The Status of Image: A Challenge for Medieval Aesthetics

Maria Bettetini


Summary: 1. Images and Christianity. 2. Mute images in 384 CE. 3. Tolerance and dissimulation. 4. The accusation of heresy. 5. The accusations and defences in the City of God. 6. Augustine and the Christian image. 7. The balance of Gregory the Great. 8. Images as a pedagogy for the Christians? 9. Plato and the Pseudo-Dionysius. 10. Platonism and difference. 11. Beauty and the Principle. 12. Matter saved and “divine” painters.

Abstract: The art and the concept of Beauty in the Middle Ages are connected with the resolution of the issue on the status of the image. Since the early centuries, the fear for idolatry has led to distrust images, up to moments of iconoclasm. Gradually, however, thanks to the Council of Nicea II, thanks to neo-Platonic philosophy in its new expressions, the artist has had more and more guarantees of freedom, he has been considered a creator of beauty, a prosecutor of God's creation.

Keywords: Image, Iconoclasm, Icons, Incarnation, Beauty (of God, of the creation), Art in Middle Age.