Silos Beatus

Silos Beatus f. 146r, The Temple with the Ark of the Alliance and the beast arising from the abyss


f. 146r, The Temple with the Ark of the Alliance and the beast arising from the abyss

The two parts of the picture were apparently two separate illustrations originally: as is the case in the Girona Beatus, in which the beast precedes the temple. The changes in stemma II include the beast appearing within the illustration of the temple as shown, on the verso, in Morgan (f. 156v), Valcavado (f. 129v), Urgell (f. 139v) and Ferdinand I (f. 184v), but on the recto in the Silos Beatus. The illustration, usually square in shape, is divided into two parts in line with the commentary itself. The top part depicts the open temple (templum apertum) with the Ark inside, symbolizing the manifestation of Christ to the Church, penetrated by the path of prophesy. The temple is seen from two angles: from above beneath the three-lobed structure – corresponding to the apse and the arms of the cross layout. Three forward-facing human heads are set out on the keystones with the framing pilasters on the façade topped by battlements. The Ark stands out inside like a medieval relic on four legs.

The beast arises from the abyss (bestia ascendens de abisso) mentioned in relation to the death of the two witnesses and is identified by the artists with the Antichrist. The beast is depicted in different ways according to the codices: the one in the Silos Beatus having horns and a mane suggesting a lion. Its long body is supported by powerful legs ending in hooves. The end of its tail with a dotted, oval form at the end seems to come alive. It walks towards the left with its mouth open roaring loudly. The usual developed foliate motifs emerge from the right-hand corners of the frame.

The initial E[t apertum est…] is formed by two fish drawn very elegantly. It is similar to the one on f. 131r and others scattered throughout the manuscript apart from the different layout of the colours.

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