In ancient Greek mythology, the raven is the sacred companion of the god Apollo. Initially, who had a silver plumage and was able to speak, he turned black and began to croak because of the curse of Apollo for not looking after his beloved Coronida badly - he did not peck out the eyes of the handsome Ishia. Apollo turned the crow into a constellation, so that by his presence in the sky he warned people against haste and deception.
To the ancient Romans, the cry of a crow resembled the word “tomorrow” (lat. Cras) and was associated with hope. In Slavic mythology, this bird was revered as a thing, capable of healing the wounded and reviving the dead, but also carrying the grief on its wings. Later, the raven becomes the emblem of war and death, all troubles and misfortunes.
By the church fathers, a lie was accused of not returning to Noah's ark after finding sushi and forgetting the House of the Lord. Therefore, he often personified the pagan and in general every sinner. And since this bird feeds on carrion, it began to be perceived also as an image of shamelessness and iniquity. St. Ambrose in his treatise On the Sacraments calls the crow a “symbol of sin,” from which the righteous should be delivered.
Forty gossip girl
In the Western tradition, forty has long been considered an insidious bird - associated with greed, loquacity and the spread of gossip. Latin pica (magpie) also meant gossip-gossip. The same thing in many modern languages: English. magpie, him. Elster, ital. gazza, isp. urraca, rum. ţarcă.
In Russian dialects to shuffle means to talk in vain, spread gossip. Let's compare well-known sayings with the meaning of “spreading rumors”: Forty on the tail brought (Russian); To hear through the grapevine (English); Etwas der Elster auf den Schwanz binden (German).
The most famous embodiment of this image in the visual arts is the famous painting by Peter Bruegel “Forty on the gallows”. In the center of the allegorical canvas, the gallows with lingering feet-supports hangs with the forty sitting on it - a symbol of either talkativeness as a source of defamatory rumors, or the gossips themselves, who in former times were threatened by the gallows. The latest version was proposed by Karel van Mander in the Book of the Living Scribes (1604).
According to contemporary art historians, since forty sits on the gallows itself, and not under it - gossip here, on the contrary, triumphs, and the author of the picture points to its mortal danger. For the contemporaries of the artist, this picture had a more specific meaning, recalling the terror of the Duke of Alba, rooted in the evil rumor about Protestants.
Sparrow the Christ-seller
The sparrow was on the “black list” of the sultry birds. In the apocryphal legend, he is cursed by God for stealing the nails he carried to the cross, helping him crucify Jesus. In another version of the legend, sparrows are cursed for giving Christ to Roman soldiers with their tweets. In the third, for the mocking cry “alive, alive!” While the soldiers wanted to smash their shins to the crucified Savior. At the same time, the dove cooed "died, died" - and the Holy Spirit descended on him, and the sparrow was cursed for calling out to torment the Savior.
Among the harmful birds, you can even find a swallow. In many cultures, it is considered the herald of spring, the emblem of childbearing and the symbol of the resurrection, but it unexpectedly takes on the form of slander in the ballad of the swallow slanderer by French poet Eustace Deschan.
Written in the XIV century, this allegorical work tells the story of a small, nimble bird that attacks “without sling and projectile”, “chirps from gloating”, “sows discord”, dishonors and wounds “insidious speech”. The plot of the ballad rests on an ancient belief about the existence of a special type of swallows, whose bite is poisonous, and the look leads to awe of even kites with eagles. The swallow slanderer is "condemned by right" - and in the end "evil will fall on her own, her end will come."
In fairness, we note: the swallow slanderer - the image is individually author's, in other sources it is almost not found. Traditionally, slander was compared to other animals. Demosthenes compared the slanderer with a scorpion and a snake. Shakespeare has slander "like a black crow in a clear sky" (sonnet 70). According to the French moralist writer Nicolas de Chamfort, "slander is like a boring wasp."
Since ancient times, owl personified not only wisdom and insight, but also - in different interpretations - cruelty, sadness, death. From the companion of the ancient goddess Athena, she turns into a medieval allegory of depravity and blindness of unbelief. The predator who does not know the fear of darkness was also associated with evil - as a rapper of bad news, a translator of lies or a generalized image of menace. In the ordinary consciousness, these dark notions eclipsed opposite meanings: artists depicted owls in scenes of prayers for hermits as a symbol of solitude. In the scenes of the crucifixion as an attribute of Christ.
Hieronymus Bosch was a great master of the infernal images of an owl. In the painting “The Magician”, she hides in a basket on the crooker's belt, a crook, at the Concert in the Egg, she brazenly sits on the head of the nun, in “The Traveler” intently examines the prodigal son from the top of the tree.
On the “Ship of Fools” owl lurks in a tree crown. In the triptych “Temptation of St. Anthony”, a pig-like creature with a mandolin stands on the head and looks out from the crack of a stone column. On these canvases, an owl is most likely a symbol of heresy.
Among the many ornithomorphic figures in the monumental "Garden of Earthly Delights" are also remarkable owls. One nestled among the frolicking libertines, the other ridiculously balances on the stalk of the thistle, the third hides in the Fountain of Life. The fourth one got into the bird company, illustrating the diversity of human vices. According to various interpretations, this owl embodies cruelty, spiritual blindness, a harbinger of death.
- Belova OV, Petrukhin V.Ya. "Chicken is not a bird ...": demonological ornithology in the cross-cultural space // Studia mythologica Slavica. 2007. T. 10. S. 197-206.
- L. Evdokimova "Sensus historicus" and the historical meaning of the allegorical text in the late Middle Ages: Deshan, "The Ballad of the Swallow-Slanderer" // PSTGU Bulletin. Series III: Philology. 2013. Vol. 3 (33). Pp. 52-65.
- Mander Carel van. The book is about artists. SPb .: ABC, 2007.
- Slavic mythology: Encyclopedic dictionary. M .: International Relations, 2002.
- Tresidder J. Dictionary of characters. M .: FAIR-PRESS, 1999.
- Announcement image: wikipedia.org
- Lead image: gallerix.ru