Deuttung der cwo grewlichen Figuren  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

'Deuttung der cwo grewlichen Figuren' (Wittenberg, 1523) by Martin Luther and Philip Melancthon.

Alternative title: Deuttung der zwu grewlichen figuren Bapstesels zu Rom und Munchkalbs zu Freyberg in Meyssen funden

From "History of Caricature and Grotesque in Literature and Art"

The monftrous figures of animals which had amufed the fculptors and miniaturifts of an earlier period came in time to be looked upon as realities, and were not only regarded with wonder as phyfical deformities, but were objects of fuperftition, for they were believed to be fent into the world as warnings, of great revolutions and calamities. During the age preceding the Reformation, the reports of the births or difcoveries of fuch monfters were very common, and engravings of them were no doubt profitable articles of merchandife among the early book-hawkers, Two of thefe were very celebrated in the time of the Reformation, the Pope-afs and the Monk-calf, and were publilhed and re- publifhed with an explanation under the names of Luther and Melan6thon, which made them emblematical of the Papacy and of the abufes of the Romifh church, and, of courfe, prognoftications of their approaching expolure and fall. It was pretended that the Pope-afs was found dead in the river Tiber, at Rome, in the year 1496. It is reprefented in our cut No. 147, taken from an engraving pre- ferved in a very curious volume of broadfide Lutheran caricatures, in the library of the Britifh Mufeum, all belonging to the year 1545, though this defign had been publifhed many years before. The head of an afs, we are told, reprefented the pope himfelf, with his falfe and carnal do&rines. The right hand refembled the foot of an elephant, fignifying the fpiritual power of the pope, which was heavy, and (lamped down and cruftied people's people's confciences. The left hand was that of a man, fignifying the worldly power of the pope, which grafped at univerfal empire over kings and princes. The right foot was that of an ox, fignifying the fpiritual minifters of the papacy, the doctors of the church, the preachers, con- feffors, and fcholaftic theologians, and efpecially the monks and nuns, thofe who aided and fupported the pope in opprefling people's bodies and fouls. The left foot was that of a griffin, an animal which, when it once feizes its prey, never lets it efcape, and fignified the canonifts, the monfters of the pope's temporal power, who grafped people's temporal goods, and never returned them. The breaft and belly of this monfter were thofe of a woman, and fignified the papal body, the cardinals, bif- hops, priefts, monks, &c., who fpent their lives in eating, drinking, and incontinence ; and this part of the body was naked, becaufe the popim clergy were not afhamed to ex- pofe their vices to the public. The legs, arms, and neck, on the contrary, were clothed with fifties' fcales ; thefe fignified the tem- poral princes and lords, who were moftly in alliance with the papacy. The old man's head behind the monfter, meant that the papacy had become old, and was approaching its end ; and the head of a dragon, vomiting flames, which ferved for a tail, was fignificative of the great threats, the venomous horrible bulls and blafphemous writings, which the pontiff and his minifters, enraged at feeing their end approach, were launching into the world againft all who oppofed them. Thefe explanations were fupported by apt quotations from the Scriptures, and were fo efte&ive, and became fo popular, that the picture was publifhed in various fhapes, and was feen adorning the walls of the humbleii cottages. I believe it is ftill to be met with in a fimilar pofition in fome parts of Germany. It was confidered at the time to be a mafterly piece of fatire.

The picture of the Monk-calf, which is reprefented in our cut No. 148, was publifhed at the fame time, and ufually accompanies it. This monfter is faid to have been born at Freyburg, in Mifnia, and is fimply a rather coarfe emblem of the monachal character.

The volume of caricatures juft mentioned contains feveral fatires on the pope, which are all very fevere, and many of them clever. One has a movable leaf, which covers the upper part of the pifture ; when it is down, we have a reprefentation of the pope in his ceremonial robes, and over it the infcription ALEX . VI . PONT . MAX. Pope Alexander VI. was the infamous Roderic Borgia, a man ftained with all the crimes and vices which flrike moft horror into men's minds. When the leaf is raifed, another figure joins itfelf with the lower part of the former, and reprefents a papal demon, crowned, the crofs being transformed into an inftrument of infernal punifhment. This figure is reprefented in our cut No. 149.

Above it are infcribed the words EGO . SVM . PAPA, " I am the Pope." Attached to it is a page of explanation in German, in which the legend of that pope's death is given, a legend that his wicked life appeared fufficient to fan6tion. It was faid that, diftrufting the fuccefs of his intrigues to fecure the papacy for himfelf, he applied himfelf to the ftudy of the black art. and fold himfelf to the Evil One. He then alked the tempter if it were his deftiny to be pope, and received an anfwer in the affirmative. He next inquired how long he Ihould hold the papacy, but Satan returned an equivocal and deceptive anfwer, for Borgia underftood that he was to be pope fifteen years, whereas he died at the end of eleven. It is well known that Pope Alexander VI. died fuddenly and unexpectedly through accidentally drinking the poifoned wine he had prepared with his own hand for the murder of another man. --"History of Caricature and Grotesque in Literature and Art"

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