THE PICTORIAL LANGUAGE OF HIERONYMUS BOSCH
In the foreground in the centre (see Fig. 87 and Plate H) a fish is swimming in the waste water. It has been steered out of its true element. This is the already familiar picture of the Christian church, and Bosch shows what he felt to be lacking in this church in his time. The fish -- ichthys, gasping for air is largely covered by a red cardinal's cloak, armoured and equipped with signs of war-like power. A sword hangs from its side; the round symbol of the earth, which we met round the neck of the heron in the group discussed above, and which can also be seen in the Mars ship in mid-air above on the right, can be found again on the shield on its back. The fish has other characteristics of a warship: in the times of Bosch the Popes had temporal power and their own earthly domain; they made war, politics, and intrigued, like all other rulers. An old witch is steering the figure by means of a wooden cooking-spoon; a totally black figure beside her is fishing.
Fig. 87. HIERONYMUS BOSCH: Fish and the duck ship of education (detail from The Temptations of St. Anthony).
The Roman church was steering towards the winning of bread, i.e. the acquisition of earthly possessions in the widest sense. One need only think of the innumerable institutions of the church which were constantly fishing for worldly goods. The mast of the fish-ship has been erected upon the iron armour of external power, and its stay-rope has been fastened to the red of the cardinal's cloak. In this picture Bosch wants to indicate the condition of the administration of the church in his time.
A shrivelled-up schoolmaster has hidden himself in a vessel which has the shape of a hollow drake (see Fig. 87 and Plate H). It has already been seen that the drake is the symbol of active education. The figure is pulling a tiny skiff on a rope, in which a young pupil is sitting who is tearing the hair from his head in misery and anger. A holy white stork that has been plucked is grinning at him, i.e. what is sacred, beautiful and true is in reality withheld from him and only arid rules, dead formulae and empty words have become his portion in education. It looks as though it is the schoolmaster who is paddling on the figure of education with his hands. But in reality a black woman, who carries a cage on her back is steering it; she is in fact holding the rope. The cage, also found in the picture of The Prodigal Son, is the symbol of being imprisoned. Within it there is imprisoned a small ape, the symbol for the stunted physical body of the young pupil who still wants to play. This shows what the poor children feel if they are forced to direct their souls which are longing to learn, towards dead subjects offered in the form of dull rigid ideas. The dark old hag camouflaged under an innocent red mantle keeps the whole in motion by means of a rope; a ray, the symbol of fear, serves as both sail and banner for the ship. This was how Bosch experienced education even then. The wooden spoon is missing; in those times, schoolmasters were badly paid. We discuss what is written on the roll of parchment which is lying before the schoolmaster in Note 19. Note 2 The Prodigal Son and Note 17 St. Anthony mention more about the tradition which unites schoolmaster and duck. For an historical comment on the spectacles worn by the schoolmaster see Note 18.
We have seen how Anthony, behind whom Bosch conceals himself, has demonstrated the state of the Christian church (the fish) and of the education of the young human race (the drake). Above this last group the main aspects of the living together of people in middle Europe are shown by Bosch, in the distorted figure of Mary with the child and Joseph on the flight into Egypt, surrounded by the three kings (see Fig. 88 and Plate H). Seen superficially this appears to be blasphemous; but in reality it is a spiritual vision, in which the positive element has, as is Bosch's wont, been painted small and inconspicuously.
Fig. 88. HIERONYMUS BOSCH: Materialism and the Christ impulse (see Plate H) (detail, The Temptations of St. Anthony).
This reference to the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt expresses that personified wisdom had to flee to the darkness of Egypt. The name Egypt, literally translated, means black earth, which can also be called dark matter. In Egypt the philosophy arose which finally led to the worship of matter; the idea of preserving corpses from decay by embalming them points to the beginning of materialism. As is described in the Gospel of St. Matthew, Joseph, a descendant of the wise King Solomon led the child of Wisdom and his mother out of the power of Herod and was forced to seek shelter in Egypt for a time [xii].
What was it Bosch intended to demonstrate in his rigidified mother and the mummified child? Before this question can be answered and the picture described, something else must be considered that will help us to grasp and understand the painter's conception.
In ancient times Maria-Sophia was regarded as the personification of cosmic wisdom (the name Sophia means wisdom, and the cathedral in Constantinople that was named Hagia Sophia was dedicated to Divine Wisdom). The wisdom of the stars is the bread of heaven; therefore the Mother of God is pictured either in a cloak full of stars or of ears of corn according to whether it is desired to portray her light-bringing or her nourishing aspect. In those old times the wisdom of the stars kindled in man a form of knowledge which was not then intellectual, but which has since been transformed and developed into modern intellectual knowledge. This knowledge became the "alma mater" -- bounteous mother -- of the Universities, and natural science and technology are the fruits of this materialistic world philosophy. Man has gradually learned to control the world of matter.
Bosch has painted the representation of the rigidified virgin of the stars and her wasted child, materialism. The witchlike mother is holding the infant on her lap with one wooden hand; both sit in a split tree-trunk -- the image of superstition -- which expresses the view that materialism is madness before God or superstition. The snake's tail with which this false Sophia is furnished is the same which completes the snake-form of Lucifer. This image of superstition, the wooden mother, is borne in the waste water by a giant mouse -- but she herself does not guide her mount. The mouse has already been described as the symbol of grey everyday occurrences  and it is easy to grasp that Bosch here indicates that this form of knowledge cannot lead to wisdom, but allows itself to be diverted by a multitude of everyday needs, and thus can only serve a technology that aims to relieve all these needs.
Joseph, who according to the Gospel of St. Matthew harkened to the voice of his angel also stands here in the background. Unlike the other figures that surround him he is no caricature because now, as then, there are men -- though only in the background -- who are guarded by a great shield from the tumult of the world. He represents a group of men who listen to the word of the Spirit.
These three caricatures of kings bring no gifts, but are representatives of the egotistic forces of personality which exist in society. It seems to us justifiable to draw a comparison between the true three kings of the Gospel of St. Matthew, and the three estates of the realm in the 15th and 16th centuries. At the beginning of the first century the representatives of the archetypal capacities of the human soul, thinking, feeling, and will, brought the fruits of their activities in the form of gold, frankincense and myrrh to the Divine Child. In Bosch's times the three estates -- the clergy or, according to Socrates the philosophers, the aristocracy, and the third estate, the bourgeoisie, were supposed to bring their gifts to the world. These three estates were held rigidly apart in the Middle Ages. The spiritual leaders were supposed to cultivate the spiritual life, the aristocracy to foster justice, and the bourgeoisie the economic life.
