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Paris Psalter, 10th century

David and Goliath

A detail of David fighting Goliath, Paris Psalter, Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS. gr. 139

The Soldiers on the left, Paris Psalter Goliath's helmet, Paris Psalter The Soldiers on the right, Paris Psalter
Paris psalter (BnF MS Grec 139), folio 4v

The Paris Psalter (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, MS. gr. 139), designated by siglum 1133 (Rahlfs), is a Byzantine illuminated manuscript containing 449 folios and 14 full-page miniatures "in a grand, almost classical style", as the Encyclopædia Britannica put it. Together with Basil I's Homilies of St Gregory Nazianzus, the Paris Psalter is considered a key monument of the so-called Macedonian Renaissance in Byzantine art during the 10th century.

This and other miniatures are so Hellenistic in execution and so unlike the received notion of what medieval art in general and Byzantine art in particular should look like, that most 19th-century authorities dated the manuscript to the time of Justinian. The Byzantists Hugo Buchthal and Kurt Weitzmann, however, conclusively demonstrated that the book was created in the 10th century.

Image Source: Bibliothèque nationale de France, MS. gr. 139

Referenced on p33 MAA-89 Byzantine Armies 886-1118 by Ian Heath & Angus McBride:
Details worthy of notice in this 10th-century David and Goliath illumination from the Paris Psalter are, in the upper scene, Goliath's crested helmet with aventail of leather strips and his javelin with butt-spike, and in the lower scene David's one-edged paramerion. Note also the spiked helmets at left and right. The shields are fairly certainly convex here, and armour appears to be leather. (Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris)

See the same composition and costume in Bristol Psalter, f. 231v: David and Goliath, each accompanied by a personification: David by Might and Goliath by Pride, Byzantine, 11th century, British Library, Add. MS 40731
and Bristol Psalter, f. 240r: David beheading Goliath, Byzantine, 11th century, British Library, Add. MS 40731
Female personifications of Virtues and Vices may have been influenced by Prudentius' Psychomachia
See also Illustrations referenced by Byzantine Armies 886-1118 by Ian Heath & Angus McBride
Other Illustrations of Byzantine Costume & Soldiers
10th century Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers

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