Encounters with Monsters at the End of Time: Some Early Medieval Visualizations of Apocalyptic Eschatology

Encounters with Monsters at the End of Time: Some Early Medieval Visualizations ofApocalyptic Eschatology

Lewis, Suzanne

Different Visions: A Journal of New Perspectives on Medieval Art, Issue 2, June (2010)


In our long history of interpreting apocalyptic images in medieval manuscripts, we have tended to resist the idea of eschatological expectation as a major creative force. Now that we have passed the end of our second millennium only to confront dire threats to the fate of our planet, there seems to be a particular urgency in revisiting some medieval sites of pictorial representation with a view to re-examining how they opened visual discourses relating to the end of time.

Although the Book of Revelation promises the coming of the messianic kingdom in the Heavenly Jerusalem, Saint John’s meta-narrative leaves his reader on what has been called “the edge of chaos . . . the point . . . where the components of a system never quite lock into place.” At the beginning of the twenty-first century, we are still there—waiting.

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