marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

The Idea of the Labyrinth

The Idea of the Labyrinth: from Classical Antiquity through the Middle Ages by Penelope Reed Doob

An analysis not so much of labyrinths -- though she discusses the ancient treatment of them -- as what was thought about them. For instance, a labyrinth can be a symbol of marvelous artistry, or even of creation itself. On the other hand, it can be an inextricable condition -- invariably a symbol of something bad, such as sin or error (which, in its original meaning was "wandering astray"). Or again, it can be an impenetrable condition -- usually bad, sometimes good, as a symbol of learning and so finally arriving at the center.

Some of the comparisons seem a bit strained, but it's full of interesting stuff.
Tags: ethos, history reviews: medieval

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