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 Knights V Snails!

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nordmann
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PostSubject: Knights V Snails!   Fri 25 Oct 2013, 12:11

The medieval manuscripts people at the British Library recently posted a nice conundrum on their blog site. A few of them had noticed while going through Royal MS 14 VB that one of the pictures in the margins depicted a rather strange image of a medieval knight, replete with sword and shield, running hell for leather in attack against a rather surprised looking snail.

Yes, a snail!

Then it was pointed out by colleagues that this picture is not actually unique - not by a long shot. Early medieval manuscripts have margins stuffed, it seems, with just such similar depictions. Always a knight (though in one case a monkey in armour) and always up against a member of the terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusc family. Sometimes even the mollusc appears to be winning (gardeners will identify with this one immediately).

The question remains however; just what on earth is it that the snail represents - if indeed anything at all? (Maybe there really were human V mollusc jousting competitions in days of yore that just never got a mention in the records). Theories abound, almost as many theories as molluscs, but none of us are any the wiser at this remove from when their gladiatorial competency was in its heyday.

A few examples:


(the manuscript in question)


Knight v Snail II: Battle in the Margins (from the Gorleston Psalter, England (Suffolk), 1310-1324, Add MS 49622, f. 193v.


Knight v Snail III: Extreme Jousting (from Brunetto Latini's Li Livres dou Tresor, France (Picardy), c. 1315-1325, Yates Thompson MS 19, f. 65r)


Knight v Snail IV: The Snails Attack (from the Queen Mary Psalter, England, 1310-1320, Royal MS 2 B VII, f. 148r)


Knight v Snail V: Revenge of the Snail (from the Smithfield Decretals, southern France (probably Toulouse), with marginal scenes added in England (London), c. 1300-c. 1340, Royal MS 10 E IV, f. 107r)


Knight v Snail VI: The Gastropod Conqueror (from the Gorleston Psalter, England (Suffolk), 1310-1324, Add MS 49622, f. 162v)

The BL website blog showing these images as well as links to some of these beautiful manuscripts is at:
British Library Manuscipts
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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Fri 25 Oct 2013, 12:27

Dr Lillian Randall, suggested back in the 60's, that the snails, in their shells, were a parody of armoured chivalry;

http://www.gotmedieval.com/2009/07/whats-so-funny-about-knights-and-snails.html
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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Fri 25 Oct 2013, 12:51

They have also, according to the BL blog, been ascribed at various times to the Lombards, the resurrected Christ and of course "the poor". The problem with all of these interpretations is that they are not portrayed uniformly. Sometimes they're obviously bad news, sometimes apparently innocent victims and sometimes even the winners.
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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Fri 25 Oct 2013, 14:00

@nordmann wrote:
They have also, according to the BL blog, been ascribed at various times to the Lombards, the resurrected Christ and of course "the poor". The problem with all of these interpretations is that they are not portrayed uniformly. Sometimes they're obviously bad news, sometimes apparently innocent victims and sometimes even the winners.
But why should they be represented "uniformly"? Surely, if they are accepted in their contemporary mediaeval setting as being symbolic or a visual code for something ... (eg because of its slowness, the snail has traditionally been seen as a symbol of laziness and in Christian art is often the symbol of the deadly sin of sloth, but that's probably just the start of it's symbolism) .... then they, snails, and whatever they represent, become fair game for a multitude of visual jokes, puns, parodies and satire ... No?


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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Fri 25 Oct 2013, 14:03

But always being attacked by a dismounted knight? That bit remains uniform.

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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Fri 25 Oct 2013, 14:14

@nordmann wrote:
But always being attacked by a dismounted knight? That bit remains uniform.

Always?

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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Fri 25 Oct 2013, 14:41

Ah, but if you had a Shetland pony that could balance on twigs you'd use it too! Can't be too many of them.
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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Fri 25 Oct 2013, 14:42

I wonder if it's a biblical thing? A snail is mentioned in Psalm 58. Here the psalmist, who is rather unkindly praying for the punishment/destruction of the ungodly, hopes that the wicked will simply disappear or otherwise be utterly put to rout.

As a snail which melteth, let every one of them pass away...

