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The Barozzi Oracula Leonis: The Reinterpretation of Byzantine Prophecy ina Venetian Renaissance Context BY KATIA FERNANDEZ MAYO. In the midst of the reign of Pope Gregory XIII (1572-1585), prevalent ideas on spirituality, prophecy, and mystery remained popular amongst Renaissance societies. While the climax of urban and popular prophecies had occurred in the later part of the fourteenth century, the sixteenth century also saw a few expensive commissions that in turn attempted to promote a political message embedded in old popular divinations. Correspondingly, some earlier prophecies, such as the ninth- century Oracles of Leo the Wise were collected and, in the case of the scholar Francesco Baroz2i’s copy, recreated in a Venetian context. The wide distribution of prophetic texts, aided with the invention of print, thus resulted in a rising interest to create elaborate illuminated manuscripts that re-contextu: ised Byzantine content into a Renaissance setting. The reinterpretation of these well- known prophecies further promoted the culmination of Ottoman rule in previously Occidental ambits, such as mercantilism, and corroborated the regained power of Christianity. This paper explores Renaissance interest in the occult and prophecy through an examination of Barozai’s manuscript—the Oracula Leoni additionally, it analyses the role played by the Republic of Venice in the dissemination of prophetic politics. Such interest in the occult will be examined not only. through Christian views, but also through the lens of political propaganda against the Turkish threat, which remained prevalent following the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. ‘The Barozzian manuscript of the Oracula Leonis was commissioned in 1577 by the then Consul of Crete, Iacopo Foscarini, Francesco Barozzi, awell regarded Cretan-Venetian ‘mathematician and astronomer, undertook the project and adapted earlier Byzantine versions of the oracles. The final illuminated manuscript included text in Greek and Latin, along aseries of detailed illustrations produced by the Cretan painter Georgios Klontzas. In the vivid and energetic colours that resembled the effect of vibrant tints and shades of oil on canvas, these complex images ‘emphasize colorito, a stylistic trait associated with the art of Venice. Yet, itis interesting to note that Klontzas was an illuminator trained in icon production, which stylistically informed his work ‘on parchment. Through his training, the illuminator created a unique work of art that existed as a hybrid of both icon artwork and narrative imagery. Klontzas occupied a position between his Cretan roots closer to the East, and his links with the Occidental values of Venice, thus acting as “a fragile point between the Byzantine world and the oecident.”” Afterall, Crete was a critical commercial point in the Mediterranean and the most valued Venetian colony at the time—a port that linked Venice with Asian mercantile networks and sustained the inereasingly fragile relations with Turkish, merchants. Therefore, Barozzi and Klonteas’ work must be considered as a composite product of a Cretan-Venetian nature, and nota purely Italian artwork Klonteas’ extraordinarily detailed artwork reveals a Venetian style deeply influenced by post- Byzantine Cretan features. The illustrations are strikingly urique; as the ornamental full page illustrations present an almost unprecedented focus on images (in contrast with the texts they accompany). By comparing his style with other artists that shared his geographie journey, similar stylistic traits may be identified; the work of El Greco and Manuel Malaxos present akin artistic approaches. For instance, if one compares Figura 13. Ad Regem Canonem, with El Greco's St Luke Evangelist, one may identify the very similar serene and melancholic stare, along with theuse of chiaroscuro, stressing the light both surrounding and emanating from the figures. Itis no coincidence that both artists present a similar style, since they were both trained in the Cretan School of Art as icon painters, where a very strong Venetianinfluence and post-Byzantine stylistic "Vereecken, Les Oracles de Léon le Sage, 263, traits were prevalent. Like El Greco, Klontaas altered his original style in order to correspond with the regional stylistic features of the area where he developed his work. Klontzas presents radically different stylistic features in images such as the Figura 15. Certamen, which resemble artwork made by Venetian artists who remained untrained within traditional Greek styles. This particular illustration presents a frenzied battle scene between the Christians, dressed as knights, and the ‘Turks, wearing white turbans, The focus ofthe image is fixed on the central scene, which depicts a mass of chaotic, overlapping figures, and a serpentine cavalry line preceding a city landscape. In this manner, the spatial composition of the procession resembles Bellin’s painting Procession of the ‘True Cross in Piazza San Marco. Bellini and Klontzas’ paintings both frame a central canopy with a long uniform procession, while a Byzantine cityscape provides the background for the scene. The depicted city in Klontzas illustration, Gabaon, is anachronistcally presented with tall pointed towers, Greck crosses, arches, domes, rectangular buildings with arched windows, and a basilica, which contrasts with the actual geographical and historical location of the city itself. Gabaon was a Biblical city in Isracl but in Klontzas’ painting, the city is depicted as an imagined modern and rich city, contemporary of Barozzi and Klontzas' time? This depiction has an almost caricaturesque and ‘undulating quality—an imaginary city—in contrast with Bellin’s accurate portrayal of the extant St. Mark's Basilica. Thus, both painter and commissioner utilised the original history ofthe city and adapted it to correspond with a city with which a sixteenth-century audience could identify. ‘The illustrations in the manuscript may be thus understood within the re-contextualisation of ‘old Byzantine prophecies in the Renaissance. As historian Ottavia Niccoli angues in her book ance Italy, ea Prophecy and People in Ret ier texts were “reinterpreted and re-appropriated 2 Vereecken, Les Oracles de Léon le Sage, 42.