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Splendor Solis 10 severing head of king

Pre-20th century art was filled with allegorical and emblematic images bizarre to modern eyes. “Allegorical” images were usually conventionalized depictions that would be easily recognizable to anyone who had a classical education. They were considered among the “higher” forms of art in the hierarchy of subjects, on par with Historical painting. Of course, many times Allegorical images (particularly subjects such as the “Three Graces”) were simply an excuse to portray beautiful nude women. The type of images referred to as “Emblems”, on the other hand, could be quite startling, and utterly baffling to anyone who lacked the keys to their decipherment. Such an Emblematic image might represent anything from a moral lesson to a coded occult instruction. Reconnaissance art was particularly obsessed with such emblems, the most recognizable example of which to modern people are the twenty-two Trump cards of the Tarot. The twenty-two illustrations of the “Splendor Solis”, a sixteenth century alchemical treatise, are another well-known set of Emblems.

Both Allegorical and Emblematic paintings are great ways for the Presenter (or GM) to hide clues to some great mystery. Allegorical paintings are also a good narrative device for declaring the mood (or to foreshadow the intended moral) of a scenario. The lodges or chapter-houses of secret societies are particularly likely to be filled with Emblematic paintings, and successfully decoding them may reveal the secrets of such groups. Likewise, the only recorded form of a powerful Magical Ritual might be a series of Emblems whose interpretation has eluded the uninitiated for centuries.

Allegorical Images

d100

This painting depicts an allegorical image of…

1 – 5

Death and the Maiden, depicted as a skeletal figure embracing a young woman.

6

Calliope, the Muse of Eloquent Speaking, holding a writing tablet.

7

Clio, the Muse of History, holding a scroll.

8

Euterpe, the Muse of Music, holding a flute.

9

Thalia, the Muse of Comedy, holding the comedic mask.

10

Melpomene, the Muse of Tragedy, holding the tragic mask,

11

Terpsichore, the Muse of Dancing, holding a lyre

12

Erato, the Muse of Love Poetry, wreathed with myrtle, and holding a lyre.

13

Polyhymnia, the Muse of Sacred Poetry, with her elbow resting on a pillar.

14

Urania, the Muse of Astronomy, holding a globe and stylus.

15 – 16

The Nine Muses together.

17 – 22

The Three Graces, depicted as nude women embracing each other.

23 – 24

The Dance of Death, depicting a skeletal figure dancing with people from various stations in society.

25 – 26

The Triumph of Death, depicting a mounted skeleton with a scythe cutting down armies of the living.

27 – 28

The Golden Age of Man, depicting naked people cavorting in an idyllic landscape.

29 – 30

The Ages of Man, showing a man at 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, 40 years, 50 years, 60 years, 70 years, 80 years, and 90 years of age.

31

Spring, represented as a young woman crowned with flowers.

32

Summer, represented as a woman holding wheat.

33

Autumn, represented as a mature woman holding grapes.

34

Winter, represented as an aged women (or man) in furs.

35 – 38

The Four Seasons together.

39

the Element of Air, represented by a mass of birds and sylphs.

40

the Element of Water, represented by marine life sporting alongside mermaids and nereids.

41

the Element of Fire, represented by a volcanic landscape with dragons.

42

the Element of Earth, represented by gardens, forests, and farmers laboring in their fields.

43

the Four Winds, represented as four men with puffed out cheeks, atop clouds.

44

the River Nile, depicted as man reclining on a sculpture of the sphinx.

45 – 46

the Rhine River, depicted as a man with two horns and a crown of grape leaves.

47 – 48

the Danube River, depicted as a man with weeds growing from his hair.

49 – 50

the Liberal Arts, depicted as seven women. The first holds a book and key, the second a scroll and caduceus, the third a small dragon, the fourth a compass, the fifth a ledger and coins, the sixth a harp, and the seventh an armillary sphere.

51 – 53

the Wheel of Fortune, with figures ascending, riding atop, and descending.

54

the Virtue of Justice, depicted as a woman holding scales and a sword.

