Miziołek, Jerzy
Sol verus — Wrocław [u.a.], 1991

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SOL VERUS

STUDIES ON THE ICONOGRAPHY OF CHRIST
IN THE ART OF THE FIRST MILLENNIUM

Summary

That Phoebus shining with pure light

"Sees all and all things hears",

So Homer sings, he of the honeyed voice

Yet even he, with the light of his rays, too weak,

Cannot burst through

To the inmost depths of earth or ocean.

Not thus the Maker of this great universe:

Him, viewing all things from his height,

No mass of earth obstructs,

No night with black clouds thwarts.

What is, what has been, and what is to come

In one swift mental stab he sees;

Him, sińce he only all things sees,

The TRUE SUN could you cali.

Boethius, The Consolation of Philo-
sophy, Lib. V, carmen 2 (ąuoted from
Boethius ed. Loeb, 1973)

INTRODUCTION

This book deals with the representations of Christ created during the first millennium, which
were patterned on Helios/Sol iconography. Although this problem has already been discussed by
many art historians it still needs further research. The book, which is arranged in four chapters, is
a collection of essays on some chosen images rather than a monograph of the subject. The first
chapter which serves as a background for the following three, is devoted to the process of assimilation
of the pagan cult of the sun by Christianity, which resulted in a conception of Christ as the true sun in
opposition to the visible sun ąui adoratur a paganis et Manichaeis, as St. Augustine pul it. The second
chapter presents some observations on the mosaics adorning the Tomb of the Julii beneath St. Peter's
in the Vatican. Analysis is focussed on an "oriented" representation of the currus solis. The third
chapter concentrates on the representations of the Homage of the Twenty Four Elders of the
Apocalypse, who adore Christ in a clipeus emanating rays. His whole figurę with right hand raised as
in many representations of Sol Invictus, or the Lamb of God "in the Sun". These images seem to be of
"synthetic" character, i.e., they are based on different texts, not only from the Apocalypse, but also
from descriptions in the Evangelists of the Secundus Adventus. In the last chapter the symbolism of
light in the Sinai Transfiguration is examined. The symmetrically arranged rays emanating from
Christ are understood here as a symbol of the sun.

The book is supplied with an Appendix containing a selection of texts by Greek and Latin
Christian writers and by Philo of Alexandria, which are supposed to unravel the complex problem of
solar metaphors and assimilation of the pagan cult of the sun by Christianity. For technical reasons,
only Latin texts are ąuoted in their original version, with the exception of these texts by Origen which
have survived only in Latin. Readers interested in the Greek texts cited mostly in the fourth may refer
to the author's paper in the „Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes", LIII, 1990.

This book is based on a Ph. D. thesis written under the supervision of Professor Lech Kalinowski
for the Jagiellonian University, 1987, and revised during periodic research at the Warburg Institute in
the years 1988 — 1989. To Professor Kalinowski, Professor Joseph B. Trapp, Director of the Warburg
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