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art appear god medieval

From the Greek angelos, angels play important roles in the Old and New Testaments and figure prominently in medieval art. They serve as intermediaries between *God and humans; they announce God’s will, assist, protect, punish, guide, and often appear in dreams and visions both in scripture and hagiography. Scripture provides the names of three specific angels x, while implying countless more. Visions recorded in *Isaiahand *Ezekiel include descriptions of angels as multiwinged (and sometimes multiheaded), bright, bodiless beings. According to the influential, apocryphal book of *Enoch (second century B.C. ), the fallen angels, led by Lucifer or *Satan, rebelled against God and were ejected from *heaven to become *devils in *hell.

In the medieval period, many authors (including *Augustine of Hippo, *Gregory the Great, *Peter Lombard, and Saint *Thomas Aquinas) attempted to define and classify angels. The most influential writing on angels was that of Dionysius (the Pseudo-Areopagite, c.500) whose work, De hierarchia celesti (Celestial Hierarchies) categorizes angels into nine ranked choirs of three triads. The highest order of angels, in direct communion with God, are the seraphim, cherubim, and thrones. Artistic representations of these may show cherubim as blue or yellow and seraphim as red. Additional eyes may be depicted on the wings; wheels may be included. The middle order of angels are the dominions, virtues, and powers, who are intermediaries to the lowest order of principalities, archangels (seven), and angels. The latter two groups are the actual “messengers” from God to humans.

In art, all of these generally appear with human bodies (angels are neither male nor female specifically), usually winged, dressed in flowing garments, and often with *haloes. Winged figures depicting messengers or “victories” appear in ancient and classical art; angels in early Christian art are often similar to these classical depictions. Other distinguishing attributes of angels in medieval art may include crowns, globes, sceptres (dominions), lilies or red roses (virtues), and armor (powers, archangels). Angels are often shown singing or playing *musical instruments or with candles or censers. Angels (single or in groups) may appear in many scenes such as the *Adoration of the Magi, *Agony in the Garden, *Annunciation, *Ascension, *Assumption and *Coronation of the Virgin, *Crucifixion, *Last Judgment, *Nativity, and *Resurrection.


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