Images of the pagan gods and worldly philosophers are of little use for Christians
Year mention: 1617
Pagan Gods ; Philosophers
Sacred vs. profane imagery

Images and statues of the pagan gods and philosophers can only fulfil a few uses for Christians

Molanus, Johannes
Frostispiece of Molanus, De historia sanctarum imaginum et picturarum (1617), Antwerp, Gasparus Bellerus
Frontispiece of Molanus, De historia sanctarum imaginum et picturarum (1617), Antwerp, Gasparus Bellerus
Augsburg, Staats- und Stadtbibliothek — Th H 1475. Digital Reproduction: München, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, 2015.

Molanus assesses the usefulness to Christians of images and statues of pagan gods and ancient philosophers and concludes that only in a few cases they are of value.

“Images of false gods, worldly philosophers, or other entities having their statues among the pagans can hardly be of use to Christians, and to discuss them in detail only satisfies curiosity, or serves to lengthen the discourse (for we read that in Rome there we so many statues that one could say that a people of stone kept company with the people of flesh). So I shall not devote any effort to describing them, for as its title indicates, my book is about sacred painting and not about painting in general. However, let us say that they can be for some the object of useful observations and discoveries; that is why I will indicate briefly some references where this subject is developed, and which I have come across at random.”

“Quia vero Imagines, tam falsorum deorum, quam mundi istius philosophorum, ac similium qui apud Ethnicos statuas habuerunt, parum aut, nihil utilitatis adferre possunt Christianis hominibus, sed plus satis curiositatis et simul prolixitatis, si per singula discuntiantur (Romae enim tantam legimus fuisse copiam statuarum, ut alter adesse populus lapideus diceretur) ideo in eis describendis nullam operam dabo. Inscribitur enim hic liber non de picturis, sed de sacris picturis. Possent tamen fateor ex eis nonnulla utiliter observari et erui à quibusdam. Quare loca aliquot quae modo occurrunt, ubi eiuscemodi tractantur paucis indicabo.”

Date mention

Historical Location

Molanus, De historia sanctarum imaginum et picturarum (1617), book 2, ch. 59, 200

Molanus 1996, 296.

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