I wonder if snails crop up in medieval literature too? I can't think of any examples at all - I don't think Malory did a Morte de Gary. Does Chaucer mention snails v. knights anywhere? I don't think he does. Shakespeare only mentions snails eight times, and then only the usual stuff about them creeping about and retreating into shelly caves etc. No mention of belligerent snails engaging in mortal combat.

There's a reference in Gammer Gurton's Garland - quite late (1784) - but there it's tailors, not knights, who are out looking for a scrap with a mollusc:

Four and twenty tailors went to kill a snail,
The best man among them durst not touch her tail.
She put out her horns like a little Kyloe cow,
Run, tailors, run, or she'll kill you all e'en now.


I think John Bunyan wrote a poem about a snail - will try and find it.


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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Fri 25 Oct 2013, 15:04

Bunyan's snail is female and not at all wicked. It's a nice poem.

Upon A Snail

She goes but softly, but she goeth sure,
She stumbles not, as stronger creatures do.
Her journey's shorter, so she may endure
Better than they which do much farther go.
She makes no noise, but stilly seizeth on
The flower or herb appointed for her food,
The which she quietly doth feed upon
While others range and glare, but find no good.
And though she doth but very softly go,
However, 'tis not fast nor slow, but sure;
And certainly they that do travel so,
The prize they do aim at they do procure.

Comparison.

Although they seem not much to stir, less go,
For Christ that hunger, or from wrath that flee,
Yet what they seek for quickly they come to,
Though it doth seem the farthest off to be.
One act of faith doth bring them to that flower
They so long for, that they may eat and live,
Which, to attain, is not in others power,
Though for it a king's ransom they would give.
Then let none faint, nor be at all dismayed
That life by Christ do seek, they shall not fail
To have it; let them nothing be afraid;
The herb and flower are eaten by the snail.

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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Fri 25 Oct 2013, 15:13

This is probably irrelevant to Nord's OP, but I note that snails/escargots are rather rare in heraldry ... and where they do occur they are usually described as representing "deliberation and perseverance" rather than "laziness and sloth".

But interestingly, at least to me anyway, they do feature on the municipal coats-of-arms of several towns/villages in the French Pyrénées. It's certainly not a common symbol but there do seem to be rather more municipal heraldic snails here than elsewhere in either France or Britain:

eg. the arms of the town of Caudéron:


Laméac:


Saléchan:



.... and as I've said on another thread, snails in the Pyrenees are mostly viewed, neither as lazy and slow, nor careful and thoughtful .... but just as food!
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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Fri 25 Oct 2013, 15:23

Some more here.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Snails_in_heraldry


No nasty-looking molluscs rearing up, though (three snails rampant?) They all look pretty sedate to me - if not positively docile.

I'm trying to think of a snail motto now.
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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Fri 25 Oct 2013, 15:33

@Temperance wrote:

They all look pretty sedate to me - if not positively docile.

If not actually dead!

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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Fri 25 Oct 2013, 15:39

@Meles meles wrote:
@Temperance wrote:

They all look pretty sedate to me - if not positively docile.

If not actually dead!

He's been on the beer, that one.


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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Fri 25 Oct 2013, 15:42

Or has he been on the local hooch made in the rustic still depicted below the sozzled snails in the arms of Laméac?

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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Fri 25 Oct 2013, 15:54

@Temperance wrote:


He's been on the beer, that one.


Absolutely Legless;

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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Fri 25 Oct 2013, 19:09

@Triceratops wrote:

Absolutely Legless...

Indeed.

And the motto of MM's sozzled snails is surely taken from Seneca (the Elder): "Bibamus, moriendum est".

However, mes amis, in an effort to be sensible again - Psalm 58 mentioned here:

For Digital Medievalist, Lisa Spangenberg floated another idea. She says that “the armored snail fighting the armored knight is a reminder of the inevitability of death,” a sentiment captured in Psalm 58 of the bible: “Like a snail that melteth away into slime, they shall be taken away; like a dead-born child, they shall not see the sun.”
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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Fri 25 Oct 2013, 20:13

I wonder if the snail is not just some sort of medieaval monastic in-joke. The snail was supposed to represent sloth/laziness, and it tends to appear not in mainstream allegorical illustrations but in the marginella: the little space-filling doodles in the margins. Is it maybe then just an in-joke of the bored, doodling copiest fighting a losing battle against the knight of authority, ie the Master Scrivener? Is the snail then not just a medieaval equivalent of, say, the Chad?

