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The Sight of Sibyls 2
In the first of these two articles, I showed paintings of Christian sibyls which were made before 1650, when they fell from favour. Angelica Kauffman (1741–1807), A Sibyl (1775), oil on canvas, 125.1 x 94 cm, Private collection. Wikimedia Commons. In 1775, Angelica Kauffman painted this faithful copy of... Read more
All’s Well that Ends Well: Ariadne’s story
In Ovid’s Heroides, Ariadne is in a class of her own. She’s the only one of his heroines who not only survives, but comes out of her crisis rather well, in the end. The daughter of King Minos of Crete, her half-brother (from her mother’s extraordinary bestial relationship) was... Read more
The Face that Launched a Thousand Artists: Helen (and Paris)
After the Virgin Mary, Helen is probably the most famous and most frequently-painted woman. She is also one over whom there has been no consensus: was she abducted, seduced, or seducer? Victim or whore? Ovid’s contribution to the debate comes in a pair of imaginary letters, the first from... Read more
Jerusalem Delivered: 9 In Armida’s Garden
The crusaders led by Godfrey of Bouillon desperately need Rinaldo back if they are to resume their assault on Jerusalem. Guelph’s party, notably the knights Charles (Carlo) and Ubaldo, have gone off in his quest. But Rinaldo has been lured into a trap by the sorceress Armida, who intends... Read more
The Decameron: Cimon and Iphigenia, a tale mostly untold in paint
On the fifth day of the Decameron’s stories, Fiammetta had chosen the theme of the adventures of lovers who survived calamities or misfortunes and reached a state of happiness. The previous article in this series looked at Filomena’s story, the eight of that day, of Nastagio degli Onesti. This... Read more