Girona Beatus

Girona Beatus f. 164r, The two witnesses

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f. 164r, The two witnesses

This full-folio illustration depicts only the description of the two figures but not their power or what is to happen to them subsequently. The Gerona Beatus features several exclusive aspects: firstly, the size of the image, followed by the large horseshoe arch with plant decorative motifs on its extrados, set above the two men shown facing completely forward, standing upon trapezoidal podiums – a new aspect only appearing in Gerona– wearing garments with hoods fastened under the chin by a round fastener reminiscent of Visigothic, disk-shaped fibulas, possibly in reference to the cilices alluded to in the storia, and with a crosier in their hands –the last element exclusive to this manuscript– representing the power they received to control nature whilst preaching (Rev. 11: 6). The end of the staff held by the witness on the left, called “ELIAS” according to the legend overhead, is curved, whilst that of the one on the right, called “ENOC”, is straight. The Gerona Beatus is the only extant manuscript in stemma II to show the witnesses with such attributes, for they are usually each shown with a book symbolizing their preaching in line with the iconography of the prophet portrait, antecedents of which are to be found in the portraits of authors in Antiquity. Above them are two very ancient looking lamps each with four candlesticks flanked by two schematic trees bearing fruit, in allusion to the lamps and the olive trees mentioned in the storia and the legend at the top: “ISTI SVNT DVE OLIBE/ET DVE CANDE-/LABA”. Mention must first be made of the partial influence of the explanatio upon the images or, at least, upon the legends, because the storia makes no mention of the witnesses’ names. Beatus however, in keeping with St Jerome’s version of Victorinus of Pettau, calls one Elijah – the prophet who ascended to heaven in a chariot of fire (2 Rev. 2: 11). He seems unable to conciliate the sources about the other, however, calling him by two names: Jeremiah –according once again to Victorinus as per St Jerome– a name to be found at the end of the explanatio and used for the second witness in the legend in the only manuscript to include this identification i.e. the Vitr. 14-1 Beatus (f. 104r); and Enoch – the name most common in patristic writings and appearing in historia dicendorum. The position of the candelabras and olive trees in Gerona complies with branch IIa, since the lamps are not interspersed as in IIb.

Carlos Miranda García-Tejedor
Doctor in History
(Fragment of the Girona Beatus commentary volume)


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