Rachel King

MONTFAUCON, Bernard de. Supplement Au Livre De L’Antiquite Expliquee et representee en figures (Paris, 1724)

Times of the Day

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This picture depicts different times of day along with the days of the week. Generally, the days of the week are represented by a selection of Roman gods, Saturday (Saturn), Apollo (Sunday), Diana Luna (Monday), Mars (Tuesday), Mercury (Wednesday), Jupiter (Thursday) and Venus (Friday). There is little other writing to help translate what is actually going on in this picture unless attention is changed to the plate description itself.

The picture also notes four other individuals, however only two of these can be identified. L’Aurora is the Goddess of Dawn she rides her horse-drawn chariot in this picture which is typical for her depictions. The next image is of Le Soir, meaning the Evening. The only god that can be found as similar to this is Nox.

Most of the translations for these chapters highlight De Montfaucon’s perspective of time by use of Roman figures and representation of Months, Days and short periods of times. The ways in which De Montfaucon displays all of his figures in this manner do signify certain perspectives that the Romans took and beliefs that they understood. There is a strong perception of time in this image and from the ones that have been contextualised, this is the one that is perceived as to interpret time so fluently.

Mensis Avgvstvs

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De Montfaucon’s imagery of the Month of August is in stark contrast to normal images of Augustus such as displayed in the Prima Porta as well as the Via Labicana Augustus. The outright nakedness, it would seem, goes against all ideals that Augustus instituted: for this purpose it would be that of Virtus.  It appears that this version of Augustus could be argued as the Renaissance style being applied; making more than subtle changes to the idea of this well-defined individual. Nonetheless the image does portray a man of strength albeit with little virtue. 

The importance of this picture is that the month of August was created on the deification of Augustus formerly known as Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus and only later referred to as Emperor Augustus. The making of this month represented the third founder of Rome’s achievements and position within Rome. He was set between his birth month and the month in which his adoptive father was named, July.

The apparent vulnerability of Augustus’ depiction in De Montfaucon’s volume could be due, it can be argued, to not only his French background but also to the time period of which he was a part, that is, the Renaissance.

A rough translation of the text that goes alongside this picture is as follows, ‘Springs and streams and clear glass cups, we observe drowned STARK mouth drink everlasting kingdom of names for the month, Leto created one witness Hecate’ (GoogleTranslate). 

Mercure, Jupiter, Venus Qui Marquent Mercredi, Jeudi, Vendredi

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Mercury, Jupiter, Venus marking Wednesday, Thursday, Friday (GoogleTranslate). This is the simple translation for this picture which follows with the individuals of Mercury, Jupiter and Venus. Cupid is latched to his mother’s leg (Venus) which is not unnoticeable in other depictions of the pair. Mercury, Messenger of the Gods appears as if he is stepping outside of the zodiac ring as if he were off to deliver a message. Jupiter is seated and primed within the centre of the ring and the burning sun makes Jupiter a focal point for the whole image. The eagle slyly portrayed beneath Jupiter could resemble the emblem of Rome.

In contrast to this heavenly portrayal, beneath appears to have Aeolus, God of the wind along with several individuals, four of which appear with halos. It could be believed that these several are in hell, or at least bordering it considering they are below the heavens and the superior Gods. Aeolus, appearing to be the border between Heaven and Hell, considering his position within the Gods although this does contrast with Dante’s The Divine Comedy’s ideas. The zodiac ring presents as a symbol strengthening the position of the Gods. 

Bibliography

Alighieri, D. 2008. The Divine Comedy. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Cooley, A.E. 2009. Res Gestae Divi Augusti: Text Translatio, and Commentary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Seutonius Tranquillus, G. 2007. The Twelve Caesars. London: Penguin Books

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Rachel King