Continuous narration through scenic depictions : the Apollonius pictus

Title: Continuous narration through scenic depictions : the Apollonius pictus
Variant title:
  • Kontinuální narace skrze scénická zobrazení v rukopisu Apollonius pictus
Source document: Convivium. 2016, vol. 3, iss. 1, pp. 106-121
  • ISSN
    2336-3452 (print)
    2336-808X (online)
Type: Article
Summary language
License: Not specified license
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A unique narrative pictorial cycle survives in the Apollonius pictus, an Ottonian copy of a Late Antique illustrated romance, the Historia Apollonii. The fragment of the cycle depicts a continuous narration from the perspective of the romance's storyteller who was careful to maintain the linearity of time and space when retelling the adventurous story of King Apollonius and his family. The contaminated text of this fragmentary manuscript underwent at least two steps of transition which transformed the depictions to an extent which is difficult to asses. Instead of the individual depictions, however, I focus on their cyclic cohesion which likely fossilized the essence of a Late Antique illustrated model. As an experimental method, I analyzed the pictorial cycle of the Apollonius pictus as a cycle of scenes by the dramatic scene division. I demonstrate that the pictorial cycle carefully follows division by action space and tends to depict dialogues separately. Time to time the illustrator conflates more scenes within one image space or fragments one scene in two depictions. These pictorial interpretations highlight the Christian understanding of the romance, the praise of virtuous acts, the punishment of evil deeds, the power of chastity, divine intervention, the act of mercy, and moral growth.