Thursday, September 24, 2015

Green Men

     For today's research exercise, I looked into more about Green Men, featured in one of the "extra" green boxes. I had heard of Green Men briefly while learning about Sheela-na-gigs in Dr. Donovan's legacy class, and thought it was interesting to find them again here.
     From what I found, Green Men are foliate or vegatative head carvings that have been found as architectural decorations dating back to ancient Rome. It is believed that Green Men were some sort of depiction of Dionysus or Bacchus, and were reinterpreted by the peoples of the British Isles once the Romans landed there. The Celtic peoples believed that the head was the sacred repository of the soul (there was even a "cult of the head"), and held sacred trees in high value; adopting a Roman symbol into their own idea of the Green Man as a nature spirit would not have been far of a leap.
     In the High/Late Middle Ages, Green Men became a part of the use of grotesques in churches to frighten parishioners and warn them of the dangers of sin. Many Green Man images from this period are depicted as spewing out or being gorged on vines, and the use of ensnaring vines and vegetation was a popular image to represent promiscuity and the dangers of illicit sex.
     As Green Men transitioned into the early modern era, they became less symbolic and more decorative in nature, showing up as motifs in building design or drawn in books.

1 comment:

Vairë said...

I also found that type of information. It is sad to think that their original meaning is lost to history. That said, I like the modern fantasy interpretation as that of a powerful nature spirit. Old and wise and/or big and strong! Cool stuff.