Ar1 reli~u.x de fa fin du. moyen qe,
18 THE SURVIVAL OF THE PAGAN GODS
T HE HISTOR IC AL T R ADI T ION 19
Comestor, which had come into general use as a textbook (a veritable "me-
Puis vim chevalerie a Rome
mento of the history of religions," as Alphandery calls it), mold generations Et de la clergie la some
of readers in orthodox euhemerist views and furnish Vincent of Beauvais Qui ore est en France venue
with all the essentials of what he wrote of the gods in the Speculum historiale;
it also directly or indirectly inspired the compilations in vulgar tongues This idea reappears insistently in the popular encyclopedias of the thir-
which brought science within reach of the layman.'" These books go even far· teenth century." And among the "chevaliers" and "clercs," whose glorious
ther in the same direction. They proclaim the gratitude of humanity toward tradition the French are so proud of continuing, appea r valiant captains at
the men of genius whom antiquity had made into gods. The Book of the times called Alexander or Caesar, but at others Hercules or Jason, and great
Treasure of Brunetto Latini places Hercules side by side with Moses, Solon, inventors, now known as Ptolemy or Aristotle, and again as Mercury or
Lycurgus, Numa Pompilius, and the Greek king Phoroneus as among the first Prometheus.
legislators, who by instituting codes of law saved the nations of men from the *
ruin to which their own original frailty and impurity would have condemned As WE have just seen, the French of the thirteenth century believed that the
them."' heritage of antiquity was theirs by special right; other peoples had long ad·
Our medieval compilers feel themselves indebted to all these great men; vanced the same claim. In the fifth century, the Spaniard, Paulus Orosius,
they also feel themselves their heirs. For civilization is a treasure which has boasts of being a genuine Roman; later, a Gregory of Tours, an Isidore of
been handed down through the centuries; and as no further distinction is Seville, were to see themselves as belonging to peoples especially privileged
made between the sacred and profane precursors of Christianity who first in comparison with "barbarian" stock. But this pride of descent, which is
forged that treasure, it is at last possible for medieval man unreservedly and hardly ever absent from the learned writings of the Middle Ages, brings with
even with pride to claim the heritage of antiquity. In the twelfth century, cul· it one curious consequence : in order to justify his pretentions, the scholar
tivated men were already aware of the Greco-Roman origins ·of their cul- turns to the fabled past of antiquity for supporting witnesses, for ancestors
ture," and Chrestien de Troyes affirms the idea that France has garnered the and begetters. Thus originate those "ethnogenic" fables (as Gaston Paris
patrimony of antique culture and virtue: called them) which name a hero or demigod as ancestor of a whole people.
Grece ot de chevalerie One such fable, which proved to be a particularly hardy one, is famed
Le premier los et de clergie above all-that according to which the Franks were descendants of the Trojan
19
See P. Meyer, "Leo Premieres CompilatiODA
fran~ d'histoire ancienne," Romani4, zn
(1885), pp. 38-SL Cf., at a much later date,
early in the fourteenth century, the "hiotorical"
interpretations found in a poem of euenti&lly
("Now I will tell you how lahle can be made
to agree wWt. /WJ.ory.")
., See C. V. Laqloia, L4 Co11111JisJ41Ke tk ltJ
114U&re el du moNk "" moym <I.J<, in Ukm. lA
I'i.e"" Frtlll« "" moyen l#f<, 111 (PaN, 1927) ,
J ~ as the Romans were of the Trojan Aeneas. This legend was an inven-
ti.on of Merovingian scholars,.. but it should not be dismissed as a mere fan-
tasy of learned minds. It was taken seriously as genealogy, and became a
"edifying" character, the Ouik JMra/Ui (1, pp. 341-342.
vv. 859 ff. and vv. 1101 f.) 11 See E. Faral, RtcloucMJ sur kr sourctt "veritable form of ethnic consciousness." 25 Its plausibility was enhanced by
/upikr jul. selon r esu.ire laziius des conkS e l "'""""' cour/.t>U ( Paria,
Roi.J tk Crek, <I fesoil IJCcroire 1913) , pp. 398 ff. The idea of the eontinuity
the apocryphal journals of the siege of Troy by the "Cretan" Dictys and the
Par farl tk son enclumkmenl ~ the anc:ieot and eontemporary worlda "Phrygian" Dares, which had been popular ever since the Greek decadence:
Qu'il ert Deru .•• ia thus ....., not to hne bem peculiar to the 22
("Jupiter, according to hiotory, wu King of Renaiuance humaniata. Cf~ on tb.ia point, the CU,t.s (ed. W. Foenter), vv. 32 ff. (" Gretce u For example, in L ·l~e du moNk. See
Crete, and by hio magic art caused it to be contro..:ny between Bremond and Hauter, in bad once the leadenhip in chivalry and Langloia, op. cil. p. 73.
believed that he wu God.") Bremond, Hutoire liubaire du unlinunl learning; then chivalry puaed to Rome to- u The earliest mdence of tb.ia lqend is met
Or ooUJ dirai comenl la faMe r~u rn FT~J~~Ce, YOl 1: L'Humani1TM gether with the oum of learning, which now with in the C~ue rle Fridqaire; the
Peal .., . ar esu.ire IJCOTd4bk" . • • .u.or, chap. i, eec:tloa il, ..p. pp. 4-6.. hu come to France.") Liber historiae FrtJIICoram adda new elementa.
