|The Codex Gigas|
Seldom displayed publicly, as the book is kept in an environmentally controlled room to preserve the aged book for posterity.
To some, the `Codex Gigas` is known as the `Devil`s Bible`, on account of an embellished image of the Devil (Folio 290 recto - page 577 ) which fills an entire page. Less commonly known however, is an opposite image of heaven which juxtaposes the "good versus evil," in contrast with the picture of the devil.
The codex is believed to have been written and illustrated in the Benedictine monastery of Podlažice near Chrudim in Czech Republic. The monastery was destroyed during the 15th century. Records in the codex end in the year 1229. The codex was later pledged to the Cistercians Sedlec monastery and then bought by the Benedictine monastery in Břevnov. From 1477–1593 it was kept in the library of a monastery in Broumov until it was taken to Prague in 1594 to form a part of the collections of Rudolf II.
|The devil entrapped|
On Friday 7th May 1697, a fierce fire broke out at the royal castle in Stockholm, and the Royal Library suffered very badly. The codex was rescued from the flames by throwing it out of a window. The codex apparently injured a bystander and some of its leaves fluttered away and they are still missing today. In September, 2007, after 359 years, Codex Gigas returned to Prague on loan from Sweden until January 2008, and was on display at the Czech National Library.
Contrary to a number of theories that the book was written as a form of religious text in praise of evil, the book actually contains a number of Judaic/Christian religious texts, and the image of the Devil is actually depicted trapped within a boxed area. The Devil appears enraged, and far from celebrating evil, the book balances the eternal struggle of man on earth between the forces of good and evil.
Written in a time of great instability and great social suffering, the book reflects that period view and was believed to have taken over 20 years to complete. Without any imagery, the text is believed to have taken 5 years alone of writing around the clock, and the entire work is believed to be the work of one man - `Herman the Recluse`, who must have spent his entire life shuttered off from the troubled and persecuted world outside.
|The sheer size of this medieval work compared to the figure behind|
The `Codex Gigas` has been described by some academics as the product of a `confused and rambling mind`, but today the book is appreciated for it`s historical and artistic appeal.
View the Codex Gigas here: