[Milton-L] Serpents and their coloring

JCarl Bellinger dionhalic at gmail.com
Thu Nov 6 15:03:41 EST 2014

Jeffery: Red and gold treated as the same color
--Perhaps not related to your lost *Gawain reference* but gold refracts
as red when for instance mixed into the melt of otherwise clear glass.
So the intense red glass in medieval stained-glass windows.

On Saturday, November 1, 2014, Horace Jeffery Hodges <
horacejeffery at gmail.com> wrote:

> Thanks, Nancy, that fiery color of red and gold recalls the point - which
> I recall running across in *Sir Gawain and the Green Knight* - that red
> and gold were treated as the same color . . . though I can't quite place
> the reference . . .
> Jeffery
> On Sat, Nov 1, 2014 at 4:32 PM, Nancy Rosenfeld <rosenfeld.n at gmail.com
> <javascript:_e(%7B%7D,'cvml','rosenfeld.n at gmail.com');>> wrote:
>> Dear Jeffery,
>> Thanks for raising the question of traditions as to serpents' coloring
>> (and for posting the link to the tapestry).
>> Actually we can start with the Hebrew Bible itself, focusing on Numbers
>> 21:6-9, which tells how the Deity sent "fiery serpents" (KJV) to bite
>> people as punishment for speaking "against the Lord." In response to Moses'
>> prayer, God instructs him to "make a fiery serpent, and set it upon a
>> pole." Moses "made a serpent of brass" and held it aloft; everyone who had
>> been bitten and looked on the brass serpent was able to live.
>> [In Hebrew the above is a play-on-words, since nahash (serpent) and
>> nehoshet (brass in KJV; copper in the Jewish Publication Society
>> translation) come from the same 3-letter root. There's also a problem
>> understanding saraf - the word translated as fiery. I looked at 2
>> commentaries on these verses - Rashi and Ramban - but couldn't get much out
>> of them - my fault; I'm not a biblical scholar.]
>> But whichever metal the serpent was made of - brass or copper: both brass
>> and copper, especially when held aloft with the strong desert sun shining
>> on them, would probably have a fiery color which is a combination of red
>> and gold (and fire itself is often pictured by combining red and
>> yellow-gold).
>> Hope this helps,
>> Nancy
>> Dr. Nancy Rosenfeld
>> Max Stern College of Jezreel Valley, 19300, Israel
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