I've also found some other snails, all fairly belligerant, but not in the classic snail vs knight mode:

a snail confronts a sword-wielding rabbit:



and more bizarrely - unless perhaps you're just a bored monk fed up with copying the same text day in, day out for months on end - a joust between a dog mounted on a rabbit and another rabbit mounted on a snail, and the snail has a human head to boot!:



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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Fri 25 Oct 2013, 20:45

I've found Dr Randall's article 'The Snail in Gothic Marginal Warfare' (in JSTOR if you have access http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/2852357?uid=3738032&uid=2&uid=4&sid=21102812706921 ). 

There's a brief resume of the main points of her article here 
http://shkrobius.livejournal.com/66433.html

and one for you MM here http://www.gireaud.net/files/histoire_escargot_midi_france.pdf which may shed light on the snails on town arms.
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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Sat 26 Oct 2013, 00:01

Obviously they just wanted to see them slugging it out.
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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Sat 26 Oct 2013, 13:55

I have been looking for snails in stained glass windows and wood carvings. No success.

But I have found a couple of nice snails in art. This one, in Carlo Crivelli's Madonna with Saints Francis and Sebastian, is heading for Saint Francis's foot:






But I prefer the very determined-looking mollusc in Francesco del Coss's Annunciation. He rather steals the show. One's eye is drawn to him rather than to the Virgin or to the Archangel - or to the Holy GHost for that matter (who is apparently the dove hovering up in the sky). The Holy Ghost does seem to be heading for the snail (see note below). I hope he's not going to eat him.




It seems that this snail has caused endless debate in artistic circles, with lame attempts to suggest why the creature might be an attribute of the Virgin Mary. (In the medieval mind it was a symbol of humility, demonstrated by the withdrawal of its horns, though in this respect Cossa's snail is anything but humble.)  
   In a lengthy but fascinating chapter in a book called On n’y voit rien the art historian Daniel Arasse looks at the structure of the painting. God on high and the snail below have a similar shape, and give the picture a sense of balance. In fact, the dove of the Holy Spirit seems to be on a trajectory towards the snail rather than the Virgin Mary. Try putting your finger over the snail and the picture does indeed look unbalanced.

   




.

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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Sat 26 Oct 2013, 14:19

Re: Carlo Crivelli's Madonna with Saints Francis and Sebastian,

I like the snail .... but I really do NOT like St Francis' foot ... it looks like over-ripe pea-pods just about to drop off the stem!

And I didn't know that about the snail being a symbol for humility. Interesting.

By the way ... as well as jousting snails it seems that belligerent axe-wielding rabbits (see above), and ambidextrous trumpeters who can blow their intruments from their own or other people's bottoms, also seem inordinately common in the marginalia of medieaval manuscripts:



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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Sat 26 Oct 2013, 15:03

@Temperance wrote:
I wonder if it's a biblical thing? A snail is mentioned in Psalm 58. Here the psalmist, who is rather unkindly praying for the punishment/destruction of the ungodly, hopes that the wicked will simply disappear or otherwise be utterly put to rout.

As a snail which melteth, let every one of them pass away... 
Biblically I'm rather reminded of David and Goliath ... and so after your comment about the snail denoting humility, might not the snail versus knight motif be an allegory for 'humility versus pride'?
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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Sat 26 Oct 2013, 17:38

Hi MM - yes, le pied de Saint Francis does look a tad unsavoury, doesn't it?

Humility v. pride does make sense - although your idea about bored young monks simply doodling does too.
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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Sun 27 Oct 2013, 10:25

In what other context is pride represented by a rampaging knight? I don't get that one.

Nor do I go along with bored adolescent scribes sticking naughty symbolism into margins. That is not the way these manuscripts were commissioned, executed and then redacted/revised/checked prior to point of delivery. In particular the first example cited above, the list of monarchs, would appear to have been a commission for payment intended for private ownership. Its provenance can be traced back to the First Baron Lumley in the early 16th century, however it appears from other references to have been a part of a royal collection prior to this, later gifted by Mary to the Lumleys, and its subject matter would support the theory that it was specifically produced for sale to a high-ranking official of the state, if not the highest. The likelihood of an adolescent's "doodles" being allowed to survive would be minimal to non-existent.