To the left of the group there is painted a knight who is setting forth to hunt with a falcon, and carries a hunting horn. He is spurred, and sits on a creature that is half horse, half jar, and he is wearing a large shield against his knee. He is a representation of the second estate of the Middle Ages, the spiritual leaders, or its spiritual life. That is no falcon on his left hand, but a mockingbird, a symbol through which Bosch has already expressed so much in other places. This has already been explained and the meaning of the mockingbird here can be taken as read. The jar which forms the rear half of the horse on which the king is mounted is painted directly below the emblem of mockery. As it is the image standing for the container of the forces of the soul this jar should be standing upright, but here it is horizontal, causing at least half of the soul content to be wasted. This rear half of the mount can also be seen in connection with the stupid cow on the left inner wing. Stupidity also leaves everything to take its course.
The king has the wings of a jay instead of arms. The jay, as a symbol, is to be found several times on the central panel of The Garden of Heavenly Delights (see Prodigal Son Note 2)  (p. 94). It is the representation of Luciferic forces which can tempt man to fanatical enthusiasms that take his attention away from the real needs of the earth [xiii]. This king in a beautiful robe of feathers bears a pseudo-wisdom which will not help him to action. His head is a thistle. This straw-like plant, which grows on poor soil, belongs with the symbol of the jay, as is also the case on the central panel of the Hortus Deliciarum. Here too this flower expresses that only Satanic ideas grow on such bad soil. The red cap with flame-like decoration again indicates the Luciferic nature of this king. The armour, spurs and shield are the signs of his desire to exercise power on earth.
The king on the far right, who represents the aristocracy, has few attributes. The heron, symbol of death, looks forth from his vizor. This probably means that the aristocracy had become more and more an empty shell. The originally self-perpetuating race of the aristocracy, which relied upon the blood tie, had the task of guarding the land and its people, and of exercising all other judicial rights within the state to keep the balance between the two other estates. Only the outer form, the suit of armour, has remained in this figure.
The king in the middle looks like a well-to-do burgher of the Burgundian time: proudly he sits on his horse, in flamboyant dress; imitating the aristocracy he gazes haughtily about him. A plant-like object, which is in fact the sign of a florin, sits on top of an apple on his head. This man represents the third estate -- the bourgeoisie. Because the sign of money is hovering above his head, the merchant, who is growing rich and powerful, bears the fruit of the fall of man in his head; for Bosch always paints above people's heads what is going on inside them. The urge to earn money is indicated by the sign of the guilder or florin.
Right in front of this large group a small unobtrusive child is standing erect in the water. Neither his arms nor legs can be seen. The small body's chest protrudes like a dove's; on his head stands a small bowl containing food, in which there is a spoon. This child has a remarkably beautiful and serious face, the same that Bosch has painted on a picture now in Vienna, which is justly entitled The Playing Jesus Child (see Fig. 89). This key theme immediately elevates all that is negative in the large group from the sphere of mere criticism to a mighty statement of the recognition of all that is lacking in society, and at the same time gives an indication for a possible positive future. For that which descended in the form of a dove upon Jesus at the Baptism in Jordan, is symbolised here in the child with the bowl of gruel on his head standing in the waste water. Note again that the significant thoughts in a man's head are painted above it.
Fig. 89. HIERONYMUS BOSCH: The playing Jesus Child. Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum (reverse side of Fig. 48).
Goethe wrote "we see the Master in his economy". Bosch once again shows himself to be a master-painter. In the fewest possible brushstrokes he shows that in the child -- the principle of the Son -- there were prepared the forces not only of spiritual nourishment (gruel) but also the creative forces (the spoon as emblem of creativity) and that He who said "I am the bread of life" has made man free to make use of these forces. The child in the waste water has neither arms nor legs, by which Bosch would say that this child would be taken up and carried, as Christophorus lifted and carried Him, thus bearing the heaviest of all burdens across the water onto solid land. Bosch has painted Christophorus; the picture hangs in the Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam.
If humanity does not deny its true nature, when there are more bearers of the Christ who will raise the child up out of the water, then there will be a possibility that all the other figures will be transformed into positive ones. Then the infant of materialism can be released from its swaddling bands, and knowledge of matter, which has previously overwhelmed everything else, can become changed into a force that serves. The other child, in the group that is a commentary on education, which is in a vertical line below the other two children, will then no longer despair, but will receive an education that is worthy of the human being. The three kings will be metamorphosed into kings who truly lead and who can improve the social life of man; only then will all men become brothers.
On the left, beside the platform and immediately next to the group that has just been discussed, there are three fellows standing in the waste-water; one is dressed as a priest and has a human form but the head of a pig -- he is pointing to a particular place in an open book; the second is a badger/long-tailed monkey figure with a reversed funnel on his head; the third is a cloaked figure in which a heron is hidden; it has a nest and an egg on its head (see Fig. 90 and Plate H). The typical signs of the powers that are working against man's thinking, feeling and will have been discussed previously  as they appear on a round painting by Bosch (Fig. 91, Note 20). Suffice it here to say that the first devil attacks the head, the seat of thinking, the second the heart, the seat of feeling, and the third the limbs, the seat of the will. If one would call the three powers of opposition by their old names they would be Ahriman, Lucifer, and Assurias. Here, standing in the waste water to the right of the platform a man is painted with two demons behind him; the signs of the three opposing powers are used in these three figures. The man, who is dressed as a priest, has the head of a pig. The pig is known to be very intelligent if it wishes to gratify its instinctual desires. This priest can think cleverly, like the pig, about what he is reading. He is provoked by the false and selfish badger/long-tailed monkey behind him. This luciferic demon has a reversed funnel on his head; thus he is shielded from the rain of ideas which can descend from heaven. In the background there stands a concealed heron, in other words, death. He bears a nest with one egg in it on his head. From this it can be deduced that once again a germ is hinted at, which still needs to be brooded upon and hatched, as has already been described in section 6 Anthony. The egg-germ, the tendency to materialistic, dead thinking, rests upon the head of the heron. The heron (death) and the spoonbill (Ahriman) are akin, and here there is a figure representing dead thinking with that germ "in" its head, which will later manifest as materialism. All this must be seen in relation to that which appears through the rent in the priest's robe, the skeleton (death) and blood (desire). The book bearing a seal from which the priest is reading is probably the Apocalypse of St. John, or Holy Writ in general. If all this is correct Bosch, in this detail, wished to put before us a representation of the fact that the holy books are often falsely interpreted by scoundrels.
Fig. 90. HIERONYMUS BOSCH: The three fellows in the waste water (detail, The Temptations of St. Anthony).