21 Alphand&y, op. cil., p. 8.
20 THE SURVIVAL OF THE PAGAN GODS THE HISTORICAL TRA DITIO N 21
with their appearance of exact documentation they, as it were, secularized the assure their survival. They are still given a place in history : not only do the
marvels of antiquity and gave them the color of true history. "These proces- early chronicles, printed and many times reissued, retain their full authority,
verbaux of gods and heroes presented them in such a light that they seemed but the fifteenth-century chroniclers follow their lead, and never fail to de-
more convincingly historical than Charlemagne, Roland, or Oliver• . . . " vote one or more chapters to the pagan divinities. This is true of the Rudi-
But even when thus humanized, and brought near enough to look like prob- menlum noviciorum (1475) , the Fasciculus temporum (1475) , and the Mer
able ancestors, these figures lost none of their mythical prestige; mortals who des hystoires ( 1488) ; also of Annius of Viterbo, the pseudo commentator on
18
claimed relationship with them on historical grounds could boast of their su- Berosus, and J acopo da Bergamo.
pernatural origin. Did not the Trojan Aeneas, "de' Romani il gentil seme," '" The last-named, for example, in his Supplemenlum chronicarum,.,.
leave a quasi-divine imprint upon the whole race of his descendants? studies the origin and the pedigrees of the gods (Bk. 111, f. 12). Jupiter is a
The exceptional popularity enjoyed by the legend of Troy in the Middle king who has been worshipped under that name because of his resemblance to
Ages was therefore not due exclusively to the interest of the romantic narra- the planet Jupiter ; other kings have borne the same name, notably the king of
tive in itself; the Roman de Troie of Benoit de Sainte-Maure contained a Candia, a son of Saturn-who is, of course, historical, as are Ops, Caelus,
30
"sort of mythical substratum" where the medieval listener or reader could Uranus, Vesta, etc: Then Semiramis is dealt with, and Lot and Isaac : but a
more or less consciously detect "something of his moral genealogy." little later (f. 15, rand v) the gods reappear-Cybele, Pallas, the Sun, Diana.
This, then, is one of the effects of euhemerism in the Middle Ages: myth- Next we pass to Jacob, Leah, and Rachel, and to the monarchs of Assyria;
ological figures are no longer presented as common benefactors of humanity. then come Ceres and Isis (f. 16, 17 r) ; and after a paragraph devoted to
They are the patrons of this or that people, 2 ' the parent stem from which the Joseph, we meet Apollo, Bacchus, Vulcan, Apis, and Osiris. As in Peter Co-
race has issued and from which it derives its glory. mestor, mythology alternates with sacred history. It is of interest to note also
that this compilation by Jacopo da Bergamo includes additional chapters on
* the Sibyls and on the Trojan war, a geographical section containing a list of
IN THIS regard no break is discernible between the Middle Ages and the Ren- all cities famed since the beginning of time, and, last of all, a contemporary
aissance; the same considerations which have protected the gods continue to history.
"Dante, Inferno, XX'/1, 60 ("of Romans the
noble seed") .-In addition to the Romuluo
story and the legend of Troj(lll descent, Rome
could be given.
