Wednesday, May 24, 2017


Sistine Chapel - Cumaean Sibyl
Michelangelo's design for the ceiling of the Sistine chapel in the Vatican included seven Hebrew prophets and five Greek sibyls arranged prominently around the borders of the central scenes. The figure of Daniel is between the Cumaean and Libyan sibyls. 

Wikimedia Commons
Cumaean Sibyl
Copy after Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling
These are the prophets and sibyls listed on the Italian Renaissance Art website: Jonah, Jeremiah, Persian Sibyl, Ezekiel, Erythraean Sibyl, Joel, Zechariah, Delphic Sibyl, Isaiah, Cumaean Sibyl, Daniel, Libyan Sibyl.

In his studies of Michelangelo's art Blake copied from a print the Cumaean Sibyl. Michelangelo and Blake owed a debt to Greek art and thought although their principal obligation was to the Hebrew narratives of the Old Testament. The distilled wisdom of the Greeks was embodied in the female sibyls parallel to the Hebrew wisdom being embodied in the prophets. The sibyls provided their guidance through oracles offered to supplicants seeking advice. The words of the prophets were written in books and collected by scholars to be read for their instruction and edification. The sibyls acted through intuitive processes which reached directly into the psyche, whereas the prophets used historical experiences to speak to the intellect with the aim of modifying man's understanding. There is no evidence that the methods of the sibyls were less influential on Blake's attempts to communicate than were the prophets'. Blake wrote poetry not law.
"Every Poem must necessarily be a perfect Unity, but why Homers is
peculiarly so, I cannot tell: he has told the story of
Bellerophon & omitted the judgment of Paris which is not only a
part, but a principal part of Homers subject
  But when a Work has Unity it is as much in a Part as in the
Whole. the Torso is as much a Unity as the Laocoon
  As Unity is the cloke of folly so Goodness is the cloke of
knavery  Those who will have Unity exclusively in Homer come out
with a Moral like a sting in the tail: Aristotle says Characters
are either Good or Bad: now Goodness or Badness has nothing to do
with Character. an Apple tree a Pear tree a Horse a Lion, are
Characters but a Good Apple tree or a Bad, is an Apple tree
still: a Horse is not more a Lion for being a Bad Horse. that is
its Character; its Goodness or Badness is another consideration.
  It is the same with the Moral of a whole Poem as with the Moral
Goodness& Morality, are secondary considerations &
belong to Philosophy & not to Poetry, to Exception & not to Rule,
to Accident & not to Substance. the Ancients calld it eating of
the tree of good & evil.
  The Classics, it is the Classics! & not Goths nor Monks, that
Desolate Europe with Wars.                                                                

ON VIRGIL              
Sacred Truth has pronounced that Greece & Rome as Babylon &
Egypt: so far from being parents of Arts & Sciences as they
pretend: were destroyers of all Art.  Homer Virgil & Ovid confirm
this opinion & make us reverence The Word of God, the only light
of antiquity that remains unperverted by War.  Virgil in the
Eneid Book VI. line 848 says Let others study Art: Rome has
somewhat better to do, namely War & Dominion
  Rome & Greece swept Art into their maw & destroyd it     a
Warlike State never can produce Art.  It will Rob & Plunder &
accumulate into one place, & Translate & Copy & Buy & Sell &
Criticise, but not Make.
  Mathematic Form is Eternal in the Reasoning Memory.  Living
Form is Eternal Existence.
  Grecian is Mathematic Form
  Gothic is Living Form" 
Vision of Last Judgment, (E 554)
 "The Last judgment is one of these Stupendous

Visions. I have represented it as I saw it.
to different People it appears differently as every
thing else does for tho on Earth things seem Permanent they are
less permanent than a Shadow as we all know too well
     The Nature of Visionary Fancy or Imagination is very little
Known & the Eternal nature & permanence of its ever Existent
Images is considerd as less permanent than the things of
Vegetative & Generative Nature yet the Oak dies as well as the
Lettuce but Its Eternal Image & Individuality never dies. but
renews by its seed. just as the Imaginative Image
returns by the seed of Contemplative
Thought the Writings of the Prophets illustrate these conceptions
of the Visionary Fancy by their various sublime & Divine Images
as seen in the Worlds of Vision
The Greek Muses which are not Inspiration as the Bible is. 
Reality was Forgot & the Vanities of Time & Space only Rememberd
& calld Reality Such is the Mighty difference between Allegoric
Fable & Spiritual Mystery Let it here be Noted that the Greek
Fables originated in Spiritual Mystery & Real Vision 
and Real Visions Which are lost & clouded in Fable & Alegory
while the Hebrew Bible & the Greek Gospel are
Genuine Preservd by the Saviours Mercy The Nature of my Work is
Visionary or Imaginative it is an Endeavour to Restore the Golden Age
     This world of Imagination is the World of
Eternity it is the Divine bosom into which we shall all go after
the death of the Vegetated body   This World is
Infinite & Eternal whereas the world of Generation or Vegetation
is Finite & Temporal    There Exist
in that Eternal World the Permanent Realities of Every Thing
which we see are reflected in this Vegetable Glass of Nature
     All Things are comprehended in their Eternal Forms in the
Divine body of the Saviour the True Vine of Eternity
The Human Imagination who appeard to Me as Coming to Judgment.
among his Saints & throwing off the Temporal that the Eternal
might be Establishd. around him were seen the Images of
Existences according to a certain order suited to my Imaginative Eye"

Vision of Last Judgment,(E 560) 
 "A Mother
Meets her  Family in the Arms of their Father these are
representations of the Greek Learned & Wise as also of those of
other Nations such as Egypt & Babylon in which were multitudes
who shall meet the Lord coming in the Clouds" 

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