Fig. 91. HIERONYMUS BOSCH; The three opposing forces attacking man. Rotterdam, Museum Boymans-van-Beuningen.
The complementary figure to the group discussed above is the figure of a man with a top hat and well groomed beard. He also appears on the central panel of The Hay Wain triptych. Here a cloth is spread out before him on which is drawn a severed foot; a fetter lies beside it. (See Plate G and Plate I). There is a picture from the studio of Bosch, in private ownership (see Note 19), which only consists of the central panel of The Temptations of St. Anthony. On this the content of this section is more clearly shown (see Fig. 92). Here the little man can be seen to be surrounded by several Signs of the Zodiac, and his significance becomes plainer: he is one of the magicians and astrologers who wandered about the land. His horoscopes and prophecies, which declare a man's destiny to be completely fixed and laid down, take from the individual a portion of his liberty. This is shown by the severed foot and the fetter. In the purgatorium of The Garden of Heavenly Delights this severed foot can also be found beside the writing demon, and has the same meaning. Bosch, who it is clear from the Hortus Deliciarum [xiv], was familiar with the Zodiac and planets must have hated the swindlers who degraded true astrology to a worthless game, as frequently happens today with the signs of the constellations of the Zodiac. Here again the nest with its egg is present, for here too the demon of the death of the soul has sowed his seed, like a wasp burrowing in a maggot to lay her egg in it. The two pictures can be regarded as the dogmatic and false explanation of the Bible on one side (right) and occult superstition on the other (left) (Fig. 92).
Fig. 92. HIERONYMUS BOSCH: Detail from appointing in private ownership. The magician or trickster and astrologer, surrounded by the Signs of the Zodiac, a shackle to the right and a severed foot (not visible in this picture -- see Fig. 143)·
Once Bosch has shown in the lower section of the picture how man developed, and how church, education and state are developing, we can now learn to recognise the political situation of those times as seen by Anthony (Fig. 93 and Plate I). It needs to be re-emphasized that Bosch conceals himself in the character of Anthony, and in this way wishes to make his views clear without risking his life.
Fig. 93. HIERONYMUS BOSCH: Picture of the Inquisition (see Plate I) (detail, The Temptations of St. Anthony).
A curious procession is advancing from the left; an armoured man of violence within a withered and rotting tree, who holds in his mailed fist a curious creature, which combines within it the traces of several heraldic beasts. In his left hand he holds a thorny cane, from the same arm a bow is hanging and on the tree above is the huntsman's hat. Before him are his dogs. Who is the quarry of this hunt? The Inquisition were mostly chosen from the Dominican Order. They were always sent forth in pairs as spies, and as has already been said, they were called the hounds of the Lord -- domini canes. This pair of hounds shows what is the nature of the power that is advancing on shoes made of bones -- it is the Inquisition. Various noble houses had identified themselves with the Inquisition of the Popes, for their mutual support. Inquisition and battles over inheritance went hand in hand. Thus the creature that is walking beside the violent man could be called the "heraldic animal". The dreadful servants follow in the train of this dual power.
Firstly there is cruelty with its disgusting aspect. The executioner with his instruments of torture as an emblem on his shoulder, and a broken jug as a cover for his head. The vessel of the soul is broken, the flowers in it are the same as those on the cult table in the centre, and show what flowers grow from such cults. Consistent with this there are the shrike and heron painted on the torture wheel, as symbols of death. Beside Cruelty stands the nightjar knight, with a huge dead pig. This symbol is familiar. When men come together in large numbers they easily get beside themselves. If they are provoked they carry out shameful deeds, of which they would never have been capable as individuals (e.g. a lynching). At such a time they are not properly awake, and act as if in a dream. They think that they have slain what is evil (the pig) in their fellow man. In truth they bear the forces of the pig in and about themselves. Here the theme of the right outer panel recurs. (In explanation of the executed pig we note that at that time animals were still executed in the same way as criminals.)
The fire that is painted above the group that has just been described shows clearly the havoc wrought on the land by the Inquisition and wars of inheritance and their consequences (see Fig. 94, Fig. 100 and Plate I).
Fig. 94. HIERONYMUS BOSCH: Fire and destruction (detail, The Temptations of St. Anthony).
In the realm of the spirit (in mid-air) Diabolos is riding on the fish of pseudo-Christianity; the devil has flown off with the ladder i.e. with the possibility of mounting higher; the apocalyptic horsemen appear, fire bolts are shooting downwards; the "winged egg", that new beginning which is still floating in the air and would make a way for itself after the catastrophe, is straddled by a frog-like creature (see Note 9 and Fig. 98). This can also be seen on the left inner wing, on the left in the air, while in Fig. 99 too, the toad appears, as the first being to meet the one who has died.
In the foreground of the landscape an army is seen, in the act of withdrawing, having previously set a whole village on fire. A farmstead, with its barn and all that belongs to it stands quite undamaged, separated from the burning village only by a narrow canal; the inhabitants can be seen to carry on a normal life, quite unconcerned about the destruction of the neighbouring village. A woman is even standing in the doorway gossiping with a man who is tranquilly sitting on a bench; no one looks at the fire. This is a striking illustration of the lack of sympathy of people for the sufferings of others.
Only a narrow strip of water divides tranquillity and the most terrible catastrophe (perhaps this portrays differing political views). The paintings are not discussed in this book from the point of view of their technical accomplishments, but it must be pointed out how perfectly the landscape is rendered from an artistic point of view. Bosch's reproductions of nature and symbols are perfect in their artistic execution.
The main theme of the central group (again painted small) can be found in the aperture of a castle that has fallen into ruins, where the Risen One appears and gives His blessing; beside Him there stands an altar with a crucifix and a burning light.
