Visualizing the Millennium: Eschatological Rhetoric for the Ottonian Court

Sasun E. Von Daum Tholl

in The Apocalyptic Year 1000

Published in print June 2003 | ISBN: 9780195161625
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199849666 | DOI:
Visualizing the Millennium: Eschatological Rhetoric for the Ottonian Court

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Ottonian iconography, like Ottonian culture and politics, had strong precedent in the Carolingian realm. The manner in which this art presents its message, however, differs from its earlier counterparts. This chapter discusses the visual rhetoric used by Ottonian artists to convey a message of transcendence, atemporality, and eschatological events, while reinforcing the significance of strong imperial rule as the turn of the millennium approached. On the one hand, eschatological events are gracefully but graphically depicted; on the other, the emperor enthroned as a sign of unbroken rule is associated with the visions. Both style and iconography are crucial as connotators of rhetoric, the signifying aspect of ideology. Two types of Ottonian illumination relate to this discussion: innovative visionary compositions that enhance the apocalyptic literature they accompany; and depictions of the emperor that are essentially secular and not referential to the religious texts in which they are found.

Keywords: Ottonian; iconography; rhetoric; transcendence; atemporality; eschatological events; millennium; style; illumination

Chapter.  4984 words. 

Subjects: East Asian Religions

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