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Title:The Mouth of Hell in Medieval Art and Thought
Author(s):Schmidt, Gary David
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Medieval
Abstract:The monastic reform of the tenth century brought with it a need to express theological principles in vivid ways which were readily accessible to the lay audience. When the reform movement crossed the Channel into Anglo-Saxon Britain, it used artistic symbols and representations which were already known to the populace outside of the monastery walls. This led to the establishment of the zoomorphic mouth of hell, in which the entrance to the underworld is pictured as a set of open jaws. This image's origins begin as early as the second century in representations and discussion of Jonah's whale and the nature of the prophet's experience. Its crystallization in the tenth century and association with Leviathan/draco and the lion, however, led to a movement from earlier anthropomorphic representations to strongly zoomorphic types. These found their way into visionary literature, affecting the torments of the damned, particularly those torments which involved swallowing. In its last stages the image of the jaws of hell was used as a dramatic convention on the stage, where it lost most of its original meaning and purpose as a way of inspiring religious awe and terror.
Issue Date:1985
Description:211 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1985.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8600304
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1985

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