The space where this altar stands is also surrounded by demons (see Fig. 100 and Plate B and Plate J). A strange group has gathered around a cult-table by the parapet that bounds the outer court. A priestess with a snake hood, who is standing in the outer court holds out the cult-drink in a beaker. A half-veiled priestess beside her, whose hood is covered by a net of thorns reaches out for the bread; behind both these women who have an Egyptian look about them, an Ahrimanic being whose spoonbill beak is metamorphosed for the purpose is blowing smoke out of a pseudo-trumpet. An Ethiopian woman has just come through an archway; she is bearing a shallow silver dish on which a small frog-like manikin is sitting, which is holding a large egg in its uplifted arms. Two men are approaching the cult table. The green one, with a pig's head on which there sits an owl, is holding a lute, and holds a dressed-up fool's dog on a lead. The other, a pale old man with a hurdy gurdy, is limping along behind him on a wooden leg. Above his back, on the wall, a toad is sitting. With the Ethiopian woman and the other two priestesses these two form one group. To the right, beside the table, separated from it by a cicada, [Librarian's Comment: "united to it by a cicada," more like it, particularly to the "woman's" dress, which only appears to be a woman's dress, but is really the wings (like a cicada's) of St. Anthony similar to those seen on the avenging "angels" in Fig. 99. In The Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosencreutz, wings are offered to the Initiates and they are told to constantly keep them with them. The woman's headdress here is similar to the angel's "crown" in Fig. 99, and St. Anthony's peace sign is similar to its upturned nose. The colors are even the same: light and dark apricot wings on green bodies. I see no "true mass" being contrasted with a "false mass" here. The two groups are united by the similarities of the cicada to the woman's dress, the cicada and hanging sword to the segmented phallic cross hanging in St. Anthony's groin area, the key [yoni] held in the hand of the "pig" man and his sword [penis] to the woman and St. Anthony, the black hood worn by the Ahrimanic being blowing the trumpet to the hoods worn by the nun and schoolmaster, and the trumpet blowing smoke in the direction of the "second group." The scene is a whole, not two.] there is another group: a woman in a magnificent red garment and striking headdress contemporary with the time of Bosch, and Anthony in his monk's habit -- both are leaning against the parapet. Their unity is not only expressed by their posture; the painter has underlined it by the way in which the train of the woman's dress, emerging from a huge bustle, swings in harmony with the quiet folds of Anthony's monk's robe (see Fig. 96. Plate K.)
Fig. 95. HIERONYMUS BOSCH: Detail from the central panel, The Temptations of St. Anthony. Cult table, pillar and the bridge to the lime-kiln death.
Fig. 96. HIERONYMUS BOSCH: The different aspects of man (see Plate K) (detail, The Temptations of St. Anthony).
The first group about this round table has been designated as the "group of the black mass". In our view a cult of the body is being carried out at this table which is in opposition to the Christian sacrament of communion, but where bread and wine are likewise used. The purpose of this cult is to give men life forces which only have a brief duration without engaging the spiritual part of the human being, and in this way only to serve man's physical part and thereby the forces of the tempters that have found a home there. There have always been magic means to counteract the processes of ageing and becoming frail. These temporarily whipped up the life-forces, but simultaneously weakened and damaged soul and spirit. The Christian followers of St. John and the true alchemists censured these methods which artificially stimulated the lower life-forces; this can be easily verified by studying their writings. A single typical example is given here: In The Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosencreutz (Anno 1459)  at the beginning of the fourth day we find that the lion in the well is holding a large tablet on which is written:
Hermes the Lord here represents the uniting function of feeling as between will and thinking, which is also often depicted as a lion (cf. Note 8 where an example will be found). As the Christ stands between the will quality of the Father and the thinking quality of the Holy Ghost, the heart of the lion is used as a symbol for the Christ.
Again, on the seventh day the Knights of the Golden Stone are given five commandments, which begin with the words:
"Ye gentlemen, knights, thus shall ye swear ..." and then the fifth commandment is "Ye shall not desire to live longer than is the Will of God".
Jeroen Bosch [xv] must have known what is quoted above from Rosicrucian sources which only came to be written down about a hundred years later. A man must care properly for his health, not in order that he may enjoy a longer life, but to strive for a maximum in achievement in the divine-spiritual sense. Bosch now paints next to each other the two things hinted at above:
1. The true Mass, by which, if the Christ is spiritually present, men can be "healed" of the hurts of the Fall and its consequences. [?]
2. The false mass, at which the life-forces are temporarily stimulated in order to enjoy physical life.
The painter shows that the old man with the hurdy gurdy (symbol of the physical body) who has been crippled by the hardening processes, and the man with the lute (symbol of the life-body) (see Fig. 97 and the "musicians' hell", in the purgatorium [xvi]) are approaching the table at which a false and only temporary medicine is offered for their damaged bodies, i.e. the withered life-forces. A toad is painted above the old man with the hurdy-gurdy; for the pig-headed man with the idiot's dog and an owl on his head a prepared drink is held out. The bread too is ready, and both come from the same kitchen -- while a frog with an egg is brought in by a black third priestess. None of these symbols are unknown to the reader, and it is clear that the old man hopes to be able for a time to feel himself again a potent "male" (the toad) and that the pighead is concerned to rejuvenate his procreative powers, while in the process of stimulating the life-forces those of the intellect (the owl) will also be excited. He wears on his breast the round emblem of the Mars-like earth forces, which fits in with the whole. The fool-dog emphasizes the habit of sniffing out sensations which would be appropriate to puberty, but are here ridiculous.
Fig. 97. HIERONYMUS BOSCH: Detail from the purgatorium (The Garden of Heavenly Delights). Madrid, Prado Museum
It is mentioned in the Golden Legend that while travelling in a wasteland Anthony found a silver bowl, and said to himself "How did this bowl get here, where there is no trace of men? If a traveller had dropped it he surely could not have lost it, because of its size? This is your trick, oh devil, but you will never be able to deflect my will". Upon this he found a great heap of pure gold, but he fled from this gold as if it were fire.
We shall return to the gold that can be found in the two beakers; the silver dish here is the silver bowl on which sexual rejuvenation is offered by a black priestess who is herself full of vitality. She enters from a neighbouring building where she has been celebrating her secret cult of birth. The fainting soul that we have come to know in Fig. 65, and which is now sitting on the silver dish, bears the egg, a new beginning of the power of the life-forces. All this symbolises what Anthony avoided receiving from the devil in the desert. The silver dish is the so-called H moon", which expresses those soul-forces in which human feelings dwell. When the devil mirrors himself in this dish men experience everything in a distorted form.
One more explanation must be added, namely why the small naked animal on the dish has been called both the fainting soul and the frog. It is the case with imaginative pictures that they show certain aspects which overlap each other. Fig. 98 shows that in the time of Bosch the frog was regarded as the progenitor of children, i.e. sexual potency; it is clear in this picture that the frog, standing before the Tree of Life, is bringing children. A certain "Christof Fros(ch) hower" in Zurich, made use of this little picture and had his name written upon it because several frogs are on it and it made a sort of sign for his business. We have not been able to find the original picture without the added name. This reproduction is from a copy in the possession of the bookshop "Erasmus", Basel. The picture gives clear evidence of the idea that the symbol of the frog must be considered together with the forces of procreation. Various fairy tales point in this direction. The Tree of Life in the background also reinforces this idea.
Fig. 98. Emblem of the bookprinter Christoph Froshower in Zurich. A copy exists in the bookshop 'Erasmus', Basel.
