IMC 2008: Sessions

Session 612: The Tree as Symbol, Allegory, and Structural Device in Medieval Art and Thought, V: The Tree in Paradise, the Tree and the Cross

Tuesday 8 July 2008, 11.15-12.45

Organiser:Andrea Worm, Cambridge University Library, University of Cambridge
Moderator/Chair:Michael Staunton, School of History, University College Dublin
Paper 612-aTrees of Gold: Royal Adaptations of Paradise in Dante's Purgatory
(Language: English)
Erik Schoonhoven, University of Amsterdam
Paper 612-bThe Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life: Two Trees in Paradise (Genesis 2. 9)
(Language: English)
Ute Dercks, Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, Max-Planck-Institut, Firenze
Index terms: Art History - General, Art History - Sculpture
Paper 612-cThe Tree as a Symbol in French Royal Ideology, c.1180-1314
(Language: English)
Guy Perry, School of History, University of Leeds

The relationship between the trees in Paradise and the cross in its significance as the ‘Lignum Vitae’ is of major importance; first of all because of the inherent temporal perspective – the Tree of Knowledge and the beginning of history with the Fall of Man, the Salvation of Man through Christ’s Death on the Cross, and the Tree in the New Paradise. A telling example for the interpretation of the Tree in Paradise is the the way in which Dante incorporated it into the exile theme in the purgatory (V.1). With the Fall of Man, the Tree of Knowledge turns into the Tree of Death; the dichotomy between the two Trees in Paradise, the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life (V.2) is linked to the representation of history (as in session II). 13th-century French literati drew on twig and tree-based imagery, in particular, to buttress their notion of a burgeoning Capetian monarchy. Naturally enough, though, this was not without a strong religious dimension (V.3).