Image from page 285 of "Science and literature in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance" (1878)
Authors: Jacob, P. L., 1806-1884
Publisher: London : Bickers and Son
Contributing Library: Getty Research Institute
Digitizing Sponsor: Getty Research Institute
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(see Fig. l^->) ; St. ilartlialeading with a string the teriiblc Turdnijiii which bad laid waste theneighboui-houd of Tarascon. Thus the serpent tcjok liis j)laee 1ji emblazniirywith the unicorn, the cluimera, and otiier marvellous animals, lie has hisplace in history under the designation of JVlelusine of Lusignan ; he has been 252 POPULAR BELIEFS. the theme of the most wonderful travellers tales, and is to be found fromone end to the other of science, poetry, and art. It is the serpent, or, to speak more accurately, the devil, to whom isattiibuted the birth of the grotesque and hideovis monsters which descendedin a natural order of succession from the giants, pigmies, cyclops, satyrs,centaurs, harjjies, tritons, and sirens of mythology (Fig. 191). The fathersof the Church did not ventiire to call into question the existence of thesemonsters, whom Pliny and the ancient naturalists complacently admitted intothe hierarchjr of living things; and the people were all the more ready to
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Fig. 183.—The GargouiUe.—From the Stained-glass Window representing the Life ofSt. Remain, in the St. Remain Chajjel, Rouen Cathedral. accept them as realities, because they attributed their existence to the powerof the demon. It is astonishing that none of those who lived in the Middle Ages, Aviththe exception of a few heroes of legends, claimed to have discovered theearthly Paradise, though learned writers tried hard to define its precisegeographical position. If some one of the travellers of the twelfth or of thethirteenth century, such as Benjamin de Tudele, Jean Piano Carpini, orMarco Polo, had put forward such a claim, it would assuredly have beenadmitted, inasmuch as many of the Christians of that period, so fertile in POPULAR BELIEFS. 253 wonders, did not hesitate to believe that access could be gained to purgatory,and that Paradise could be seen from afar, -uithout leaving the world of thelivino- Sorcerers alone were believed to have- the power of descending intohell. The
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