Marginal decoration was by no means incidental and at the artist's discretion. It represented a visual  expression of the manuscript's theme (or themes) and was as subject to rigorous checking as the script. In that context therefore we must assume that this image wasn't something slipped in but something in keeping with that which had been commissioned.
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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Sun 27 Oct 2013, 10:53

@nordmann wrote:

Marginal decoration was by no means incidental and at the artist's discretion. It represented a visual  expression of the manuscript's theme (or themes) and was as subject to rigorous checking as the script. In that context therefore we must assume that this image wasn't something slipped in but something in keeping with that which had been commissioned.
Indeed, but as you've said these images of knights v snails adorn many different types of manuscript. Thus, if they are not a form of in-joke, they should represent some sort of "eternal" truth or theme ... such as, humility v pride, although I agree I don't quite see why a charging knight should be pride.


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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Sun 27 Oct 2013, 10:54

@nordmann wrote:
In what other context is pride represented by a rampaging knight? I don't get that one.


Points taken re adolescent doodling.

Re knights - the armour perhaps was tarnished? Last few decades have seen revised - and sometimes bewildering -  opinions of Chaucer's "verray, parfit. gentil knight." Some interesting stuff in this review of Terry Jones' Chaucer's Knight: Portrait of a Medieval Mercenary. (Alas, only the first part of the review unless you register.)

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v02/n07/gabriel-josipovici/imperfect-knight


Jones began to read what historians had to say about the various battles in which the knight is supposed to have fought, and he gradually became convinced that the conventional account of him as one of the few pilgrims to be presented non-ironically, the perfect representative of one of the three great orders (commons, clergy, knights) into which medieval theorists divided society, was simply wrong. The Knight was in fact one of the new breed of ruthless mercenaries emerging in the later 14th century, men like Sir John Hawkwood, the leader of the legendary White Company, whose monument can still be seen in the Duomo in Florence next to Dante’s, who hired themselves out to petty tyrants and brought terror and destruction wherever they went. Moreover, Jones argues, Chaucer’s audience would have recognised this right away: it is only we who have lost the ability to read the clues Chaucer lays before us.

If Jones is right, perhaps the snail does represent the humble poor, valiantly standing up to the arrogant - and utterly ruthless - nouveau knightly class?

Another tantalising morsel here from JSTOR:

http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/25094027?uid=3738032&uid=2129&uid=2&uid=70&uid=4&sid=21102821176041

I can't copy the exact bit I want, but the JSTOR reviewer makes the point that Jones "has seized on an essential point" - that Chaucer's 14th century knight must be considered in the context of the writer's own age and not, as has often been the case, in the context of the ideals of knighthood of the 12th and 13th centuries - the age of troubadours.


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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Sun 27 Oct 2013, 11:01

Inversion played a big role in medieval symbolism. Christmas, for example, included a traditional inversion of rank (aimed at underlining humility vs pride too) within its traditional celebration. I would imagine these inversions of natural order, or in this case grotesques which challenge understanding of natural order, are in keeping with this perception. Medieval culture demanded representations of such things and I assume the whole convention became very nuanced indeed. But just what this nuance might be (or indeed the farting references which also abound) are a mystery to me.

Edit (after Temp's post came in): The knights generally look a well-outfitted, determined and belligerent lot - much as knights were normally portrayed when representing the height of chivalrous idealism. If it is a challenge to the viewer to revise this simplistic view of chivalrous heroism it's a very subtle one in that regard.
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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Sun 27 Oct 2013, 16:58

More snail info here. I found this page fascinating.

http://www.vanedwards.co.uk/month/feb00/month.html

Durer included this angel and snail in the margin of Emperor Maximilian's Book of Hours. Apparently the little creature was also included in the Emperor's arms and also on his triumphal arch - I'm trying to track down an image at the moment.




And this edifice, a tomb, rests on 12 processing snails! Apparently there is a plaster cast model of this in the Plaster Room of the Victoria and Albert Museum.





This whole snail business is driving me mad. Snails are obviously hugely symbolic, but of what exactly?

PS Have also read snails were a fertility symbol!

EDIT: Can't find any snails in Maximilian's arms. Eagles, yes - snails, no.


