Unidentified flying object in a copperplate

Nov 2016
299
Munich
#1
Has anyone an idea what the strange hovering object in front of the guy´s head should mean? And what the whole scene should mean? The artist is unknown to me, the copperplate is from Italy.


 
Feb 2017
158
Devon, UK
#6
I think Asherman's on the right track, I suspect it may be intended as an illustration from Boccaccio's 'Decameron', the story of Lydia and Pyrrhus, where a woman convinces her husband that he has bad breath.
 
Nov 2016
299
Munich
#8
I think Asherman's on the right track, I suspect it may be intended as an illustration from Boccaccio's 'Decameron', the story of Lydia and Pyrrhus, where a woman convinces her husband that he has bad breath.
This hint is interesting, however I have some doubts.

Given the guy in the copperplate illustration is Lydia´s husband Nicostratus: why hasn´t he a beard (which is mentioned in Decameron´s text), and why does he show the mano cornuta gesture with his left hand, which signifies defense against evil events or forces (e.g. a demon)? The beard should be shown in an illustration of the Decameron scene because Lydia has to take a lock from the beard of her husband. Furthermore, as far as I see nothing in Decameron´s text indicates that Nicostratus is terrified to a degree that he feels the necessity of showing the mano cornuta. Ok, it may be due to artistic freedom that the illustrator added the gesture, but the lack of the beard which is a necessary element of the story is hard to explain, except by forgetfulness or ignorance on the part of the illustrator.

Which three things are these: first, let her in Nicostratus' presence kill his fine sparrow-hawk: then she must send me a lock of Nicostratus' beard, and lastly one of his best teeth.
(...)
Nicostratus had in his service two lads, who, being of gentle birth, had been placed with him by their kinsfolk, that they might learn manners, one of whom, when Nicostratus sate at meat, carved before him, while the other gave him to drink. Both lads Lydia called to her, and gave them to understand that their breath smelt, and admonished them that, when they waited on Nicostratus, they should hold their heads as far back as possible, saying never a word of the matter to any. The lads believing her, did as she bade them. Whereupon she took occasion to say to Nicostratus: “ Hast thou marked what these lads do when they wait upon thee? ” “Troth, that have I, ” replied Nicostratus; “ indeed I have often had it in mind to ask them why they do so. ” “ Nay, ” rejoined the lady, “ spare thyself the pains; for I can tell thee the reason, which I have for some time kept close, lest it should vex thee; but as I now see that others begin to be ware of it, it need no longer be withheld from thee. 'Tis for that thy breath stinks shrewdly that they thus avert their heads from thee: 'twas not wont to be so, nor know I why it should be so; and 'tis most offensive when thou art in converse with gentlemen; and therefore 'twould be well to find some way of curing it. ” “ I wonder what it could be, ” returned Nicostratus; “ is it perchance that I have a decayed tooth in my jaw? ” “ That may well be, ” quoth Lydia: and taking him to a window, she caused him open his mouth, and after regarding it on this side and that: “ Oh! Nicostratus, ” quoth she, “ how couldst thou have endured it so long? Thou hast a tooth here, which, by what I see, is not only decayed, but actually rotten throughout; and beyond all manner of doubt, if thou let it remain long in thy head, 'twill infect its neighbours; so 'tis my advice that thou out with it before the matter grows worse. ” “ My judgment jumps with thine, ” quoth Nicostratus; “ wherefore send without delay for a chirurgeon to draw it. ” “ God forbid, ” returned the lady, “ that chirurgeon come hither for such a purpose; methinks, the case is such that I can very well dispense with him, and draw the tooth myself. Besides which, these chirurgeons do these things in such a cruel way, that I could never endure to see thee or know thee under the hands of any of them: wherefore my mind is quite made up to do it myself, that, at least, if thou shalt suffer too much, I may give it over at once, as a chirurgeon would not do. ” And so she caused the instruments that are used on such occasions to be brought her, and having dismissed all other attendants save Lusca from the chamber, and locked the door, made Nicostratus lie down on a table, set the pincers in his mouth, and clapped them on one of his teeth, which, while Lusca held him, so that, albeit he roared for pain, he might not move, she wrenched by main force from his jaw, and keeping it close, took from Lusca's hand another and horribly decayed tooth, which she shewed him, suffering and half dead as he was, saying: “ See what thou hadst in thy jaw; mark how far gone it is. ” Believing what she said, and deeming that, now the tooth was out, his breath would no more be offensive, and being somewhat eased of the pain, which had been extreme, and still remained, so that he murmured not little, by divers comforting applications, he quitted the chamber (...)
 
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Nov 2016
299
Munich
#10
It would explain the gesture.
I don´t see there any connection to the ´bad breath´ issue. Moreover I don´t see any connection between that issue and the mano cornuta. Bad breath was in medieval times apparently no indication of the presence or effectiveness of evil forces. But, as I already said, maybe the illustrator took improper artistic freedom.
 
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