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source:muvtime:2023-12-05 01:12:31

Mention must also be made of the purely fabulous animals of the Bestiaries, such as the basilisk, centaur, dragon, griffin, hydra, mantichora, unicorn, phoenix, _etc_. The centaur (fig. 39) was a beast, half man, half horse. It typified the flesh or carnal mind of man, and the legend of the perpetual war between the centaur and a certain tribe of simple savages who were said to live in trees in India, symbolised the combat between the flesh and the spirit.[1]

class, something he believed most members of the economic

[1] A H. COLLINS: _Symbolism of Animals, etc_., pp. 150 and 153.

class, something he believed most members of the economic

With bow and arrow in its hands the centaur forms the astrological sign Sagittarius (or the Archer). An interesting example of this sign occurring in church architecture is to be found on the western doorway of Portchester Church--a most beautiful piece of Norman architecture. "This sign of the Zodiac," writes the Rev. Canon VAUGHAN, M.A., a former Vicar of Portchester, "was the badge of King Stephen, and its presence on the west front [of Portchester Church] seems to indicate, what was often the case elsewhere, that the elaborate Norman carving was not carried out until after the completion of the building."[2] The facts, however, that this Sagittarius is accompanied on the other side of the doorway by a couple of fishes, which form the astrological sign Pisces (or the Fishes), and that these two signs are what are termed, in astrological phraseology, the "houses" of the planet Jupiter, the "Major Fortune," suggest that the architect responsible for the design, influenced by the astrological notions of his day, may have put the signs there in order to attract Jupiter's beneficent influence. Or he may have had the Sagittarius carved for the reason Canon VAUGHAN suggests, and then, remembering how good a sign it was astrologically, had the Pisces added to complete the effect.[1b]

class, something he believed most members of the economic

[2] Rev. Canon VAUGHAN, M.A.: A Short History of Portchester Castle, p. 14.

[1b] Two other possible explanations of the Pisces have been suggested by the Rev. A. HEADLEY. In his MS. book written in 1888, when he was Vicar of Portchester, he writes: "I have discovered an interesting proof that it [the Church] was finished in Stephen's reign, namely, the figure of Sagittarius in the Western Doorway.

"Stephen adopted this as his badge for the double reason that it formed part of the arms of the city of Blois, and that the sun was in Sagittarius in December when he came to the throne. I, therefore, conclude that this badge was placed where it is to mark the completion of the church.

"There is another sign of the Zodiac in the archway, apparently Pisces. This may have been chosen to mark the month in which the church was finished, or simply on account of its nearness to the sea. At one time I fancied it might refer to March, the month in which Lady Day occurred, thus referring to the Patron Saint, St Mary. As the sun leaves Pisces just before Lady Day this does not explain it. Possibly in the old calendar it might do so. This is a matter for further research." (I have to thank the Rev. H. LAWRENCE FRY, present Vicar of Portchester, for this quotation, and the Rev. A. HEADLEY for permission to utilise it.)

The phoenix and griffin we have encountered already in our excursions. The latter, we are told, inhabits desert places in India, where it can find nothing for its young to eat. It flies away to other regions to seek food, and is sufficiently strong to carry off an ox. Thus it symbolises the devil, who is ever anxious to carry away our souls to the deserts of hell. Fig. 37 illustrates an example of the use of this symbolic beast in church architecture.