Hypnerotomachia Poliphili

freygeist

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This strange title sounds like are disease or something, and it is actually about sick love. There is a novel called "The Rule of Four", that features this mysterious Renaissance Book, where nobody really knows, who the author is, or when it was written. You can translate it with "Strife of Love in a Dream". This book is filled with awesome illustrations of old architecture and animals like unicorns and dragons, and has a language mix of latin, italian and sometimes greek, so its very hard to read, but there are english translations of it. This book has always fascinated me, and now of course i look at it from a different perspective.

Here is a short summary of the plot:

The book begins with Poliphilo, who is spending a restless dream filled night because his beloved, Polia, has shunned him. Poliphilo is transported into a wild forest, where he becomes lost, encounters dragons, wolves and maidens and a large variety of architectural forms. He escapes, and falls asleep once more.

He then awakens in a second dream, a dream within the first. He is taken by nymphs to meet their queen, and there he is asked to declare his love for Polia, which he does. He is then directed by two nymphs to three gates. He chooses the third, and there he discovers his beloved. They are taken by some more nymphs to a temple to be engaged. Along the way they come across five triumphal processions celebrating their union. They are then taken to the island of Cythera by barge, on which Cupid is the boatswain. On Cythera, they see another triumphal procession celebrating their union. The narrative is interrupted, and assumed by a second voice, as Polia describes Poliphilo's erotomania from her own point of view.

Poliphilo then resumes his narrative (from one-fifth of the way through the book). Polia rejects Poliphilo, but Cupid appears to her in a vision and compels her to return and kiss Poliphilo, who has fallen into a deathlike swoon at her feet. Her kiss revives him. Venus blesses their love, and Poliphilo and Polia are united at last. As Poliphilo is about to take Polia into his arms, Polia vanishes into thin air and Poliphilo wakes up.





So might Cythera be a metaphor for the old world? Is this book depicting it's architecture and culture? Here are some woodcuts:


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Now, what really caught my attention are those strange looking staffs, they are carrying:

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At first i thought, they are huge torches, and the description made by the translators says so too, but since when do you hold a torch like this?
I mean, you could practically, but something looks off to me, like the direction of the flames:

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Now these 3 pictures above show the ceremony of Venus, the descriptive text says:
Scene in the Temple of Venus. A procession of seven virgins, with solemn and measured steps approaching the altar of Love. They carry a lighted taper, a ritual book, sacred vessels, and a mitre, after the Christian manner. At the altar stand the high priestess, and Poliphilus and Polia, the latter with a lighted torch in her right hand. (left)

The torch of Polia extinguished in the altar, which resembles a fountain with its cover kept open. (middle)

And then for the picture on the right it says: Continuation of the ceremony in the temple of Venus
Now it looks like she throws the torch down the altar, but does that make any sense? Wouldn't you use a torch to light something up? It seems possible these staffs have some kind of power related to this ceremony.


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On this last picture, it does indeed look like fire, but more like its shooting out of it... Now, for those who are unfamiliar with Martin Liedkes Theory on fasces, he thinks they might be some sort of ancient sound or energy weapon/device. Now i know, it's a quite stretch, but just think about it... is this what we are seeing here? Also think about the biblical trumpets...

Sources:
Original Text
Woodcuts
 
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codis

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Some of the images remind me of Formenko's interpretation of several passages of John's Apocalypse as zodiac signs.
He quotes several contemporary pictural images (contemporary to his presumed time of creation, e.g. late 15th century).

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