[Milton-L] Serpents and their coloring

Horace Jeffery Hodges horacejeffery at gmail.com
Thu Nov 6 22:06:00 EST 2014


Thanks, Carl. I didn't know that.

Jeffery

On Fri, Nov 7, 2014 at 5:03 AM, JCarl Bellinger <dionhalic at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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.
> -Carl
>
> 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>
>> 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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>>
>>
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