sec-
Cf. a.l110 the legend of Hereulet as
tor o.nd ll)"mbol of Flon:nce:1rom au; til of
The sixteenth century is in this respect a repetition of the fifteenth: the
Promptuaire of Guillaume Rouille ( Promptuarium iconum insigniorum a
has other and purely mythological origins. l'ke dsbcwah etfltdij be appean on the seals
In his Ditwmondo, Fazio degli Uberti relat"' of t.he Sigooria with the l•r;end : "Herculea saeculo hominum [ 1553] ), the World Chronicle of Antoine du Verdier
that Janus was the first king of the Latiru; clava domat Fiorenlia pravaH (oee Muntz, (Prosopographie ou Description des personnes, patriarches, prophktes, dieu:x
then carne Saturn and his sons, "Iddii nomati Lu Priwrsturs ck U. Rtruzi.r.Jan<e [1882),
in terra," who civilized Italy. Cf. supra, p. 12. p. 48). Tradition would have it, on the other des genlils, roys, consuls, princes, grands capitaines, dues, philosophes; ora-
-See A. Graf, R oma nella memoria e n.He hand, that the patron of pagan Florence wu
immaginazioni del medioevo (1882 ). Man. a oupposed otalue of whom u lo be teurs, poetes, juriconsultes et invenleurs de plusieurs arts, avec les effigies
27
Or even of this or that city: medieval ochol· seen in the Middle Aget near the Ponte
ars did their utmost to prove that their citie.. Vecchio (Dante, l nfemo, m, 143-150). It d'au.cuns d'iceu:x ..• [1 573])", and the compilation by Eilhardus Lubinus
had been named for a hero or demigod. Ar;,- wu believed by e<) me tbal th~ fortunes of the (Fax poetica sive geneawgia et res gestae deorum genlilium, virorum, regum,
rording to Flodoard (PL, cxxxv, 28 ), Rheims city were intimately bound up with thio
Commenl~ia f ralris Joannis Annii : . : ·~-
10 10
was founded by Remus ; Sigebert de Gem- •tatue (R. Oavid..,bn, Storio; di Firerue, n, Similarly, Jacopo da Bergamo distinguiohes
bloux (PL, ctx, 717) held that Metz "'"" pp. 1156 11.)-The Florence r.to.lue il actually pu optrCJ d~verJorum auctorwn de antJ.qwtall· several different Minervas, etc. Io order to
founded by one Melius, "who lived under of the groUp of Patroclus and Mon..lauo from bas lo~uenlWm confecw ... (Rome, 1498). make clear these mythological genealogies, he
1ulius ea.,...," and whose name he had read which the Roman Paoquino wu dertn:d. '"y~ce (1483) ; our references are to the has recouf!e to Boccaocio'a Geneai<>gio; deorum,
upon an ancient otone. Other oimilar example~ edition of 1485. of which we shall have much to aay later.
22 THE SURVIVAL OF THE PAGAN GODS THE HI STORICAL TRADI TION 23

et Caesarum Romanorum [1598] ), show us gods and heroes, in an appar- Thus the Renaissance only confirmed the right of the ancient gods--
ently secure historical framework, among patriarchs, philosophers, and those geniuses responsible fo r our civilization-to the gratitude of the human
Caesars.

*
THUS THE EXISTENCE of the gods continues to be sanctioned on historical
grounds; furthermore, as in the Middle Ages, there is a disposition to regard
them as the forerunners of civilization. This tendency is alread y very evident
in Jacopo da Bergamo. Minerva, he says, was the first woman to understand
the art of working in wool (f. 15) ; Chi ron was the inventor of medicine
(f. 18, r), Hermes Trismegistus the first astronomer (f. 21, r), Mercury the
first musician (f. 20, v) . Prometheus taught men to make fire and to wear
rings (f. 19, r); Atlas taught the Greeks astrology (ibid.). Apollo, Aescula-
pius, etc., are placed in a section entitled "Viri disciplinis excellentes"; other
gods, like Faunus, Mars, etc., appear under the heading: " Viri doctrinis
excellentes."
Even more typical, from the same point of view, is the De inventoribus
of Polydore Virgil.'" In the preface, already present in the first ( 1499) edi-
tion, we find first a declaration of euhemeristic belief: "And whatsoever
things may have been attributed by us to Saturn, Jove, Neptune, Dionysus,
Apollo, Aesculapius, Ceres, Vulcan, and to such others as have the name of
gods, we have thus attributed to them as to mortal men, and not as to gods,
even though we still call them by that name." After this declaration, which
he obviously thinks should protect him from any quibbling on the part of the
ecclesiastical authorities, Polydote does not hesitate to salute each god as an
1. Caelus and his descendal!ts
innovator: Hermes Trismegistus established time divisions (u, 5); from
Bacchus, man learned how to make wine ( m, 3) ; Venus taught the courtesans race. It is no exaggeration to say that the Renaissance even restored them to
their art (III, 17); Mercury, according to Diodorus and Cicero, taught the their place in heaven: "Shouldst thou follow in the footsteps of David,"
alphabet to the Egyptians (I, 6) . Pliny attributes man's knowledge of the wrote Zwingli to Francis I in 1531," "thou wilt one day see God Himself;
heavenly bodies to Jupiter Belus ; Diodorus, to Mercury (I, 17) . and near to Him thou mayest hope to see Adam, Abel, Enoch, Paul, Hercules,
st Polidoro Virgilio da. Urb ino, De rerum in.ven- upon the Index.
Theseus, Socrates, the Catos, the Scipios.
toribus. The first edition (Venice, 1499) con- On a copy of the De rer. in~nt. with
sisted of only three books, later increa.ed to
eight in tbe Baad edition of 1521. In spite of
annotation• by Rabelais, see Perral, "Le
Polydore Virgile de Rabelais," Hu11UJili.Jme
*
12
all his precautions, Polydore's work. was put et Renaissance, XI (1949), pp. 167-204.. Chri.Jtianae fidei brevis et clara expositi.o.