55

the Virtue of Fortitude, depicted as a young woman holding open the jaws of a lion.

56

the Virtue of Temperance, depicted as a women pouring water from one jug into another.

57

the Virtue of Prudence, depicted as a woman with a mirror, menaced by a serpentine dragon.

58 – 62

The Four Cardinal Virtues (Justice, Fortitude, Temperance, and Prudence) together.

63

the Virtue of Faith, depicted as a woman with a cup, and a book.

64

the Virtue of Hope, depicted as a woman with upcast eyes, and an anchor, at her feet.

65

the Virtue of Charity, depicted as a bare-breasted woman nursing many children.

66 – 70

The Three Theological Virtues (Faith, Hope, and Charity) together.

71

the Continent of Europe, depicted as a crowned woman in a Classical breastplate.

72

the Continent of Asia, depicted as a woman wearing a turban.

73

the Continent of Africa, depicted as a dark-skinned woman wearing a head-wrap with ostrich feathers.

74

the Continent of America, depicted as a woman with a headdress comprised completely of feathers.

75 – 78

the Four Continents (Europe, Asia, Africa, and America)

79

the Deadly Sin of Sloth, depicted as a sloppily-dressed woman asleep.

80

the Deadly Sin of Gluttony, depicted as a woman with a wolf’s head eating a vast amount of food.

81

the Deadly Sin of Wrath, depicted as an angry woman with a bloody sword.

82

the Deadly Sin of Pride, depicted a woman in finery looking into a mirror.

83

the Deadly Sin of Lust, depicted as a naked woman lasciviously holding her breasts and genitals.

84

the Deadly Sin of Greed, depicted as a woman clutching various treasures.

85

the Deadly Sin of Envy, depicted as an old woman with a snake protruding from her mouth, and a dog by her side.

86 – 88

The Seven Deadly Sins in a group.

89 – 90

Vanity, represented by a beautiful woman staring into a hand mirror.

91 – 92

Sacred and Profane Love, depicted as clothed and nude women.

93 – 94

War and Peace, depicted armored Mars embraced by nude Venus.

95 – 96

Peace, depicted as a woman dressed in diaphanous white vestment, and holding an olive branch,

97 – 100

Father Time, depicted with his scythe and hourglass.

d20

Notably,

1

there are several putti also depicted.

2

a main figure has the face of a family member (or ancestor).

3

a main figure has the face of a royal ancestor (or family member).

4

a famous artists’ model obviously posed for the picture.

5

the picture appears to be a work of genius from an unknown master.

6

everything is so realistically rendered it seems completely three-dimensional.

7

the colors are quite garish.

8

the colors are so subdued the painting seems almost monochrome.

9

the perspective seems off.

10

the picture is painted in a flat, medieval style that ignores perspective.

11

the Grand House itself appears in the background.

12

the background depicts an easily recognizable cityscape (Rome, Venice, Paris, Naples, London, etc.)

13

the background is a field of gold leaf.

14

the background is a field of silver leaf.

15

the surface of the painting is badly cracked.

16

sections appear to have been altered and re-painted.

17

the figures are rendered in a way that seems more calculate to titillate than instruct.

18

the shadows seem to be all wrong (or there are no shadows).

19

the composition seems to change slightly with each viewing.

20

it seems impossible to ascertain what medium was used.

 

Enigmatic Emblems

d100

The main subject of this strange painting is…

1 – 5

a young man…

6 – 10

an old man…

11 – 15

a young woman…

16 – 20

an old woman…

21 – 25

a pregnant woman…

26 – 30

a nursing woman…

31 – 35

a male child…

36 – 40

a female child…

41 – 45

an androgyne…

46 – 57

a demonic figure…

58 – 59

a skeletal figure…

60 – 61

a satyr…

62 – 63

a centaur…

64 – 65

a dog…

66 – 67

a cat…

68 – 69

a lion…

70 – 71

a serpent…

72 – 73

a dragon…

74 – 75

an eagle…

76 – 77

a raven…

78 – 79

a mermaid…

80 – 81

a stag…

82 – 83

a ram…

84 – 85

a bull…

86 – 87

a peacock…

88 – 98

a crab…

90 – 91

a fish…

92 – 93

a scorpion…

94 – 95

a swan…

96 – 97

a rooster…

98 – 99

a griffin…

100

a hippogriff…

d100

with…

1 – 4

two heads,

5 – 8

four arms,

9 – 12

one eye,

13 – 16

2d4 eyes,

17 – 20

a strange coloration,

21 – 24

the sun, moon, or a star, instead of a head.

25 – 28

bird wings, (if the figure is a bird, it has the wings of a different bird)

29 – 32

bat wings,

33 – 36

a burning tail,

37 – 40

sigils (or letters) on their (or its) body,

41 – 44

a crown,

45 – 48

a sword (held, or nearby),

49 – 52

a burst of glory emanating from their (or its) body,

53 – 56

a lamp burning atop their (or its) head,

57 – 60

antlers,

61 – 64

a halo of stars,

65 – 68

a chain wrapped around their (or its) body,

69 – 72

various bladed weapons stuck into their (or its) body,

73 – 76

a lance (held, or nearby),

77 – 80

a whip (held, or nearby),

81 – 84

a rose (held, or nearby),

85 – 88

a shovel (held, or nearby),

89 – 95

a horn (blowing, held, or nearby),

93 – 96

an enormous gem in their head,

97 – 100

a human face on its body,

d100

who is…

1 – 4

seated on a throne.

5 – 8

standing in a pool.

9 – 12

being crucified.

13 – 16

being struck with weapons.

17 – 20

spitting a stream of water (or blood) from their (or its) mouth.

21 – 24

breathing fire.

25 – 28

emerging from a grave.

29 – 32

emerging from a pool.

33 – 36

being dressed in a royal mantle.

37 – 40

being disrobed of a royal mantle.

41 – 44

being worshiped by a nude man and woman.

45 – 48

floating in the air.

49 – 52

dancing.

53 – 56

posed between two pillars.

57 – 60

inside a bubble.

61 – 64

hung from a tree.

65 – 68

holding (or standing near) a flowerpot.

69 – 72

menaced by dogs.

73 – 76

being cut into pieces by a man with a sword.

77 – 80

being bathed in a cauldron.

81 – 82

being put through a winepress.

83 – 87

being picked at by birds.

88 – 92

swallowing a snake.

93 – 95

blowing a horn.

96 – 98

contained within a giant glass flask.

99 – 100

chained to the Devil.

d100

In the background is…

1 – 5

the sun and moon.

6 – 10

a smiling sun.

11 – 15

a frowning moon.

16 – 20

a field of 1d20 stars.

21 – 25

1d6 cherubs or putti.

26 – 30

a castle.

31 – 35

a battle.

36 – 40

a river.

41 – 42

a placid ocean.

43 – 44

a forest.

45 – 46

a group of women washing clothes.

47 – 48

a group of peasants working their fields.

49 – 50

an unidentifiable plant.

51 – 52

a chimeric animal.

53 – 54

a hill being excavated.

55 – 56

a group of archers.

57 – 58

a stag hunt.

59 – 60

a vineyard.

61 – 62

the interior of a dungeon.

63 – 64

a barren field full of skulls.

65 – 66

an unfinished pyramid.

67 – 68

a hand projecting from a cloud.

69 – 70

an alchemical furnace.

71 – 72

two towers.

73 – 74

two obelisks.

75 – 76

two classical pillars.

77 – 78

a cliff.

79 – 80

the damned being tortured in hell.

81 – 82

an erupting volcano.

83 – 84

a rain of fire.

85 – 86

a pleasant landscape of rolling hills.

87 – 88

a rocky shore.

89 – 90

a windmill.

91 – 92

two armies about to clash.

93 – 94

a battlefield filled with corpses.

95 – 96

a Chinese landscape with pagodas.

97 – 98

a castle under construction.

99 – 100

the Crucifixion.
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