Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Taking Apart Images - Part 8.4 - Children of the Planets: Mercury and His Children - Tools and Occupations

Astrology, as it is seen today, is not something to which I subscribe personally, but during the middle ages and renaissance many areas of life were influenced or affected by astrological information.  Many of the Books of the Planets that are found in the later middle ages (15th-16th century) represent the seven 'planets' and the occupations that tended to fall under each of them.  The seven planets were the moon (Luna), Mercury, Venus, the sun (Sol), Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.  Taking from a 15th century Planet Book text, I have the following concerning Mercury's Children:
My children I faithfully instill / With lust for beauty, greed for skill.
No long journey for them too hard, / Strange new knowledge is their reward.
Their faces are full and pale and round,  / Their bodies white, their limbs unsound,
Their clocks and organs are the best, / Excellent scribes, they take no rest,
Dextrous goldsmiths, painters good, / People praise them; and they should.
They are a smart, hardworking lot, / When asked for help they give it mor.
Starting at the top and going left to right, we have the clockmaker with his astrolabe quadrant, his charts and spring clock.  There is the organ maker with his portative organ...


[Jubilatores contains a sound bite of this type of organ being played, as does How to Build a Portative Organ, though Wolkenstayn Portative contains the size of organ that is likely represented in this drawing.]

 ...and what looks like a pick axe though I suppose it could be something else related only to organ repair and production.


There is the artist with his easle and brush.  This easle is quite similar to the easle in Saint Luke Painting the Virgin.


This next occupation appears to deviate a little from the text.  The text describes scribes (and somewhere else I read that Mercury ruled over scholars, though I can't find that reference currently) and this is a representation of a teacher of children.  Behind the teacher is his desk.  It appears to be permanently open and not like the portable lap desks that can also be found during this period.


Along the bottom can be found the goldsmith with his forge, tongs, anvil and hammer...




...followed by what appears to be a medical professional or possible mortician with a tool at the end of his table.


I am uncertain what the dining table with two people eating is supposed to represent, but it does not appear to be an occupation.

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