Figures and Mirrors in Demetrios Triklinios's 'Selenography'


Demetrios Triklinios
lunar astronomy
diagrammatic representation

How to Cite

Manolova, D. (2021). Figures and Mirrors in Demetrios Triklinios’s ’Selenography’. Interfaces: A Journal of Medieval European Literatures, (8), 54–73.
Received 2020-09-10
Accepted 2021-06-17
Published 2021-12-31


This article is about the interplay between diagrammatic representation, the mediation of mirrors, and visual cognition. It centres on Demetrios Triklinios (fl. ca. 1308–25/30) and his treatise on lunar theory. The latter includes, first, a discussion of the lunar phases and of the Moon's position in relation to the Sun, and second, a narrative and a pictorial description of the lunar surface. Demetrios Triklinios's Selenography is little-known (though edited in 1967 by Wasserstein) and not available in translation into a modern scholarly language. Therefore, one of the main goals of the present article is to introduce its context and contents and to lay down the foundations for their detailed study at a later stage. When discussing the Selenography, I refer to a bricolage consisting of the two earliest versions of the work preserved in Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, graecus 482, ff. 92r–95v (third quarter of the fourteenth century) and Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, graecus 2381, ff. 78r–79v (last quarter of the fourteenth century). I survey the available evidence concerning the role of Demetrios Triklinios (the author), John Astrapas (?) (the grapheus or scribe-painter), and Neophytos Prodromenos and Anonymus (the scribes-editors) in the production of the two manuscript copies. Next, I discuss the diagrams included in the Selenography and their functioning in relation to Triklinios's theory concerning the Moon as a mirror reflecting the geography of the Earth, on the one hand, and to the mirror experiment described by Triklinios, on the other. Finally, I demonstrate how, even though the Selenography is a work on lunar astronomy, it can also be read as a discussion focusing on the Mediterranean world and aiming at elevating its centrality and importance on a cosmic scale.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Divna Manolova


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