24! THE S URVIVAL OF THE PAGA N GODS HISTORICAL TRAD I TION 25
FINALLY, we have noted during the Middle Ages a strange phenomenon-a between the sixty-three sovereigns of his own line and the most fabu lous
whole people claiming a mythological hero as ancestor, choosing him, as it antiquity.
were, for their progenitor and patron. This phenomenon persists into the Princely pretensions of this sort, indeed, are seldom glimpsed before
Renaissance, even taking on new and striking forms. the end of the Middle Ages. In 1390, however, Jacques de Guise wrote a uni-
The legend of the Trojan origin of the Franks was, as is well known, ex- versal chronicle which bore this revealing title : Ann.ales de l'histoire des il-
ploited by Jean Le Maire de Belges, in his Illustrations de Gaule et singu- lustres princes de Hainaut, depuis le commencement du monde. 31 Later, the
larites de Troie, which attained immense popularity. One reason for this suc- dukes of Burgundy were to pride themselves on their descent from a demi-
cess was that "nearly every nation could find there, as if in an archival set- god; the Trojan legends were in great favor at thei r court- and that as early
ting, its most ancient titles of nobility. Only the Germans and French could as the fourteenth century.•• Late in the fifteenth, a Recueil des histoires de
boast undisputed descent from Hector himself, but others-Bretons, Flem- Troyes (1464) was being read there, in which Hercules is given unwonted
ings, Scandinavians, Normans, Italians, and Spaniards-also found ways of prominence. The author, Raoul Lefevre, proposes to deal with his subject in
asserting their own relationship with him, to justify either their pride or their three books, the second of which is to treat of the Labors of Hercules, and to
ambition." " Now Le Maire distributed the names of the various Trojan he- show that he twice destroyed the city of Troy. Furthermore, Hercules ap-
roes, like spoils of war, among these claimants: the Bretons were said tope peared in the tapestries decorating the hall where the Banquet of the Pheas-
descendants of Brutus, first king of Brittany; the Spaniards of Hesperus, the ant Oath was held (Lille, 1454~ , and in a pantomime performed at the wed-
Italians of Italus, the men of Brabant of Brabo, the Tuscans of Tuscus, and ding festivities of Charles the Bold and Margaret of York. Why this special
the Burgundians of Hercules the Great of Libya."' emphasis upon Hercules? It is due to his reputed place as founder of the dy-
Let us further note that Jean Le Maire greatly strengthens the divine nasty. Olivier de Ia Marche relates in his Memoires tha~es, journeying
element in the legend of Troy. The gods are given a preponderant role in his long ago into Spain, passed through the land of Burgun<!J and there met a
historico-mythological romance--something which we do not find in Dictys, lady of great beauty {nd noble lineage, Alise by name. They were wed, and
Dares, or Benoit de Sainte-Maure." from their union issued the line of Burgundian princes.
Ronsard's Franciade was less successful than the Illustrations; the fail- Another mythological hero, Jason, was well known at the Burgundian
ure and neglect which were to be the lot of this enthusiastically anticipated court : Philip the Good put h%1£ under his aegis when, in 1430, he
epic are well known. But the Franciade reveals a new tendency which is par- founded the Order of the Golde eece. To he sure, a Biblical hero, Gideon,
ticularly appropriate to the Renaissance: it is r:;"spired not by " ethnic ;;n. seconded Jason in his functions as patron of the order. But this very ~r­
· sciousness" but by dynastic pride. Charles IX personally supervised the com- ship, bringing out as it does the parallelism between sacred and profane,
position of the poem,"" in his concern to have it establish a direct connection
" Arur<Jk• hUrorille i.llu.striu.m principum seventeen volumes destined to disseminate the
33 Tbibaut, Marguerite d' AUlriche et J ean I.e dom comes to them from the Thracian Or· Harwnille ab i.aitW rorum u.q"" ad annum legend. See Doutrepont, "La litterature fran-
Maire de Belges, pp. 171-172. pheus ( Bk. vu) .-Etienne Pasquier, iii his Chruri 1390; partially translated into French ~aise a Ia oour des dues de Bourgogne,"
•• See G. Doutrcpont, ] t an Le17Ulire de B<lges R<cherches de Ia Franc<, and Oaude Faucbet, by Jean Wauquelin around 1445, and pub- Societe d'Emulation de Bruges, Melanges, r
et Ia R<naissance, pp. 27~274. Goropius Be- in his Antif[.Ute• galJioise• et fran~ai&e•, were l.iobed by E. Sackur, MGH, Scripll>re., xxx, (1908) . It should be reca!Jed that the lllu.-
canus (Jean Becan van Gorp) , in his Origims at last to dispose of the Trojan legend. pt. 1 0896) . ( Cf. cod. 9242 of the Bibliothe- tralU>ru of Jean Le Maire were published
Antwrrpillna< (1569) , invents a still more ao See Doutrepont, op. cit~ p. 387. que Royale, Brussels; oee fig. 6.) from 1509 to 1513-that is to say, long after
extravagant ancestry for the Flemings. They M See Ronsa.rd'a "Avis au lecteur." 88 The library of Philip the Good contained
the last duke of Burgundy bad disappeared
are Cimmerians, sons of Japheth; their wis- (1477) . ,•
26 THE SURVIVAL OF THE PAGAN GODS THE HISTORICAL T RAD I TION rrt
serves admirably to illustrate the persistence of the medieval point of view.'" the form of a rotulus, is illustrated hy tables which are both genealogical and
Princely pride found ample satisfaction in these claims of mythological synoptic, and which show us the head of each person named. The firet two
sponsorship and heredity. In addition to the dukes of Burgundy and the kings
of France, should we perhaps also cite the example of ~pe Alexander VI,
who used the Borgia coat of arms as warrant for having the ceiling of
his Vatican apartments decorated with frescoes representing the story of Isis,
Osiris, and the monster Apis-unexpected antecedents, indeed, for a Chris-
tian pontiff? 391
Other comparable instances might be found in the seventeenth century.