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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Sun 27 Oct 2013, 17:38

@Temperance wrote:

PS Have also read snails were a fertility symbol!

Well yes, I've read that too,  ... only I didn't want to be the first to bring sex into the subject. silent  I thought farting trumpeters was bad enough.

But I do also recall that the latin for a snail is 'cochlea', .... which might also be taken to be a pun on cock/coq...  ie a little penis. "A cock like a salted snail", is an expression that comes to mind  ... and indeed I believe it's a quote from somewhere, although I'll readily admit it's probably only from 'Blackadder' or somethng like that.


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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Sun 27 Oct 2013, 17:45

P.G. Wodehouse, I think, MM Smile   - "He wilted like a salted snail."
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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Sun 27 Oct 2013, 17:55

Ah well at least if it's Wodehouse it has a certain sophisticated cachet, and His Enormity ...  ooo, err missus, f'nurr f'nurr, snigger, giggle ....  can't complain about my lowering the tone.

Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Sun 27 Oct 2013, 20:37

The presence of snails on a tomb rang a bell and sent me to my Graves (pun intended). That is, my "Pictorial Encyclopedia of Ancient Burial Sites: Egypt, Greece and The Levant" with a foreword by Robert Graves. And true enough my memory had not failed me. Here, in the antechamber leading deeper into the beautifully preserved tomb of Nefertari ...



And this from the second chamber:



Which led me to an internet search regarding snails and tombs, which in turn led me to the fact that the motif was especially popular amongst Merovingian royalty for whom, at least according to Carl Pyrdum, it was indicative of the slow but inexorable approach of death.

Which brought me back to the knights. Could the "joke" understood by the contemporary viewers of the period be the sheer futility of fighting this approach? This would also explain why the knight never seems to win this contest, and even on the rare occasion is seen to catastrophically lose it.
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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Mon 28 Oct 2013, 07:16

Death ... and rebirth. In winter the snail retreats into his shell, his tomb or coffin if you like, seals himself in and remains there inert, until he is resurrected and emerges again afresh in the spring. The operculum that snails use to close the entrance of their shell is usually a round disc that tightly fits the opening, so might that also be symbolic of the stone being rolled away from the tomb of Christ, hence again reinforcing the motif of the Resurrection?


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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Mon 28 Oct 2013, 07:27

Why would a knight fight that, even as a futile gesture?
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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Mon 28 Oct 2013, 07:32

He can't fight it .... or at least he can try but he will never win ..... isn't that the whole point?

Death, even for the most heavily armoured knight, is inevitable .... but there is still the hope of Resurrection, if one repents.

EDIT :

The snail's shell is also symbolic of the womb,hence again a snail emerging from his shell could be taken to denote rebirth.

At least if the snail v knight motif is taken as symbolic of the inevitability of death and the promise of resurrection, it would represent a central tenet of Christianity, and could explain why the motif crops up again and again in all sorts of different types of document, no?


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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Mon 28 Oct 2013, 07:41

The resurrection aspect makes that allusion too complex in my view. Attacking the slow inexorability of death works better for me, and should be compulsory iconism throughout California!
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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Mon 28 Oct 2013, 08:49

In response to your EDIT above - the snail as a symbol of resurrection is understandable. Why an exemplar of chivalry should attack a fundamental Christian doctrine however is not. That's why I'm sticking with the simpler allusion for the moment (until persuaded otherwise of course).

In ancient Egypt the snails are slugs so the retreat into the shell business must be discounted. There the modern consensus is that they represented maleness (I assume through phallic symbolism) principally because they appear almost always juxtaposed against other images representing the female. Together I suppose this represents fecundity and fertility, and could also therefore be a resurrection component. As far as I'm aware however no Egyptian tomb has yet to portray a high-ranking exemplar of virtuosity running at the mollusc hell for leather.
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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Mon 28 Oct 2013, 09:24

I've always understood that hieroglyph to be a horned viper and represent the 'f' sound, has there been a recent rethink on this?

