Bibliotherapy

Antoine Court de Gebelin – Three Engravings About Saturn, Mercury and Hercules

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English translation

of engraving one’s notice

The first engraving at the beginning of the Story of Saturn depicts the invention of agriculture. GHE (translator’s note: Gaia), or the Earth, wife of Uranus, and that we recognize by the towers and the keys, is giving a scythe to her son Saturn, so that he may avenge the bad treatments her husband Uranus, or the sky, made him endure. The people placed behind Saturn, half-naked and carrying for some birds and animals they killed, and the others roots and other fruits, represent the children of the Earth and the sadness and wilderness humans were reduced to before the invention of agriculture. In the clouds, Uranus is descending towards GHE, as she is, in haste, warning Saturn of his imminent arrival. Behind Saturn’s mother, we can discover the instruments of agriculture and the snakes, symbols of the first of the arts.

French Original

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English translation

of engraving two’s notice

Engraving two at the beginning of Mercury’s history, depicts the invention of astronomy and of the calendar. Mercury traces a celestial map; Minerva, goddess of the arts gives some light with her torch. The sky is scattered with stars. On one side, are some obelisks and some pyramids, monuments that were raised for astronomical observations; on the other, a tube, sort of telescope that was not unknown in the antiquity, and mathematical instruments. Besides Mercury is his caduceus, his symbol revealing him as inventor of astronomy and that we can see the model in the equator and the ecliptic of the map he traces.

French Original

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English translation

of vignette three’s notice

Engraving three at the beginning of Hercules’ history, depicts the clearing of the lands; this clearing that was for the allegorical antiquity the victory against the lion of the forest. Hercules in the middle of his possession, his club in hand, the lion’s skin on his shoulders, is having, on one side, the rest of an ancient forest cut down, and on the other side having dikes raised to contain the waters of a river that was flooding his land. In the background, oxen are attached to a plow, to plough the land already cleared; as wild animals are escaping, giving a free hand to Hercules, master of the Earth.

French Original

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