In addition, while the discussion is side-tracked -- the notched tail-trains must be pointed out, which are worn by the old men, and which correspond to what is seen in the demoniac figures in that picture by Bosch in the Munich Pinakothek (Fig. 99) which we would like to call "the revival of the individual soul in the purgatorium after death". In that picture various people are ascending from their graves as soul-images to undergo their experience of hell-fire. The tormentors of the soul appear, wearing the same kind of notched tail as the two here, and the first thing that is experienced by the individual who awakens in this region is his toad, his sex when he was a physical being on earth.
Fig. 99. HIERONYMUS BOSCH: Detail from a picture known as a fragment of a Last Judgment, which we should like to call "revival of the individual soul in the purgatorium". Munich, alte Pinakothek.
To return to the cult-table -- the three priestesses are the counterpart of the three kings that were found in section 26. There, three male figures were appropriate where the birth of spiritual forces in the soul (the spirit-child) was concerned, but here the figures are female, because the scene deals with the birth of natural man, which has always been felt to be directed by goddesses. Man's memory that he had come forth from the eternal womb of nature was the content of ancient moon mysteries.
The comparison with the three kings is plain also because one of the priest kings from the East, who was named Caspar, was an Ethiopian, and the third priestess here is also a black woman. Caspar represents the still unconscious, dark goodwill of man. In the black priestess the dark colour expresses the fact that embryonic development takes place in the dark of the metabolic realm. Historically, cults of the mother goddesses have continued from the times of the matriarchies up to the beginning of the Christian era. Remnants of such cults in all possible variations in decadent form are still historically demonstrable in the Middle Ages; undoubtedly Bosch knew of them and saw through them. By confronting The Risen One here with a frog cult he lifts the occurrence into the imaginative spiritual sphere and underlines the decadence of the false cult of the body and its life. The "works of the woman" as these cults could be briefly entitled because blood there has the chief role, are replaced by the work of the new bond or covenant. As man strives to unite with the forces of the Christ his own ego becomes the generating force out of which all life renews itself; he experiences his spirit as eternally masculine, his soul as eternally feminine as expressed in the language of mythology.
This brings us to the point that in our view was the master-painter's highest goal. The withered, senile old man represents essentially the aged physical body, because every source of rejuvenation is denied to it. The green one in front of him represents another aspect of man, namely his life-forces. Green through and through from overweening life-forces, the drive for enjoyment (the pig) and sniffing (the dog) dominates him with the result that only earthly material intelligence dwells in his head (the owl).
The four receiving figures at the cult table can justifiably be regarded as the unfolding of one being. In this way the dried up ancient is the picture of the old physical body which is imbued with the forces of death. The green one with the green trailing tendrils is a picture of the life body in which the desire to accept all that comes from the earth (the pig) to the extent of becoming stupefied -- suggested by the dog -- is inherent; the force of intelligence -- the owl -- also belongs to this. The woman with the conspicuous bustle and train can be regarded as the representation of the soul aspect.
Anthony in his simple dark garb would then be the complete expression of this unfolded being, and would represent the fourth member of the four aspects of a human being -- the ego. As has been said, there are good grounds for such an interpretation; this is not to say that what was said previously about these figures is not equally valid, for it is possible to recognise the greatness of Bosch as seer and painter in his ability to lift several layers of experience into consciousness, each of which is suggestively present. The woman in the life of Anthony, who is painted on the right inner wing in the air beside him on the fish, and who here is designated as his soul, is an example of this. For does not a man's wife represent for him as far as possible his soul-component? In our picture the soul of Anthony is reproduced on two levels. One, in the woman who kneels beside Anthony, and as far as she can, "accompanies" his true being. She could be described as a soul permeated by Christianity. The other is that part of the soul which turns to the natural processes of the body. This part is painted here as a grasshopper or cicada, and stands like a sword separating Anthony and his wife on one side from the old man and the pig-headed one on the other. It is directly opposite the three priestesses at the table. This cicada, which is pressing forward to the cult table, is determined to share the food and drink that is offered on the earth as the bread and wine of life. It has exactly the same shape as the lower part of the woman beside Anthony, but is smaller, and grey-blue in colour. It wants to imbibe unabashed what is offered, whether it be physical sensations or experiences of the soul which are connected with the sound of cicadas at night by moonlight or other romantic notions.
Probably this species of cicada (the symbol of pleasure as a source of excitement) is a reference to an old Greek legend, which tells of the artists Euonomus and Aristou, who had undertaken a contest in music in which a cicada played a part.
Anthony had rejected all this in the form of the silver moon dish in the desert, and had recognised it as a cunning gift of Lucifer. As we have now met the "silver dish" and its effects which is mentioned in the Golden Legend, we can also recognise the "great quantity of pure gold" of which the story speaks. Gold is always the symbol of the wisdom of the sun, and the great quantity of false gold with which in the legend the devil wished to tempt Anthony denotes treacherous pseudo sun-forces. The golden beaker at the false cult table is an allusion to those sun-forces which in reality weave and work in the etheric sphere and are only misused here.
We shall find another allusion to treacherous pseudo-wisdom in the neighbouring group; there the theme of Anthony as an ego amid the forces of his soul is further explored.
To the right, on the other side of the steps (see Figs. 96, 101 and Plate J), two figures are painted which are related to Anthony and his companion in different ways. Anyone who describes these figures as demons has not really understood them. Both the feminine nun-like figure as well as the one in front of her who is dressed like a schoolmaster, have beautiful dignified and intelligent faces.
Only their physical development has been curtailed. The female figure only consists of a head, trunk and arms; she lacks the lower part of the body. The masculine figure lacks chest and trunk, the legs are joined to his neck. Both sit with their backs propped against the thin wall of the parapet surrounding the outer court of the sanctuary and this wall is again supported by the pillar of the old covenant to which we shall return later. The woman is reaching out towards a bowl which is being offered to her by Anthony's companion. The man has a golden beaker beside him but no arms with which to give or take it. Their deep black hoods are their most characteristic features, and both the nun's hood and the master's cap hang down low. These head-dresses assist in the recognition of what Bosch intended to show in this group. Bosch expresses what is in the heads of his figures by what he places on them, as was said before. The black cap represents in the widest sense that life of imagination which had concerned itself with what is dark and material and of the earth.
In the narrower sense it means the self-centred thinking that has cut man off from the spiritual world above. The development of reason which was initiated in the culture of the Greco-Roman period of man's history had come to full fruition in the Middle Ages. The development of feeling in the soul goes hand in hand with that of reason, the inner life and movement of one's thinking is determined by the state of one's feeling. Thinking had not yet turned outwards to the world, and had remained narrowly confined. Christianity was experienced intimately within the life of feeling, but the Laws of Moses, which restricted individual freedom were still powerful in their influence.