Could there be something of the tortoise and the hare in the depictions, the humble persistence of the snail set against the hubris and bravura of the knight? We never see a poor wee squashed snail impaled on a lance, do we?
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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Mon 28 Oct 2013, 09:34

Funny you should mention the hare. It often makes an appearance in the same general graphic by the same artist, though not always engaged in the same scene. Slow versus fast is an obvious comparison there - though no one as yet has managed to come up with a plausible symbolic frame of reference for that juxtaposition either. The hare of course is associated with Easter, assumedly through a more ancient association with fertility. So the thot plickens indeed once it hangs around in the picture, and of course lends weight to MM's take on the symbolism.
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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Tue 29 Oct 2013, 07:47

The hare also represented female lust and promiscuity and was a symbol for the witch.

I found this earlier:

Because of its fertility (one doe can produce 42 young a year), the rabbit or hare is an emblem of fertility, abundance, good fortune, sexuality, lasciviousness, lust, procreation, puberty, renewal, spring, rampant growth, excess, and love gods and goddesses such as Venus, Aphrodite, and Cupid. Pliny the Elder even prescribed its meat as a cure for female sterility. The white hare sometimes found at Mary's feet represents her triumph over lust or the flesh.

The reference to the hare "sometimes found at Mary's feet" is interesting; it links to the snails in the pictures shown above. Snails were also a fertility symbol. Was fertility a distasteful idea for a celibate/misogynist monk - fertility easily viewed perhaps as linked to lust - a deadly sin? Will search in a moment for pictures showing a hare with the Virgin.

Yesterday I was persuaded by the idea of the futility of tilting at death: I'm now coming round to the view that the knights v. snails images emphasise the need to fight and conquer the lusts of the flesh. The snail and or the hare/rabbit represents the temptress Eve in two of her many disguises perhaps?
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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Tue 29 Oct 2013, 08:08

This is Titian - but the rabbit is white and looks rather sweet - Baby Jesus obviously likes him/her!

No time now, but will look for more hares/rabbits in art later: there's apparently a Holy Family with Three Hares, but I can't find it.

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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Tue 29 Oct 2013, 08:30

Are you thinking of Durer's woodcut, "The Holy Family with three hares"? ... Flopsey, Mopsey and Cottontail are at bottom/right:




EDIT : And nothing to do with the OP but I just like this hare, also by Durer:

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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Tue 29 Oct 2013, 09:14

So knights fight male fertility but not female fertility? The thot plickens further ...

I'm not convinced of the semantic/symbolic glide from fertility to lust. One was good and one was bad (otherwise snails and hares would never have got within a mile of the BVM).
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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Tue 29 Oct 2013, 09:28

Well this hare seems quite clearly associated with promiscuity/lust, in Piero di Cosimo's 'Venus, Mars and Love':



But we're moving away somewhat from mediaeval snail v knight encounters, n'est-ce pas?

I've seen a hypothesis that the snail also denotes the Lombards, who were generally despised in the early middle ages as being faithless, treasonous, deceitful and usurious. But I'm not sure I buy that one.
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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Tue 29 Oct 2013, 09:40

I don't buy that one either since it appears to have been erroneously deduced/assigned to the Lombards from their and the Septomanians' adoption of certain Merovingian motifs and symbolism, as seen in the tombs mentioned above. A bit like pasting the "Hun" epithet on Germans despite their total lack of any historic association in order to infer a bad character on the latter.
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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Tue 29 Oct 2013, 10:03

Was it left to women then to combat and subdue their own 'urges'? Isn't the hare's expression just wonderful?



The article I linked to earlier gives a lengthy discussion of the Lombard link but also refers to folk tales referring to fear of the illusory power of the snail as being a representation of stupidity.
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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Tue 29 Oct 2013, 11:48

But she's firing one of those kids' suction cup arrow thingies! I think she's only half-hearted about giving up the lust bit.

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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Tue 29 Oct 2013, 13:32

But isn't the bow and, particularly, the arrow symbolic of love or lust also? Perhaps the hare has a different symbolism in this pic.
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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Tue 29 Oct 2013, 13:33

She wants to fall in love with her lust maybe?

This is all getting very complicated - especially when one tries to get one's head around the suction cup.
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PostSubject: Re: Knights V Snails!   Tue 29 Oct 2013, 14:16

Well that arrow looks decidedly phallic to me, and if the hare is symbolic of fertility......

The woman isn't trying to slay lust at all, rather saying bring it on. Smile

Edit. And the poor old hare looks terrified affraid
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