The Voynich Temple

Greco-Roman Myth in the Voynich Manuscript

About / Contact

Welcome on my Voynich manuscript research blog. First of all, if you are not familiar with this manuscript, you should take a look at the wiki first, since my posts assume that the reader has at least a general idea about the work and its various sections.

My own background is in historical linguistics, especially in Dutch. I do not consider this background particularly useful in the field of Voynich studies, so I am definitely not an expert. Then again, I believe that very few people are when it comes to this very particular artifact.

In the face of the Voynich, we are all amateurs.

If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to leave a reply, or contact me at koengheuens “at” gmail.com .

 

4 thoughts on “About / Contact

  1. “In the face of the Voynich, we are all amateurs”.. hmmn. I don’t think of it as unique to the point where it neutralises all relevant skills, training and experience in provenancing imagery, manuscripts, or analysis of text. But I would think that, wouldn’t I? 😀

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  2. Well, I will tell you just a few of the reasons why the Voynich manuscript strikes me as decidedly outside either Judeo-Christian or classical culture. These cultures are most decidedly rape cultures, and there is absolutely zero graphical allusion to rape in the whole of its pages. The only fellow even halfway hinting at a military is the crossbow holder, and he certainly does not appear to be at war, and battles, wrestling, and men drinking are prominent icons in Greco-Roman iconography. They are absent here, along with so much of what one would expect if some man of letters were to create it. In addition, with very little exception, the women are all exceedingly fair, even blushing and sweating. I believe the easiest thing for any of us to do is to reach for the most accessible cultures that have stamped their emblems on so much of the learned world. However, IF the Voynich were of any of those worlds, it would not be half the mystery it is, because classical scholars would have had hundreds of a-ha! moments with it by now, but study after study using all the usual approaches leave it a mystery. I don’t believe it gets us very far to keep plodding along all the trodden avenues and shoehorning the Voynich’s imagery into what we know was prevalent in classical studies or even what we know about the Renaissance. I think, rather, it’s outside of the classical canon altogether.

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  3. Hi Claudette

    Yes, I agree that one can make an argument about which elements the manuscript would probably contain if it were made by a specific culture. If it were central European, we would see more saints, angels, clergymen, knights… And indeed, probably more violence as well.

    We can make a similar argument based on stylistics. If it were a pure classical or Hellenistic work, it would look very different. And it would look so very different if it were a Northern work.

    I agree that there is little to no sexual violence, but “zero allusion to rape”, that I’m not so sure of. A number of independent researchers, including myself, have interpreted the pair of figures top right on f80r as a form of abduction. At least, the interpretation that the man is physically dominating the woman here does not seem too far-fetched.

    I don’t doubt that the physical manuscript was made in the 15th century, but I think the contents that were copied into it were much older. There are cultural echos of Egyptian as well as Greco-Roman imagery. I also find Diane O’Donovan’s work on the plants convincing. She argued that they contain later, Eastern stylistic influences over what must have been a Hellenistic base layer.

    It would have been this blend of cultural influences, as is to be expected in a (post-)Hellenistic environment of intercontinental trade, that gave us the incredibly complex document we have today.

    I don’t buy into any “the manuscript was written by….” theory, because the stylistics indicate that it cannot have been invented in the 15th century. It rather appears to be the result of old, useful documents begin gathered, copied and adapted in several stages and by different cultures. The work of many hands and many different minds.

    Still, you have a very good point if you say that it is outside of the classical canon. But not all works produced during the Hellenistic period and later centuries would have fallen within the canon. Some parallels for Voynich imagery are found in so-called provincial art. One of my favorite examples is the Roman-Egyptian tomb of Petosiris. The art in the tomb itself has absolutely nothing to do with the Voynich, but it illustrates the point that not all work that was made would have been suitable for an emperor. This tomb was found in the Dakhla Oasis, deep within the Egyptian desert, far away from the Nile and civilization. And it contains figures like these:

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