Ms Typ 584


Ms. Typ 584, Septenarium pictum, Northern France, early thirteenth century

Diagrammatic imagery on loose sheets of parchment, single or sewn together, often was hung on the wall as in the present exhibition to serve as the medieval equivalent of a blackboard for pedagogic demonstrations. In this case, an allegorical table made up of five concentric circles exploits numerology, a common form of medieval symbolic allegoresis, to link various septenaries or groups of sevens: the principal deadly sins, the petitions of the Lord's Prayer, gifts, virtues and (eight) beatitudes.  Christ, holding a book identifying him with the Logos, presides at the center. Above him sits the female personification of Superbia (Pride). The Latin text derives from Hugh of St. Victor's De quinque septenis.