In the elderly female figure who is fully formed in the upper half of her body the painter shows this soul of the Middle Ages which is filled with powerful feelings. This soul did not stand fully in life. On the contrary, she sought deeper inwardness by renouncing the world. This is indicated by the literally innumerable cloisters of the religious orders which were shut off from public life. Hence the painter has dressed the figure in a nun's garb.
The reasoning man as such embodies the other extreme. He does not really "stand" in life "with both feet", but rather squats; we could call him a stay-at-home, the left foot lacks a boot. His upper and lower parts are well formed. He lives strongly in his will as well as in his thinking. However the whole trunk is missing -- heart, chest and arms -- the possibility to act and to feel is lacking. But he has developed vast scholarship as indicated by the master's cap and his highly intelligent face which yet does not radiate any wisdom. This theological scholarship is a pseudo-wisdom, for he can achieve nothing by it, as he has no hands which could enable him to do deeds; he cannot grasp the golden beaker.
The development of the feeling and reasoning soul of the Middle Ages which is familiar to him stands before the inner eye of Anthony/Bosch. Even in its highest perfection in mysticism and scholasticism it failed to develop the "whole man", the full Christian. By this Anthony has recognised the historical situation of occidental man and himself. The decadent remnants of the older and the most ancient cultures and cults still rise up from the subsoil of his feeling soul (the woman beside him) and these are confronted by learning and inwardness as the Christian path (see Fig. 100 and Plate B). But all this remains in the "outer court" and does not lead to the real task. How should Anthony further direct his way? The staff lies beside him as a sign of further travel, and he wears the Tao sign, the sign of the balance which he would keep despite all that is still brewing in him.
Fig. 100. HIERONYMUS BOSCH: General view of the central panel. The Temptations of St. Anthony.
Anthony is not gazing towards the Christian altar, but with the Christ he is looking out into the world. In the midst of the tumult of humanity flowing hither and yon in all its doubtful ambivalence there stands the Christ as the Door to Death and Resurrection. As Anthony turns his face where the Christ is looking and lifts his hand in blessing, thus uniting himself in gratitude with the achievements of past human cultural epochs, a new succession begins; he enters the world as a follower of Christ. He leaves the golden beaker of learning filled with cold science because with this he cannot relieve any earthly needs. It is very probable that the two figures by the other side of the steps represent not only two aspects of soul, but also two individuals who "played a part" in the life of the painter. The motherly woman may have been a person who in his youth represented all that deepened his feeling, perhaps a nurse or his mother; the scholar may have been his teacher who sharpened his understanding and taught him to think logically. This makes it understandable why the womanly part of Anthony (the woman beside him) holds out her bowl to these two figures. His soul bears within it for always what it has gathered in its youth through its natural growth and the experiences associated with the romantic singing of the cicadas.
In order to give a general survey of the ideas which lie in the part of the central panel that has just been discussed the chief points must be gathered together.
The cupola of the ruin represents the remnant of the Temple of Solomon. What had been a stately fortress of ancient wisdom has decayed to a ruin, and demoniac beasts [?] inhabit it. Yet it is just here that the Risen One appears, who will make all things new; before Him a ray of light gleams, shining in through a hole in the wall. But almost no one recognises Him and on the left in the outer court there are people who are only preoccupied with their physical condition. [?] The only one who recognises Him is the initiate. On the right a pillar is joined to the cupola. It is the pillar of the old covenant which can be recognised by the pictures from the Old Testament on it.
Only the bridge, which leads on to the lime-kiln-death is undamaged and new as though only just built; man's dying forever remains new.
Fig. 101. HIERONYMUS BOSCH; Scholasticism and mysticism, the pillar of the old covenant, the Crucified and the Risen Christ by the altar. (detail, The Temptations of St. Anthony).
Let us now study the pillar of the Old Testament (see Fig. 101). At the top of the pillar Moses is shown, receiving the tablets from the hands of Jehovah. This is a form of representation that was common among many painters contemporary with Bosch. At the same level as Moses we find a calf on a mountain-top. Below this a dance of joy is being celebrated. On the middle part of the pillar an ape-like creature sits as if upon a throne.
A swan, an ox and a lamb are brought to him as offerings; an owl is looking out from a hole. Underneath this we find the famous large bunch of grapes which the messengers brought back from the brook Eshcol, the promised land. At the edge of the last picture, on a narrow border, one can barely discern a huntsman with a horn; he is preceded by a hound and he is following an indeterminate animal. The lowest part of the pillar is bare, or at least nothing more can be seen on it. Let us attempt to recognise a connecting idea underlying this series of partly conventional and partly imaginative pictures.
When the Judaic people were led from Egyptian slavery, Moses had received a new impulse from the divine-spiritual world for the leadership and education of that folk or race which had been chosen to bring forth the physical body of the future bearer of the Christ. The revelation of Horeb/Sinai is the culminating point of a whole series of extraordinary events, which of course were not recognised by the folk themselves without further explanation; therefore trials and temptations also had to appear. We know that Hieronymus Bosch was particularly concerned with the theme of temptation, and it cannot be a matter for surprise that here too the painter took the opportunity to show erroneous human reactions to divine impulses, in this case the reactions upon the receiving of the tablets. The picture of the Golden Calf stands at the same level as Moses; according to the Biblical text it was erected under Aaron's leadership. It represented a relapse into the old mysteries of life. Bock describes it in his Moses and his Time . A few sentences are quoted here: "Two dramatic scenes belong together as polar opposites, of these one is the revelation on Sinai, the other follows the return of the messengers -- the setting up of the Golden Calf-image and the uproar of the mob of Korah.
The rock-like sayings of the Decalogue have hardly been translated from their revelation in thunder, and carried in human words, among them the sentence: 'Thou shalt not make any graven images', when the impatient folk, wanting their old traditions, build under Aaron's leadership a golden image of the holy Egyptian Bull of Apis. While Moses is on the mountain sunk in the vision of the archetypal images of the cosmic-supersensible cult, which he is to translate into the formal world of earthly priesthood, there takes place at the feet of the holy mountain the great relapse into the cult of Egypt. The spirits of the past, with their imposing magical greatness could more easily win power over the souls of the Israelites than the strict forces which would lead to ego-hood through the horrors of the desert and the fire storms from within the earth. A great part of the people fall to the Egyptian temptation. Not even Aaron can resist it. Moses, returning from the holy mountain, throws himself into battle against the suggestive past with merciless severity as if he were an incarnation of the fire of divine wrath; he casts down the image and with the aid of the Levites who are destined to be the bearers of the new priesthood, eradicates the Egyptian cult from the life and soul of the people down to the last traces."
