Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Dog Days of Summer - Hunting Dogs from Illuminated Manuscripts


Hunting Dogs from Illuminated Manuscripts


Gaston Phoebus (French, 1331-1391) Le Livre de la Chasse c 1387

Book of the Hunt was written by Gaston Pheobus, the Count of Foix & Viscount of Bearn. He was born in 1331, wrote this book sometime between May 1387, & his death in 1391. The dogs illustrated in this manuscript were trained as warriors for blood lust. The book addresses different types of game; the care & training of hounds; methods of hunting wild animals; & traps & snares.


Gaston Phoebus (French, 1331-1391) Le Livre de la Chasse c 1387

The hunt in early literature is not merely a game for the merry idle or a search for food. The chase is a quest for love, honor, identity, & even death. The huntsman has been portrayed as a master of wisdom & art & assurance. The hunt itself precipitates adventure, heralds troubles & passions, & an ultimate conquest at the end.


Gaston Phoebus (French, 1331-1391) Le Livre de la Chasse c 1387



Gaston Phoebus (French, 1331-1391) Le Livre de la Chasse c 1387



Gaston Phoebus (French, 1331-1391) Le Livre de la Chasse c 1387



Gaston Phoebus (French, 1331-1391) Le Livre de la Chasse c 1387



Gaston Phoebus (French, 1331-1391) Le Livre de la Chasse c 1387



Gaston Phoebus (French, 1331-1391) Le Livre de la Chasse c 1387


Dog Days of Summer is the name for the most sultry period of summer, from about July 3 to Aug. 11. Named in early times by observers in countries bordering the Mediterranean, the period was determined to extend from 20 days before to 20 days after the conjunction of Sirius (the dog star) & the sun.  The Greek poets Hesiod (ca. 750-650 BCE) & Aratus (ca. 310–240 BCE) refer, in their writings, to "the heat of late summer that the Greeks believed was actually brought on by the appearance of Sirius," a star in the constellation, that the later Romans, & we today refer to as Canis Major, literally the "greater dog" constellation. Homer, in the Iliad, references the association of "Orion's dog" (Sirius) with oncoming heat, fevers, & evil, in describing the approach of Achilles toward Troy:
Sirius rises late in the dark, liquid sky
On summer nights, star of stars,
Orion's Dog they call it, brightest
Of all, but an evil portent, bringing heat
And fevers to suffering humanity.

The term "dog days" was used by the Greeks in Aristotle's Physics.  Astronomer Geminus, around 70 B.C., wrote: "It is generally believed that Sirius produces the heat of the 'dog days,' but this is an error, for the star merely marks a season of the year when the sun"s heat is the greatest." The lectionary of 1559 edition of the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer indicates: "Naonae. Dog days begin" with the readings for July 7 & end August 18. But the readings for September 5 indicate: "Naonae. Dog days end."  This corresponds very closely to the lectionary of the 1611 edition of the King James Bible which indicates the Dog Days beginning on July 6 & ending on September 5.




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