To Read the Body of a Monster: Exegesis and Witchcraft in <i>Strix</i> by Giovan Francesco Pico della Mirandola

in In the Company of Demons

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2006 | ISBN: 9780226501307
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226501291 | DOI:
To Read the Body of a Monster: Exegesis and Witchcraft in Strix by Giovan Francesco Pico della Mirandola

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  • Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)


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This chapter focuses on Giovan Francesco Pico della Mirandola's Strix sive de ludificatione daemonum. In this book, Pico describes the several differences between classical culture and Christian revelation as two opposite armies engaged in a ruthless war. Giovan Francesco stages these differences through a dramatic dialogue between two opposing intellectuals, Apistius (the “man without faith”) and Phronimus (the “prudent man”). Phronimus demonstrates to the skeptical Apistius that all of classical culture, the very foundation of Italian humanism, is based on Satan's intervention in the creation. Giovan Francesco Pico revisits the pillars of classical literature, philosophy, and historiography and “unveils” their inner diabolical nature and message. According to Pico, the Greek and Latin myths were nothing but metaphorical stories coming directly from Satan, and a half-human and half-bird called strix incarnates and reveals Satan's infectious presence in the creation.

Keywords: Giovan Francesco Pico; classical culture; Christian revelation; Apistius; Phronimus; Italian humanism; strix

Chapter.  17833 words. 

Subjects: Early Modern History (1500 to 1700)

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