Saturday, January 31, 2009

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Vienna Dioscurides

Believe it or not, these botanical illustrations were painted in c515 CE. The manuscript, at the Austrian National Library, was made for Anicia Juliana, a daughter of the Western Roman Emperor Olybrius. It consists of 491 vellum folios, showing more than 400 pictures, mostly illustrating the De Materia Medica of Dioscurides. The one above shows a pimpernel.
We'll all pretend we don't know what this one is.
Rather ill looking violets.
Not sure what this one represents.
Anicia Juliana. HERE'S an outline of her story.
The manuscript includes a treatise on birds by someone called Dionysius. The pictures are just as amazing as the plants.

Friday, January 16, 2009


By Simon Bening

I have a feeling I'll be saying quite a bit, as time goes by. Today, though, I'm just not in the mood to babble. I'm sure you'll come to be thankful for days like that.
I've just decided to add archaeology to the mix of topics. Too many interesting things out there. Haven't been bored in decades.

Lesson Number One, Kids!

Nature isn't warm and fuzzy.


I'm a compulsive photographer, so you'll be seeing plenty of my own pictures, both good and not so good.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Droumbeag, Ireland

(Photo Credit)


From the Breviarium Grimani


Well, why not? I've been blogging for years, why shouldn't I make a cyber-sanctuary to rest and recuperate? I've earned a bit of peace, which I certainly don't find elsewhere in my online rambling.
You see, I tend to visit three radically different sorts of blogs. First, there are Catholic blogs, since I love and respect the beauty, art, and pageantry of the church. To be perfectly honest, I'm steering clear of most of them at the moment, since they seem more concerned with raising Torquemada's ghost than smelling the incense and hearing the bells.
Then there are the atheist blogs. I like them because they're willing to point out the bullshit and call it by name. Unfortunately, they often descend into a strident, adolescent tantrum tone that sounds like a mirror image of the Inquisition.
Finally, we have the Wiccan and Neo-Pagan blogs. I like them because they show the impossibility of putting God/Goddess/Plural of both into a box. The problem is that they sometimes get a bit too airy-faerie and artsy-fartsy.
Matthew Arnold said "in us clash contending forces" and I'm living proof of that. Athens and the Vatican, Stonehenge and Down House, Chartres and a quiet glade. They're all part of me and all contribute to my very eclectic muddle of beliefs. Perhaps that's why I need this blog, as a way of making them all line up in a semi-coherent system. Won't be easy, but it just might be a hell of a lot of fun.
So sit down, pour some tea and listen to me ramble. There's a caveat, though. If you want me to fully subscribe to one part of the mix and ditch the rest, don't let the door hit you on the way out. That's the sort of crap that's driven me to this hermitage and I want none of it.

From the Tacuina Sanitatis, 14th Century

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Fresh Start

WTF, Chuck! Why not?