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Medieval & Renaissance Manuscripts

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Miscellaneous patristic texts on Saint John Climacus and the Scala paradisi
Italy, Florence, Dec. 4, 1488
MS M.496 fol. 3r

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Within initial O, Didymus of Alexandria, nimbed, wearing hat, holds with left hand, book facing-out, indicating text with right hand. He looks up toward dove of Holy Ghost, hovering in mandorla, above the book. Rays descend from the dove to the book. Wall is in background; beyond the wall is landscape with barren and leafed trees. In left margin is pilaster decorated with ornament of classical motifs including half-figures of women holding torches or cornucopias; shell flanked by two fish; hybrid head or mask with horns, and leaf-like beard; griffins (?); garlands; coin or cameo on medallion; two sphinx. At bottom, on panel in grisaille, Marsyas, nude, arms behind him, is seated with back to tree. Small figure kneels arms extended to nude man, probably Apollo, body partially draped, holding object in left hand (Legend, Metamorphoses: Apollo flaying Marsyas). Gold rings, emblem of Matthias Corvinus of Hungary, hang from string of beads and ribbons on the pilaster.

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