Under the picture of the calf we find dancers pictured on the pillar, and we can assume of these that the subject is the dance about the Golden Calf. However dancing for joy is mentioned several times in the Old Testament. David too danced for joy, that the Ark of the Lord had returned. The description of this event can be found in Samuel II 6/14-16. "David danced before the Lord with all his might and was girded about with a linen ephod"; his wife Michal, the daughter of Saul, was ashamed of this dance. It is possible that Michal was afraid that by David's action the development of and pleasure in the physical body might gain the upper hand among the Jewish people, and that the higher organisation of the human being might become neglected. Bosch also seems to have thought on these lines, for directly in relation to this dance-scene he adds a scene that points to this. However this may be, the gestures of the dancers are strange. Once one has recognised the primitive joy on this picture it is not difficult to rediscover this joy in the dances of many lands. For this reason it is remarkable that, Erasmus Grasser has also perpetuated this gesture in his statuettes of dancers. This sculptor was a contemporary of Bosch, and, like Albrecht Durer and our painter Bosch he worked for a long time for the Emperor Maximilian (see Note 21 and Fig. 146 and Fig. 147).
Let us return to what it was that Michal, the wife of David, feared and that always threatens once high aims have been reached -- namely a relapse into the lowest sensations, a spreading infection of sensuality, which in the Bible is represented by the temptation by the Midiamite women. This relapse of interest from ego activity to physical activity is painted on the next level. The ape-like creature represents mere physical bodily existence, which must decay if the spirit does not, or does not as yet, wake within it. We have already found this symbol in the cage on the back of the demon who steers the duck-ship of education (see section 25) and will rediscover it on the back of the ox which goes over the bridge. Here the ape squats on a throne, and one of the dancers from the scene above sacrifices a swan to him; the horned ox is brought to him by a man who looks like a Turk, who carries the sign of the half-moon in his hand, by which he demonstrates his lack of faith, and a third figure carries a lamb in his arms and offers this kneeling to the enthroned ape-man. The swan is the representation of a purified soul which mirrors itself calmly in the ocean of the spirit; the ox represents the enlightened living thinking that was denied and decried by Arabism and the lamb is the symbol of the sacrificial power of the ego. Before us there stands a Satanic temptation to place the whole higher organisation of man completely in the service of his physical body. The awakening of intelligence belongs to this Ahrimanic attitude of the soul, therefore the owl is looking out through a hole. It can also be understood now why the giant grape is painted below. This hints at the Luciferic temptation which appeared in the people after the return of the twelve messengers led by Korah the Levite.
The crowd of Korah utopians, who believe that they can now understand and control all supernatural events themselves, unleash hurricanes from the innermost earth as the incense rises from their offering bowls; the Bible says that the earth was torn open and even the last trace of their presumption was eradicated through the fiery flames of cosmic wrath, while the sinners sank into hell. The natural catastrophe is the answer of the heavens to the errors of fanatics (see Emil Bock on Moses 4 ch. 16 v. 31) .
The giant grape is reminiscent of the whole event and here forms the nuclear picture of Luciferic temptation. It is likely that the last representation on the lowest border of the pillar gives the answer to both temptations, and that here Phineas the hunter is shown, who, with his white hound (his pure sense of smell,) puts to flight the black animal of the plague (the demoniac), for it was Phineas who checked the torment of sensuality through the might of the spear of the spirit (Moses 4 ch. 125 v. 7-18). The picture is too indistinct to permit of definite conclusions. It must however be remembered that with Bosch what is painted small always represents what is important in a positive sense, as was said previously.
Fig. 102. HIERONYMUS BOSCH: The bridge from here to the beyond (detail, The Temptations of St. Anthony).
Fig. 103.HIERONYMUS BOSCH: The Hay Wain
Triptych -- right inner wing. Madrid, Prado
Let us now study the covered bridge (see Fig. 102 and Plate L). It is reminiscent of the castle of Chenonceaux from the year 1515, one of the castles on the Loire which is both a castle and a bridge and was similarly built in spans across a river. Were Bosch and the engineer in contact? Below the passage for boats is closed, and through the windows a jay can be seen with a ladder, and a longbacked ox on which an ape-like creature is sitting. Between the spans of the bridge there is a large clock. As has already been said the whole is an imaginative representation of the process of dying. No one knows when his hour will strike, therefore it is no ordinary clock that is painted here, but a circle of the Signs of the Zodiac replaces the figures, as the hour is different for each individual. The bird of Satan, the jay, is already familiar as a symbol; on the central panel of the Hortus Deliciarum The Garden of Heavenly Delights, its symbolic value can be recognised most clearly, as that being which attempts to prevent all spiritual striving  [Fig. 106]. Here it can be seen that he has removed the ladder; by this Bosch is saying that every man had the ability throughout his life on earth to "ascend" in the development of his soul; once he has died this possibility has ended for the time being, and the human being in his spiritual entity can only remain at the level of soul life that he had attained. The jay is preceded by the symbol of the physical body, shrivelled, because now almost empty and deserted by the spirit; the ape-like creature that was discussed in the previous section is sitting on a longbacked ox. This representation is also comprehensible now. The cow who waits, has already been met in the Prodigal Son, as the picture of life-forces from which the human being is still nourished for a few days after passing through the gate of death. Here on the bridge between life and death the figure of the ox is no longer as previously the picture of the etheric (life-) body but has such a long back because a man's life-body after death gradually expands into the wide etheric world , .
Fig. 104. THE MASTER OF THE HOLY CROSS. ± 1400. The Annunciation. Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum.
On the right inner wing of The Hay Wain triptych the painter has painted a human being who is in the process of incarnating into a body, who is also riding on an ox. In this case the individual is riding towards a tower which is still being built (ref 65 p. 73). The reproduction is again given here (see Fig. 103). In Fig. 104 the building of the physical body by the angels is taking place. On the Lisbon altar- piece the human individuality is riding out of the tower, which can be regarded here as also representing the physical body, which was built long ago and has now fallen into ruin. Once a man has reached the other side of the bridge of dying, i.e. has lost his body and earthly life, he has become "naked". For he has shed these sheaths. One like the old man, goes down step by step into the water, as if into a bath, another has mounted on the roof and is about to dive from there; but all souls must swim through beneath the bridge; it can be seen that the entry through the spans of the bridge -- the gates to the purgatorium -- is closed to vessels, for the souls cannot bring anything with them; they must go through naked. In his usual consistent fashion Bosch has placed a white holy stork where the souls enter the ocean of the spirit. This bird has been mentioned several times, and represents the strength of the souls to raise themselves into higher regions of the spirit once they are no longer bound to a body. In other situations a different representation, the hart, is used as a picture for this process.
