Astraea: The Imperial Theme in the Sixteenth Century by Frances Amelia Yates

By Frances Amelia Yates

This publication examines the pictures and symbolism of eu monarchy within the sixteenth century. The accession of Charles V, along with his immense dominions in either the outdated and new worlds, used to be the party for a renewal of the parable of Empire within the West. The subject matter was once echoed within the pageants and ballets of the declining Valois dynasty in France and, particularly, within the glorification of Elizabeth I. This publication makes an attempt to light up reader's knowing of the Renaissance monarchies as they struggled with the darkish undertow of reformation and counter-reformation.

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The com in her hand suggests that she must be Ceres. Sometimes she is affiliated to Venus. 5 There is a hint of Isis in her nature,6 a hint later followed up by Martianus Capella,? but the female diety whom she perhaps most resembles is Atargatis,8the Syrian god­ dess, worshipped under the name o f Virgo Caelestis at Carthage,9 and asso1 Germanicus Caesar, Aratea cum scholiis, ed. A. Breysig, Berlin, 1867, p. 137. 2 See the linking o f the name o f Nigidius Figulus with the Virgo story in die passages from Guevara and Sir R.

B om , Columbia University Press, 1936. See also Erasmus’s Querela Pads (1517), English trans. W . J. Hirten, N e w Y o rk , 1946. * Erasmus, Opus epistolarum, ed. P. S. , 1906-47, II, 586. This important letter was pointed out to me b y the late Barbara Flower. 19 CH ARLES V A N D THE ID E A OF THE EMPIRE recently discovered, were unknown to it. Its majesty paled before the light o f the gospel, as the moon before the sun. In the invasions o f the barbarians it was extinguished, though after many centuries the Roman Pontiffs restored it ‘but in name rather than in fact*.

139-40. , p. 125. C f. Bouchd-Leclercq, op. , p. 139; Cumont, op. cit. 9 See the discussion in F. D ger, Antike und Christentum, Munster, 1929, , pp. , on the worship o f the Carthaginian Virgo Caelestis in imperial times. Virgo Caelestis was assimilated to Juno and made patroness o f the Roman people. a The just virgin is thus a complex character, fertile and barren at the same time; orderly and righteous, yet tinged with oriental moon-ecstasies. It is to Virgil that she owes her greatest fame.

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