In 1600, the Jesuits of Avignon, charged with organizing the ceremonial re·
ception given by the city to Marie de Medicis, bestowed on her royal consort
the title of Gallic Hercules ( "Hercule Gaulois"), justifying the extravagant
flattery on the following grounds: "L'illustre maison de Navarre a p ins sa
source de !'ancien Hercule, fils d'Osiris, lequel ayant ba~ et comuattuies
Comm1ens, qui etaient les trois enfants de Geryon, tyran des spagnes, et
ayant affranchi ce peuple de leur servitude, etablit en cette monarchic son fils
Hispalus, les neveux duquel succederent depuis a la couronne du royaume
de Navarre." •o
*
IcoNOGRAPHY, in tum, attests the continuity of the "euhem.eristic" tradition,
and gives striking illustration to its varied aspects. We shall limit ourselves
to a few examples.
In the first place, for visual demonstration of the insertion of the gods
into history, let us glance at a Proven~! chronicle (British iuseum, Egerton
ms. 1500) of the early fourteenth century ( after 1313) . This chronicle, in
39 See Doutrepont, op. cit., p. 147.-0n Jason Tri.omphant .. . Tt!priunte ci rentrie triont·
and Gideon, see Olivier de la Marche, Epistre phante de Ia Rorn• en Ia cite d'Avignon le
a Philippe Le Beau pour unir et cilebrer Ia 19 nov. de l'an MDC . . . ("The illustrious
noble feste de Toison d'Or. The J ason. legend bouse of Navarre issued from the ancient
was spread by Raoul Lefevre (Jason) , Mi· Hercules, son of Osiris, who, having fought 2. Biblical and pagan heroes
chant Taillevent (Le songe de Ia Toison and overcome the Lominjans, the three chil·
d'Or), and Guillaume Fillru!tre (La Touon dren of Geryon, tyrant of Spain, and havin11
d'Or) .
' 0 " See forthcoming volume of lectures by F.
freed the people of that country from their
servitude, established a. head of tbat mon-
heads naturally represent Adam and Eve (f. 3, r) ; then follow their descend-
Sax!, to be published by the W arburg lnsti· archy his son, Hispalus, whose descendants ants, oab, Shem, etc. (f. 3, v) ; next appear the profane dynasties. Here we
tut t-, London~ later succeeded to the crown of the kingdom of
' 0 Labyrinth• r&yal de CHercule Gaulois Navarre") . see, arranged in paralfel, vertical rows (f. 6, r), the rulers of th.e various
28 THE SURVIVAL OF THE PAGAN GODS THE HISTORICA L TRADITION 29
kingdoms of antiquity. In the Cretan dynasty we find Saturn, beneath Caelus
Theseus) and to 11ages; the image of Apollo (fig. 4; c£. also fig. 3, an Apollo
and above Jupiter; on the same horizontal line with Jupiter are his wife Juno,
of the tenth century belonging to the same tradition) is of particular interest
his brothers Plato, Neptune, etc. The gods are included as a matter of course in this connection. It represents Apollo the Healer :
in the historical narrative (fig. 1).
The most typical ex- • • • dieu sauveur, dieu des savants mysteres,
dieu de la vie et dieu des plantes salutaires."