By making the bridge of dying end in a curious structure in three parts, Bosch wants to show various aspects of death. Through this the whole has become an intricate imaginative picture which can only be decoded by adducing the symbols that he has used elsewhere. Let us first turn to the curtain, which is fastened above to the lighthouse, and partially drawn; this indicates that a mystery is about to be unveiled (see Plate L). Above, the structure is an old-fashioned lighthouse, which corresponds to the lighthouse on the right inner wing, where it has already been discussed (section 19). Here, as there, the tower stands as a "memento mori", which must be clearly distinguished from the earthly tumult of men around it. The lower part of the lighthouse resembles the pumpkins which Bosch painted on the central panel of The Garden of Heavenly Delights. Here too the pumpkins are similarly decorated and represent the grave. It must be understood that the pumpkin can be regarded as the case housing the "fruits of life" which will scatter seeds out of it once the shell of the pumpkin has decayed. These fruits of life pass into the world ether like doves rising into the sky; so it can also be seen why there is a dovecot beneath the fire lighting the tower, and the soul-doves fly out from this. A woman is watching them. She can be looked upon as the midwife of these rising soul-doves. This woman can also be found on the right inner wing of The Hay Wain -- see Fig. 103.
The mortal parts of man flow out through a large hole below the lime-kiln pumpkin, and above on the left under the curtain the customs proper to a funeral are again shown. A funeral feast is being held at a round table at which a monk and a nun are sitting. Outside the curtain a cask can be seen on which a white jug is standing. These same symbols were found on the left inner wing where they have already been discussed. The bellows indicate the kindling of hell-fire.
Fig. 105. HIERONYMUS BOSCH; Cosmic Constellation (detail from The Temptations of St. Anthony).
In the air are two spiritual forms, directed towards each other; these dominate all the events of the central panel from the cosmic sphere; on the left is the distorted swan of Venus, on the right the warship of Mars (see Fig. 105). Beauty, purity, goodness and love can arise from the influence of Venus, if men are able to use her powers in a positive sense. Turned into their negative aspect, ugliness and unchastity, selfishness and licentiousness appear. Mars can give enterprise, courage and ability to act, the best attributes needed for attempting an effective following of Christ in the sense of the battling Anthony. But in the constellation that is shown here the forces of Mars will work in a negative way and will cause war and destruction. It should be noted that the swan of Venus here carries the ball at the rear, also the mast is to the rear, i.e. the forces of Venus are working in a distorted way. For a shield Mars has a round dish, which we have found again and again among the emblems as the sign of earth forces that are seeking for power; the warlike impression from this picture is striking. Bosch has already painted such an imagination in his youth (see Fig. 50, section 23, Prodigal Son).
These images in the air, i.e. the atmosphere which is spread over the earth, show the influences under which human life stood at the time. It has been seen that the initiate uses the forces of Mars and Venus in the positive sense; but most men are unable to defend themselves against the bad influences of Mars and Venus as they stand together here.
The cupola-roof gives an outstanding example of the fact that Bosch habitually paints the quintessence of his world conception unobtrusively, and yet quite exactly (see Fig. 100). For example the staircase still exists, and still leads upwards from the ruined pillar of the Old Testament opening on to the cupola. Within this cupola -- roofed space -- the Risen One appears. The indestructible life forces of nature have let several green plants grow upon the fragile stones of the ruin. Beside the steps to the right there is a bush, the symbol of the blossoming and decay of all life forces on the earth; for on the one hand it flourishes on the bare stones, on the other one can see that one branch has already died off; to underline the contrast still further Bosch has painted two shrikes on the dead branch. The beam below shows that this force of growth can also become rampant where below the bush, a prehistoric monster is squatting, while on the other side of this beam, a descendant of this species in the form of a lizard is clinging on tightly. On the other side, representing the spiritual opposite to this picture of the rampant, potentially degenerative forces of nature there is painted a Luciferic devil -- this represents the degeneration of the life of the soul.
Above, on the ruin there are two guiding symbols. They are introduced in such a concealed way that they only speak to those who are familiar with what is shown. It was the intention of the painter that laymen should not understand them and should merely regard them as the play of fantasy. But for those who in the present time would learn the meaning of the language of the works of Bosch it is essential to recognise such details precisely, for in order to be able to read a sentence one must first learn the letters and then try to understand the sense. It is the same with the pictorial language of Bosch. The hart has already become familiar as the symbol of the human soul in the physical body which can find the way into the spiritual world. This hart, the psychopompos within man's own breast, here carries a shrike upon his back which is to say that during its life upon earth the soul has already become familiar with dying.
Diagonally below the hart on the cupola, near the stair, a blue-white chicken is painted, which is going in the opposite direction from the hart. It is the picture of the new-born soulbird of a man in the spiritual world when his individuality is turning again towards an earthly birth. Hence the chicken has a different direction to travel than the hart. The symbol of the chicken, which also occurs with the same meaning on the right inner wing of The Hay Wain triptych once on the tower and once below it, cannot be understood without relating it to the book of The Chymical Marriage of Christian Rosencreutz. Reference has already been made to this book. On pp. 82-6 this bird is mentioned. Bosch must have been familiar with such a typically Rosicrucian imagination already in his time, a hundred years before Valentin Andreae wrote it down. The changing colours and the use of the picture of the chicken correspond exactly with what can be found in the Chymical Wedding. Thus on the cupola here we find the ideas of the growth and dying in nature, the way into existence of the soul and an indication pointing to reincarnation. All these also lie in the well-known saying of the Rosicrucians which follows here:
The meaning of this saying extends so far beyond the limits of this book that a mere indication must suffice. The significance of the painting The Temptations of St. Anthony goes far beyond the level of its mere title. If was our intention to demonstrate this fact.
The pre-Christian word of the Mysteries "Know thyself", the word of St. John the Baptist, announcing the Christ "Change your ways" as also the word of Paul "Christ in me" all run as unifying threads throughout the whole painting. The demand, the annunciation, and the striving for the future which lie in these crystalline words are expressed by the painter in the sense of the Rosicrucians, together with the sharpest criticism of the aberrations of his age, which is still our own.
xii. Translator's note. The author seems to imply that the existence for a time of wisdom in the darkness of Egypt was necessary for ultimate redemption of materialism.
xiii. Translator's note. The Luciferic temptation often prepares the way for Ahriman.
xiv. The Garden of Heavenly Delights.
xv. Translator's note. Hieronymus Bosch.
xvi. Translator's note: in the earlier book ref. No 65.