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Thinking with Crocodiles: An Iconic Animal at the Intersection of Early-Modern Religion and Natural Philosophy


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This paper seeks to explore how culturally and religiously significant animals could shape discourses in which they were deployed, taking the crocodile as its case study. Beginning with the textual and visual traditions linking the crocodile with Africa and the Middle East, I read sixteenth- and seventeenth-century travel narratives categorizing American reptiles as “crocodiles” rather than “alligators,” as attempts to mitigate the disruptive strangeness of the Americas. The second section draws on Ann Blair’s study of “Mosaic Philosophy” to examine scholarly debates over the taxonomic identity of the biblical Leviathan. I argue that the language and analytical tools of natural philosophy progressively permeated religious discourse. Finally, a survey of more than 25 extant examples of the premodern practice of displaying crocodiles in churches, as well as other crocodilian elements in Christian iconography, provides an explanation for the ubiquity of crocodiles in Wunderkammern, as natural philosophy appropriated ecclesial visual vocabularies.


Abstract

This paper seeks to explore how culturally and religiously significant animals could shape discourses in which they were deployed, taking the crocodile as its case study. Beginning with the textual and visual traditions linking the crocodile with Africa and the Middle East, I read sixteenth- and seventeenth-century travel narratives categorizing American reptiles as “crocodiles” rather than “alligators,” as attempts to mitigate the disruptive strangeness of the Americas. The second section draws on Ann Blair’s study of “Mosaic Philosophy” to examine scholarly debates over the taxonomic identity of the biblical Leviathan. I argue that the language and analytical tools of natural philosophy progressively permeated religious discourse. Finally, a survey of more than 25 extant examples of the premodern practice of displaying crocodiles in churches, as well as other crocodilian elements in Christian iconography, provides an explanation for the ubiquity of crocodiles in Wunderkammern, as natural philosophy appropriated ecclesial visual vocabularies.


Introduction


Since the publication of Le totemisme aujourd’hui in 1962, Claude Lévi-Strauss’s dictum that certain animal species are “bonnes à penser” has passed into scholarly immortality, not least in the study of the early-modern period.1 And yet, many a thoughtful investigation conceives of early-modern representations of animals as passive bearers of meaning, rather than as sites of its production. In Lévi-Strauss’ terms, the emphasis has been on the thinkers. The words of William B. Ashworth, Jr. offer an instructive example:


If we wish to study Gesner, or Aldrovandi, or Camerarius, and understand their works in the spirit in which they were written, then we must be prepared to think adagially, allegorically, and analogically. We must see an animal as a symbol, a character, in some greater language of nature.2

Valuable as Ashworth’s insights are, it must be acknowledged that what one thinks with shapes what one thinks. To deploy an animal as a discursive tool offered different possibilities and limitations from deploying a plant or an artifact; to deploy one animal was not the same as deploying another. The animal was not merely a symbol – a channel through which to transmit or a receptacle in which to store; the specific contours of the cultural profile of a given creature inflected any attempt to think through it. As Charlotte Sleigh has written of Jan Swammerdam’s experiments on frogs: “Frogs also provided Swammerdam with the specific means to engage in particular philosophy [sic] of his day, to intervene in debates about generation and to create his hopeful proof that ‘all God’s works are governed by the same rules.’”3 Drawing on the same model of “thinking with” to examine early-modern sainthood, Simon Ditchfield has demonstrated how saints functioned “as tropes or discursive tools” in diverse disciplines and substantively shaped the discourses they facilitated.4

This article aims to perform a similar maneuver on early-modern animals, identifying how representations of religiously and culturally meaningful beasts possess a certain amount of semiotic agency, with which to influence the ­production and consumption of early-modern knowledge.


To be sure, one does not think with animals, writ large; one thinks with ­specific animals. I will, therefore, follow a single case study – the crocodile – seeking to unpick the particular nexus of cultural, religious, and natural types of knowledge that have been channeled through it.