ample of the tradition of the
heroes and sages that places Standing at a patient's bed-
profane and sacred history side, with his conjuring
on the same plane, is af- books and imps, he seems
forded by the famous series engaged in some terrifying
of drawings attributed to act of exorcism. He looks
Maso Finiguerra, preserved like an Oriental magician,
in the British Museum un- and in adjacent drawings
der the title of Florentine we do in fact encounter,
Picture Chronicle." Sir Sid- similarly accoutered, Hos-
ney Colvin, who had studied tanes conjuring up demons,
the drawings extensively •I and Oromasdes resuscitat-
and dated them between ing a dead person. In the
1455 and 1465, related same group appear Zoroas-
them to a Sommario, or ter, Hermes Trismegistus,
Breve historia universale, in Orpheus, Linus, and Mu-
the Biblioteca Nazionale in saeus--all the esoteric wis-
3. Apollo Medicus
Florence (Cat. XXV. IV, 565, dom of Persia, Egypt, and
Greece! • 4. Apollo as a physician
11. IV, 348). These drawings, in fact, present another illustrated world chron-
icle; they show us, after Adam and Eve, the patriarchs, Noah, Abraham, and •• " . •. Mvior God, God of learned mysteries, has left us his drawings for them, aecuted
God of life and of health-giving plants ••." in the last years of the fourteenth century•
their successors, along with "contemporary" pagan figures--Inachus, .. On the knowledge of Oriental magic and See A. Venturi, "II lihro di Giusto per Ia
the inftuence of the Cabala in fifteenth-century Cappella degli Eremitani in Padova," in Le
Cecrops, Codrus, Saturn, J upiter, etc. What is particularly notable is the Florence, see Colvin. op. cit., Introduction, Gallerk nazionali italiane, IV 0899) , pp. 345-
paragraphs VI-vn.-Cf. F. Cumont and J. 376; and, by the !!B.me author, "II libro di
parallelism established between all these great figures of the past, historical Bidez, Le• Mages Mllewe• (Paris, 1939). disegni di Giusto" (reproduced in its en-
or legendary, Jew or Gentile--Prophets and Sibyls, judges, warriors, poets, On the representation of the sages of tirety) , ibid~ v 0902) , pp. 3911[. Cf. also J.
antiquity in Renai851Ulce art, see E. Miintz, von Schlouer, #Giusto's Freske.n in Padua
and lawgivers. Especially oignificant is the prominence given to heroes (Jason, Hutoire de rart pendant Ia Ref<aU>ance, n, .. . ," /ahrb d. kunsthist. Samml. d. Allerh.
p. 125. Kai3erh~ XVII 0 896) , pp. ll-100. The minia-
Mention should also be made, among the tures of Leonardo da Besozzo (1435-1442)
" A Florentine Picture Chronicle, Being a the origituJls wilk a critical and descriptivt: illuotraton of this tradition, of Giusto da derive from Giusto's drawings.
Series of Ninety-Nine Drawings Representing text ( London, 1898). To the Mme family Padova, whooe frescoes in the church of the See also -l;a canzone delu virtu e delle
Scenes and Personages of Ancitnt Hutory, belongs the fine manuscript (jig. 2) owned by Eremitani, Padua, have diaappeared, but who uienze di Bartolomeo di Bartoli (text and
Sacred and Pro/ant ... reproduced from Sir Sidney C. CockerelL illustrations), publiahed by L. Dorez (1904) .
30 THE SURVIVAL OF THE PAGAN GODS
The parallelism between sa-
cred and profane history is further
set forth in one of the most exquisite
works of the Renaissance, the fa-
gade of the Colleoni Chapel in Ber-
gamo, where alternating bas-reliefs
represent events from the Old Tes-

-
tament and from mythology, •
I
g_unishment of Adam and the La- I

..
bors of Hercules. At approxi-
I

mately the same date, Lombard


sculptors ornamented the zone at
I
the base of the fagade of the Certosa
of Pavia with medallions which I
show Prophets side by side with em- II
perors " and gods-a strange series I
of apocryphal portraits in which •
the infant Hercules strangles ser·
pents and Judas Maccabeus wears
a Mercury cap, and which recalls
the numismatic fantasies of the 6. Dwna and her worshippers
5. Hercules slaying Cacus "prosopographies." ..
ciaDB Euclid and Pythagoras appear · Orpheus, father of poetry ; still another
Of the personages of Fable viewed expressly as inventors of arts and
of civi!Uation's early heroes and benefactors is Hercules, portrayed here as
skills we possess some celebrated images in the lowest .zone of bas-reliefs on
victor over the monster Cacus ( fig. 5). Here we have the euhemeristic tradi-
the Campanile in Florence. Not far from the first horseman and the first navi-
tion at its purest and noblest; the best commentary on these sculptures is the
gator, we recognize Daedalus, first conqueror of the air; near the mathemati-
passage in which Cicero exalts the animus divinus of the precursors of civili-
.. The motifs treated are the Creation of .. See Jupra, p. 21. Several of the Certoaa zation : "Omnes magni : etiam superiores, qui vestitum, qui tecta, qui cultum
Adam, the Creation of Eve, their Fall and reliefs, furthermore, are inspired by forged
Punishment; the Sacrifice of Abr aham ; the medals: see von Schlosser, op. cit., and our vitae, qui praesidia contra £eras invimerunt ; a quibus mansuefacti et exculti,
Combats of Hercules with Antaeus, with article, "Youth, Innocence, and Death. Some
the Cretan Bull, the Nemean Lion, and the Notes on a Medallion on the Certosa of
a necessariis artificiis ad elegantiora defluximus . . . ." 41
Lernaean Hydra (jig. 11). Pavia," Journal of the Warburg l n.titute, 1 "True., 1, 25. ("All theoe were great men ; oable bandicrafu to the finer uta. "- LCL)
tfi Chosen by reason of their connection with (l937-J8) . pp. 298-303. earlier otill the men wbo dilcovered the fruit s Hen:, again, the illustrated chronicles
Christianity. See J. von Schlosser, "Die Cf. also forthcoming volume by C. Mitchell of the earth, talmont, dwellings, an ordered would furniob many •upplementazy examples.
