Advertisement

Metamorphosis pp 299-319 | Cite as

The Dance of the Angels, the Mysteries of Pseudo-Dionysius and the Architecture of Gothic Cathedrals

  • Tessa Morrison
Chapter
Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 81)

Abstract

The bliss of heaven has been characterised by the dance of the angels and the illumination of light. The dance of the angels was commonly depicted on church ceilings and in Medieval and Renaissance paintings. An example of this is the dance of the angels and the blessed from Angleo da Fiesle’s ‘Last Judgement’ painted in 1425 in the collection of the Academia della Belle Arte in Florence. Clement of Alexandria claimed that with the revelation of the Christian mysteries the initiated shall dance with the angels.1 In Medieval hymns there are numerous references to the ring dance of angels or the virgins.2 The spheres of Dante’s Paradise are full of light, music and dance, with the exception of the sphere of Saturn, which was the sphere of contemplation. In the sphere of the sun, the souls of the wise and learned performed a ring dance that encircled Dante and Beatrice. The ethereal light, harmony and the bliss of heaven radiated from this dance of the souls.3 In Pseudo-Dionysius’s ‘Celestial Hierarchy’ the nine spheres of angels dance a celestial choral dance. The angels’ task was to receive and to pass on the divine light, and through this illumination comes the understanding that brings perfection.4 Cosmic dance became linked with the Christian mysteries of baptism and the Eucharist.

Keywords

Corporeal World Tripartite Structure Divine Comedy Gothic Cathedral Octagonal Shape 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Clement, “The Exhortation to the Greeks,” in G. W. Butterworth (ed.), Clement of Alexandria ( London: William Heinemann Ltd. X II, 1953 ).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Backman, E. L., Religious Dances in the Christian Church and in Popular Medicine ( London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1952 ), pp. 44–50.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Dante, The Divine Comedy Vol. III: Paradise ( New York: Penguin Books. XIV, 1986 ), pp. 40–45.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Pseudo-Dionysius, Pseudo-Dionysius: The Complete Works ( Mahwah: Paulist Press, 1986 ), p. 208a.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Philo, “On the Account of the World’s Creation Given by Moses,” in F. H. Colson (ed.), Philo (London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1949), p. ix.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    Eusebius, The Ecclesiastical History (London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1949), p. 11, xvi.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    Philo, “On the Acount of the World’s Creation Given by Moses.” 9 Ibid., p. 48.Google Scholar
  8. 38.
    Pulver, M., “Jesus’ Round Dance and Crucifixion According to the Acts of St. John,” in J. Campbell (ed.), The Mysteries (New York: Princeton University Press, 1978), pp. 169–193, p. 169.Google Scholar
  9. 40.
    Pagels, E., “To the Universe Belongs the Dancer,” Parabola, 1979, Vol. 4(2), pp. 7–9, p. 7.Google Scholar
  10. 41.
    James, M. R., The Apocryphal New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), Acts of St. John, pp. 94–96.Google Scholar
  11. 42.
    Backman, E. L., Religious Dances in the Christian Church and in Popular Medicine ( London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1952 ), p. 15.Google Scholar
  12. 43.
    Pulver, 1978, p. 177.Google Scholar
  13. 44.
    Ibid., p. 173, Backman, 1952, p. 14.Google Scholar
  14. 47.
    Augustine, Letters 204–270 (Washington: The Catholic University of America Press, 1956), letter 237.Google Scholar
  15. 48.
    Pagels, 1979, p. 8.Google Scholar
  16. 49.
    Miller, J., Measures of Wisdom: The Cosmic Dance in Classical and Christian Antiquity (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1986), p. 101; Pulver, 1978, p. 173.Google Scholar
  17. 50.
    Clement, Exhortation to the Greeks, XII.Google Scholar
  18. 87.
    Krautheimer, R., Early Christian and Byzantine Architecture ( Middlesex: Penguin Books, 1986 ), p. 42.Google Scholar
  19. 88.
    Eusebius, The Ecclesiastical History (London: William Heinemann Ltd., 1949 ), VIII, p.Google Scholar
  20. 100.
    Dante, The Divine Comedy, Vol. III: Paradise (New York: Penguin Books, 1986), XXVIII, pp. 136–137.Google Scholar
  21. 106.
    Dante, The Divine Comedy, Vol. III: Paradise (New York: Penguin Books, 1986), XXVIII, pp. 136–137.Google Scholar
  22. 109.
    Bischoff, G. G., “Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite Gnostic Myth,” in E. R. Elder (ed.), The Spirtuality of Western Christendom ( Oxford: Cistercian Publications Inc., 1978 ), p. 36.Google Scholar
  23. 112.
    Simson, O. V., The Gothic Cathedral ( Princeton: Princeton University, 1988 ), p. 139.Google Scholar
  24. 122.
    See footnote 4, Chambers, E. K., The Medieval Stage ( London: Oxford University Press, 1903 ), pp. 128–129.Google Scholar
  25. 124.
    Ibid. and Doob, 1985, p. 134.Google Scholar
  26. 131.
    Doob, P. B. R., The Auxerre Labyrinth (The Myriad Faces of Dance, University of New Mexico, Society of Dance History Scholars, 1985 )Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tessa Morrison
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Fine ArtsThe University of NewcastleUK

Personalised recommendations