Part I considers the shock to established worldviews occasioned by Europe’s encounter with the Americas, and how Old World categories (the crocodile) were used to integrate New World experiences (the alligator) into familiar frameworks. Part II examines the scholarly debate over the identity of the biblical Leviathan. I argue for expanding Ann Blair’s observations on “Mosaic philosophy,” to encompass a wider range of texts and authors, which, while they maintained the supreme authority of Scripture, employed the full apparatus of natural history in its service.5 Finally, part III marshals these cultural and religious associations to offer an explanation for collectors’ displays of stuffed crocodiles in Wunderkammern.


I American Crocodiles


Established cultural systems sustained a profound shock from Europe’s encounter with the Americas. The existence of entire continents, filled with peoples and creatures known neither to the Gospel nor to the writers of antiquity, delivered a body blow to Europe’s mental construct of the world.6 It was all the more disturbing, because Columbus and his contemporaries had been quite sure about what they would find as they sailed westwards – namely, the ­Indies.7 Learned reaction took various forms: some concluded that the “New World” represented precisely that: a new world, belying the unitary cosmos of older thinkers. Numerous others (Wilma George suggests they constituted the majority), however, sought to integrate the Americas into older frameworks: to bridge, or even to deny, the yawning gulf that had opened up in their worldview.8 The Spanish historian Francisco López de Gómara insisted that, newness notwithstanding, “the inhabitants of this new world were descendants from Adam and Noah, and that ‘the world is one, and not many, like some [ancient gentile] philosophers thought.’”9 Such thinkers, theologians and natural philosophers alike, reasserted the integrity of their cosmography by reconceiving the New World as nothing more than an extension of the Old.


To some extent, this reaction is hardly surprising. As Susan Scott Parrish comments, “as explorers and colonists encountered the New World, their observations were colored by iconographic traditions they brought with them from Europe.”10 These traditions dealt with unfamiliar animal specimens, for example, in various ways. They could be “pushed into the traditional classifications […], the alphabetical treatment of Gesner, or the hoof and claw arrangement of Aldrovandi.”11 More drastically, they could be simply identified as mere variants of Old World animals, which served as “models of morphological normalcy.”12 Thus, Walter Raleigh insisted:


whereas by discovering of strange lands wherein there are found divers beasts and birds differing in colour or stature from those of these northern parts, it may be supposed by a superficial consideration, that all those which wear red and pyed skin or feathers are differing from those that are less painted and wear plain russet or black: they are much mistake that so think. And for my own opinion, I find no difference but only in magnitude, between the cat of Europe, and the ounce of India.13

What is noteworthy, however, is the long-term persistence of these strate-gies – of identifying New World alligators with Old World crocodiles, for instance – indicating both the extent of the dislocation and the depth of the need for “morphological normalcy.”14

Large quadrupeds were among the most iconic, and most disturbing, features of the New World: in the words of Hugh Honour, “while parrots and toucans represented the brilliance and beauty of nature in the New World, the four-footed animals revealed its strangeness.”15 This strangeness could be neutralized, if American quadrupeds could be ‘domesticated’ into familiar cultural frameworks. The crocodile/alligator proved admirably suited to the work of cosmographical integration, thanks to a venerable geographic and cultural association with the Old World.


Natalie Lawrence has observed the early-modern prominence of “geographical symbolism in which animals, plants and peoples were identified with certain geographical regions.”16 Indeed, in the case of the crocodile, symbolic associations with Africa, and more particularly with Egypt, date to classical antiquity. Pliny the Elder began his account of the reptile by noting, “The Nile produces the crocodile.”17 A Roman denarius struck for Augustus Caesar featured a crocodile chained to a palm tree, representing, as the legend “AEGYPTO CAPTA” indicates, the conquest of Egypt (Fig. 1).18 Artists continued to associate Africa and crocodiles well into the early-modern period. The iconography of Augustus’ denarius was reproduced in emblem books; an English translation of Claude Paradin offers the straightforward gloss, “the Crocodile representeth Egipt.”19 Another popular image allegorized Africa as a woman sitting atop a crocodile, featuring in cartouches (Fig. 2) and engravings (Fig. 3).20 In light of this identification, European accounts of crocodiles in the New World embody an attempt to render the disturbingly unfamiliar compatible and contiguous with the old.