iiltesten Medaillen und die Antike," Jahrb. on the role of the classical coins in the Italian way of life, prot..,tion againal :wild creatureo Among tho FreDch manutoeripLO of the Biblio-
d. kunsthut. Samml. d. AUuh. Kat.erh., xvm Renaissance, to be published by the Warburg -men under wboee civi!Wng inAuence "" theque Nationale we cite cod. 301, w livru
(1897) • pp. 60-108. Institute, London. have uadually paNed on from the lndiepen· du !WtoirCJ du com.mellCIJment du JTUJnde,
32 THE SURVIVAL OF THE PAGAN GODS TH E HI S T ORICAL TRADITION 33
We have further seen that the Legend of Troy, as enlarged upon by ration presente, antique et veritable." •• In this domain, the artist will from
pseudo historians, had played a part in the "laicizing" of certain mythologi· now on be little more than an instrument made use of by some erudite cour-
cal heroes; visual imagery makes this doubly clear. In the Finiguerra draw- tier for flattering the pride of his masters.
ings Jason and Theseus are shown, and near them Paris and Troilus. Even
earlier, however, in the frescoes representing the Trojan war, painted about
1380 in the Steri at Palermo,.. the ship Argo was to be seen, with Jason, Her·
cules, Castor, and Pollux. The painter of these scenes, as Ezio Levi has shown,
~-

was merely following the text of Guido delle Colonne (Historia destructionis
Trojae [127~1287] ), which, in turn, is an adaptation of the Roman de
Troie of Benoit de Sainte-Maure. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, a
swarm of illustrated manuscripts of this romance or its derivatives present us
with images of the demigods. ••
Finally, the mythological ancestry on which the Renaissance princes so
prided themselves was of course celebrated in works of art.'" We need men·
tion here only the tapestries of the cathedral of Beauvais, where we see,
among other figures, Francus greeting the daughter of the king of the Gauls
whom he is to marry, and Jupiter, accompanied by Hercules, bringing the
alphabet of civilization to Gaul. These tapestries have their source, as Emile
Male has proved," in the Illustrations of Jean LeMaire. Le Maire sets himself
7. Rape of Deianira 8. Rape of Proserpina
up as the final arbiter of Trojan iconography: "L'histoire veritable de Ia mai·
son troyenne," he writes, "ne sera plus desormais peinte, figuree, ne patro· Later, under Henri II, the French court was to go to even further
ciniee, pour l'aornement des salles et chambres royales, sinon apres la nar- lengths, acting out literally and in all seriousness the comedy of Olympus."
Art and poetry joined forces to attest the divinity of the sovereign, his consort,.
and cod. 6362, Hutoire IUiivers<lle (figs. 7, 8). cod. F.v.!IV n. 3 (fr. 2) , de.
In the 1486 and subsequent Venetian ""In 1393, Philip the Bold had acquired from his favorite, and their entourage.
editions of the Supple7rn!ntum of Jacopo da a Pariaian tapwur two piecea depicting
Bergamo, a somewhat crude engraving shows Jason's winnillg of the Golden F1eece (J. ... In the chateau of Tanlay, the sixteenth-century residence of the Coligny-
a group of gods whom the text cites as "inven· Cuiftrey, Histaire ginirale de Ia lapuseru, Chiitillon family, a fresco .. by a pupil of Primaticcio groups a number of
tors"; the woodcuto of Wohlgemut and VoL r: U. tapweria /r~es. p. 19. These
Pleydenwuri (1493) in the Great Chronicle tapestries may have suggested to the Duke contemporary persons in th,e guise of gods and goddesses (fig. 10). There is
of Nuremberg are of interest in the aame the idea of placing b.i.mKlf under the aegis of
connection. the hero of Colchia (cf. Doutrepont, op. cil., no doubt as to the interpretation, which has been furnished us by Ronsard
48
See E. Levi and E. Gabrici; Lo Steri di p. 147). Philip the Good, · 1449, rdered in
Palermo e le 51U pitture (1932) ; E. Lm, Tou.raai eight immense tapestries Ulustratiog 02
L'Epopea medwevale nelle pilrure deJJo the history of the Golden }1..,.,., (Soil, r... Bk. I, proL 3-4; cf. 11, p. 144. ("The veri- litrerature de Cour sou. Henri II ( 1886) , 11,

~ EJJJ:::~:~·"z;·;;:~:.
