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The Three Young Men in The Furnace and The Art of Ecphrasis in The Coptic Sermon By Theophilus of Alexandria

The Three Young Men in The Furnace and The Art of Ecphrasis in The Coptic Sermon By Theophilus of Alexandria

Polański, Tomasz (Kraków)

Studies in Ancient Art and Civilization, vol.10, Kraków (2007)

Abstract

The church interiors in the East in the period of the 4th-7th century were adorned with images of Christ, the apostles, prophets and saints as well as with scenes drawn from the gospels. All of them were arranged on the walls and made according to the established patterns. The artists’ aim was to completely cover the interior walls with images, as if they were tapestries. The most prominent greek Fathers, like Gregory of Nyssa, asterios of amaseia, Nilus of Ancyra or Choricius of Gaza, time and again mention and describe painting and mosaic church decoration. Asterios of Amaseia in his pamphlet on the rich (de divite et Lazaro) compared richly ornamented gowns to church walls adorned with figural images. The patterns included the figures of boars, lions, leopards, bulls, or dogs, and landscapes with rocks, forests and hunters. They also pictured the gospel scenes as for example. the Wedding of Cana or the miracles of Christ. nilus of Ancyra wrote that churches should be decorated with images on account of the illiterate, who cannot read the bible themselves.

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