Figure 1
Figure 1

AEGYPTO CAPTA, Silver Denarius of Octavian (later Augustus), Pergamum, Silver, 28–27 BCE, Yale University Art Gallery 2001.87.885. Image credit: Yale University Art Gallery


Citation: Early Science and Medicine 20, 3 (2015) ; 10.1163/15733823-00203p01

Figure 2
Figure 2

Detail from Arnold Florent van Langren, “Orbis terrae compendiosa descriptio ex peritissimorum totius orbis Gaeographorum operibus desumta” (Antwerp: apud Joañem Baptistam Vrient, 1596). Image credit: Courtesy of the John Carter Brown Library at Brown University.


Citation: Early Science and Medicine 20, 3 (2015) ; 10.1163/15733823-00203p01

Figure 3
Figure 3

Marten de Vos and Adrian Collaert, Africa, Print / Engraving on Copper, 1594, The Metropolitan Museum of Art 49.95.1516. Image credit: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City


Citation: Early Science and Medicine 20, 3 (2015) ; 10.1163/15733823-00203p01

Observers were quick to identify the reptiles of the New World as familiar beasts. In his Principal Navigations, Richard Hakluyt included a 1565 account of a voyage to modern-day Colombia, whose author reported, “we saw many Crocodiles of sundry bignesses.”21 Hakluyt also reproduced a 1595 narrative by one “Robert Dauie,” who reported that, while anchored at Coche (modern-day Venezuela), “we went a fishing … and drew a shore in the seine a fish called by the Spaniards Lagarto, and by the Indians Caiman, which is indeed a Crocodile.22 We might note that “lagarto” is simply the Spanish word for “lizard,” and had been used for centuries to describe crocodiles.23 This sense that the “lagarto,” “caiman,” or “alligator” were simply alternate terms for the crocodile persisted for generations: in 1685, “R.B.” commented, “the Cayman, Crocodile, or Allegator is very remarkable.”24 As late as 1799, The Naturalist’s Pocket Magazine noted, “Americans usually call their Crocodile the Alligator; by some it is named the Cayman; and, in Brasil, Jacere. Still it is the same animal of different climates.” The same publication spoke of “the Crocodiles of Africa, of Asia, and of America.”25 One late eighteenth- century travel narrative even referred to “the crocodile alligator.”26 Evidently, many found the identification of the two animals to be intellectually satisfying.


But not, it must be said, all. Some identified, and attempted to highlight, differences between the two reptiles. In his A New Voyage Round the World, the English explorer William Dampier penned “an Account of the difference ­between [the alligator] and the Crocodile,” explaining “they are generally ­mistaken for the same Species.” In a systematic comparison, encompassing ­physiology, behavior, and habitat, Dampier persistently distinguishes the two.27 From the opposite camp, a variety of responses arose, all preserving the identification (and consequent affinity between continents). Dampier himself acknowledged one proffered explanation: that “the one [is] supposed to be the Male, the other the Female.”28 The alligator’s smaller size could be rationalized by defining an “alligator” as “no other than a Crocodile not arrived to its full Growth.”29 More generally, the objections of those like Dampier were dismissed as quibbles. No less an authority than the Comte de Buffon opined, “travellers, however, have rather made the distinction than Nature, for in the general outline, and in the nature of these two animals, they are entirely the same.”30 It should also be observed that Dampier did not deny the existence of crocodiles in the Americas (“At Pines in Cuba, there are abundance of Crocodiles”), only the conflation with the alligator.31

Why were natural philosophers so tenacious in asserting and defending the identification? One answer is that the crocodile performed the cultural work of bridging the New World and the Old very well. Sharing the crocodile indicated deeper geographical connections: one account observed that, in America, the reptiles abounded “in the Latitude of about 33 … which Latitude nearly answers to the Northernmost Parts of Africa, where they are likewise found.”32 The link proved so strong that some authors even transposed the alligator eastwards, as when John Tradescant mentioned among his collection an “Alegator or Crocodile, from Aegypt.”33