Steri di Palermo (1933) . piuem• tk Tournai, pp. 24, 23J.-.235, 374, f.) . table hiotory of the House of Troy shall hence· 1
See H. GObel., ll'anduppU:he (1928) , 11:" forth he neither paioted, imaged, or advocated de Ia tour de
•• Examples are: Bibliotheque N•tion.Ue, coda.
fr. 782 and 22.552 (fig. 9 ) ; Venice, Marciana, Die romanischen Liindu, wL 1, pp. 16, 107, for the adornment of royal balls and chambers Ia Ligue au Chiteau de Tanlay," Rev.u de
cod. fr. 17; Rome, Vatican, cod. Reg. 1505; 4ll, 414, and 552, n. 101. eave in accordance with the present narrative, fart, II (1933 ), . PP· 183-184; and F. E.
Milan, Ambrosiana, cod. H 86 sup.; .Geneva, 01 L'Art rtligUw. de Ia fin du mf17en age, pp. which ia from antiquity and truthfuL") Schneegans, " A propos d'une freaque mytho-
BihL Monic., cods. fr. ~ and 72; Leningrad, MZ-346. "See E. Bourciez, Le5 Moeun polie5 et Ia logique du xvrme siecle," Humanisme d
Renai.Jsance, 11 (1935), pp. 441-444.
34 THE SURVIVAL OF THE PAGAN GODS THE HISTORICAL TRADITION 35
06
himself in a hymne celebrating the virtues of the Coligny house." The artist reproduced Raphael's Feast of the Gods on an enameled plate. Here, again,
must have taken his inspiration from this poem. Jupiter is the king, Henri II; the place of Jupiter was taken by the king, while Catherine de Medicis ap·
peared as Juno, and Diane de Poitiers as Diana."
Fetes, ballets, dramatic " eclogues," and the co-operation of all the arts
continued to support this royal apotheosis, which was to achieve dazzling con·
summation in the next century at Versailles•
.

10. The Royal. Olympus: Henri II and his court


9. Jupiter vanquishing Saturn
Mars, the Connetable de Montmorency ; Themis, the Duchess of Ferrara. As Thus, at the end of this evolution which has brought us down to the Ren·
for Mercury, aissance, we find the euhemeristic spirit as much alive as ever, still taking the
10 See Bourciez, loc. cil., pp. 176-177. The
C' est ce grand demi-dieu Cardinal de Lorraine at Anet, now in the Louvre; in the same
plate ia described and reproduced in the chateau was fonnerly a marble medallion
Rn~. arcluol. (1855), pp. 311 ff. The persons (now in the Musee de Cluny ) re presenting
In the same year that Ronsard composed these verses, Leonard Limousin represented, instead of being completely Catherine de Medicis "" Juno. See also the
.. Hymnes, 1, IV (1555). CL Le Temple de Neptune, etc.; and Hymnes, 11, 11, where Odet
costumed a f an/i4u, are shown wearing curious examples assembled by E. Wind,
plumed toques. "Studies in Allegorical Portraiture," /ourMi.
Mess•isn•ur• k Connetable et des Chasfillons, de Cbitillon appean u Herculea. •• The reader will recall the celebrated Diana of the II'Grburg lnsrilu.le, 1 ( 1937-38), pp.
where Anne reigns u Mart~, Gupard u 1381£.
36 THE SURVIVAL OF THE PAGAN GODS
two main forms which we detected at the outset. At times we have to do with II
a tribute of gratitude and veneration offered to great men; at others, with ex-
travagant adulation of worldly power. In both cases, the recipients are raised
to the rank of gods.

The Physical Tradition

HE HE A v EN L Y bodies are gods. "We must assign the same divinity


T to the stars." 1 This opinion, at the time of its formulation by Cicero,
was on the way to becoming general. For a Roman or Alexandrian of that
age, the stars were not as they are for us, "bodies infinitely remote in space,
which move according to the inflexible laws of mechanics, and whose compo-
• sition is chemically determinable." They were "divinities." •
Every mind which perceives a governing intelligence behind the move-
ment of the spheres instinctively places this divine power in heaven. • From
this it is but a step to considering the sun, moon, and stars as in themselves
divine. Among other determining factors, it was the mythological names
given to the stars-in obedience to the same instinct-which above all else
encouraged the Greeks, and after them the Romans, to take this step. No-
men, numen- the name alone was enough to lend divine personality to each
11. Hercules and the Lernaean Hydra
lumino~ body moving in the heavens, hut complete identification was
achieved whe.n that name was Hercules or Mars, that is, the name of a god
whose appearance and history were already well known. And the mythologi-
cal imagination of the Greeks, which had created gods on earth, could readily
picture them in the skies as well.
However, this identification of the gods with astral bodies, which had
been fully accomplished by the end of the pagan era, was the end product of
1 "Tribuenda est oideribl18 . . . divinitao" (De le paganisme romain," in Lt!3 Religions
lllllur. deor~ n, 15) . o.Untale1 daru I.e- paganilme romain, p. 160.
1 F. Cumont, "L'aotrologie et la magie dans ' As in Plato, Law•, x, 899 b, and Tim4eU3,
36d!L
37