Blame Vulcan (not Iceland) (Mmm… Marginalia #71)

It never really occurred to me until this past week, but I guess it makes sense. We get the English word “Volcano” from the accusative form of Vulcan’s Latin name. With all those stranded European travelers hurling accusations at a certain volcano* of late, it should be an easy bit of etymology to remember.

In honor of said accused volcano, I offer you this image, taken from the Farnese Hours, a late sixteenth-century** book of hours currently held at the Morgan Library (MS M69):

The Index of Christian Art identifies the man with outstretched arm as Vulcan himself, igniting the fire within a smoking volcano (though if you ask me, it might just be a purple cloud near a mountain peak).  The nude man surfing down the smoke plume (or nearby mountain), however, has yet to be identified.  Here’s a closeup image.  Let me know if you have any ideas.

*Sure, I could ctrl-c + ctrl-v the volcano’s name from a web news source and pretend I know how to spell it, but what would be the point?
**I hope you’ll forgive me for using a late sixteenth-century image for my Monday Marginalia post, but volcanoes don’t feature very heavily in medieval art, due to the decided lack of active volcanoes in continental Europe.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Dr. Virago

    It's Sasquatch, of course! 🙂

  • Got Medieval

    I endorse that theory. Sasquatch's three main characteristics are blurriness, nakedness, and mysteriousness, and this guy's got all three nesses in spades.

  • debg

    If there's snow, shouldn't he be the Abdominal Snowman? Maybe he'll belly slide down.

  • Dr. Virago

    "Sasquatch's three main characteristics are blurriness, nakedness, and mysteriousness."

    Heh. Exactly!

  • svalar-unnir

    What, there's no illustrated (marginaliated?) Saxo or King's Mirror?

  • irenedelse
  • irenedelse

    Argh. Annoying Blogger interface. As I was trying to say, Thor and Zeus must be mighty pissed too. Look at all the lightning in the ash cloud:

  • nICK.

    Sasquatch is rightly excited about the massive, strategically-placed outcropping in the foreground.

  • jedesto

    Whatever his name, his progeny are still running around reaching for the stars and watching for "intelligent life" out there!

  • Ceirseach

    Well, his left arm seems to be attached rather awkwardly and stiffly. So I suggest Grendel. Clearly Grendel ran away and hid under a volcano, now that his bottom-of-the-bog-lurking-with-mother lair with discovered. Possibly Vulcan is his father, and this is dad's way of persuading him to finally move out.

    Not that this means he can't be the origin of the sasquatch legend, of course. Who is more primordial wild man than Grendel?

  • Judy

    Well, Vulcan reminds me a lot of Michaelangelo's God creating Adam, except that here he is sticking his finger in a hole, which is different. I would like to find Sasquatch in the Last Judgement or Noe's Flood, but he doesn't seem to be there. He does remind me a bit of God seen from behind creating something in a corner in one of the other ceiling frescoes, though.

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