Furthermore, the cultural traditions attaching to crocodiles extended the integration of the Old and New Worlds beyond the realm of natural philosophy. Frescos and maps began to feature allegories of America, rather than ­Africa, seated upon a crocodile (Fig. 4, Fig. 5).34 Some works, such as a sculpture at Versailles, even showed the two continents sharing a single crocodile.35 In identifying America’s reptiles with the familiar crocodile, European observers could mitigate the strangeness of the New World, and, more importantly, bring it within the established paradigm of God’s creation. Natural philosophy and cultural context jointly stabilized the disrupting impact of the New World’s “newness.” It was thanks to such intellectual expedients that, to quote Grafton, “the discoveries had very little impact on European thought […] [and] left European notions of history and civilization intact.”36 As time passed and the steady influx of new flora and fauna further eroded old cosmologies,37 observers clung to such bridges as would hold, among them the elision of crocodile and alligator.


Figure 4
Figure 4

Detail from Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Allegory of the Planets and Continents, Fresco, 1752–1753, Würzburger Residenz. Image credit: Web Gallery of Art


Citation: Early Science and Medicine 20, 3 (2015) ; 10.1163/15733823-00203p01

Figure 5
Figure 5

Detail from Henry Popple, “A Map of the British Empire in America with the French and Spanish Settlements Adjacent Thereto” (London, 1733). Image credit: Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division


Citation: Early Science and Medicine 20, 3 (2015) ; 10.1163/15733823-00203p01

In closing, it seems worthwhile to address a potential objection: ought we not explain the identification simply as a repeated mistake, the understandable confusion of two very similar animals? Such is George’s reading of the merger of the turkey with the peacock. No doubt this was the case for some observers, but detailed comparisons, such as Dampier’s, indicate that the differences did not go unnoticed – rather, given cultural contexts and cosmographical anxieties, similarities appeared more salient. In Lawrence’s words, “early modern schemes [of taxonomy] were largely based on physical resemblances and emblematic significances.”38 The notion of a ‘mistake’ presup­poses our post-Linnaean understanding of classification: that there is some ‘correct,’ even ‘objective,’ distinction between the crocodile and the alligator.39 Early-modern observers, however, hewed more closely to readings of nature in which specimens were colored by broader cultural valences.40 We must avoid lapsing into “old narratives of the Scientific Revolution, in which the protagonists finally looked at nature and saw what was ‘really’ there.”41

II “Crocodile or ye Leviathan”


As we have seen, it was a central preoccupation of early-modern natural philosophy to calibrate the relationship of new facts to older authorities. Foremost in the minds of many thinkers, of course, was “the most indisputable authority […], the Bible.”42 Ann Blair has highlighted the strand of learned discourse known as “Mosaic Philosophy”: “seeking in the Bible the foundations of natural and moral sciences.”43 Writing in 1713, the eighteenth-century English deist Anthony Collins satirized biblical scholars’ penchant for extolling the extraordinary breadth of knowledge contained within Scripture – not least “a natural History of the Creation of the whole Universe.”44 Animals proved exceptionally useful in thinking through the intersections of biblical authority and natural philosophy: for instance, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century theologians and naturalists devoted copious pages to identifying the biblical Leviathan – with the crocodile as a leading candidate. These debates suggest new manifestations of Mosaic philosophy, structured by religious belief but increasingly waged with the tools of natural philosophy.


Crucially, Mosaic philosophy rested upon “a literal reading of the Bible,” Scripture was not simply a guide for thought, or test of conclusions, but a source of bona fide natural knowledge.45 The Leviathan was no exception: in a 1669 exegesis of the Book of Job, for example, the English clergyman George Hutcheson, insisted, “though some do idly turn [Leviathan] into an Allegory, understanding it of Satan […] yet it is clear from the following Description […] that it is a Sea-Monster.” He continued, “The difficulty is to know what particular Creature, living in the Sea and Waters, is meant by this name.”46

One of the leading scholars on the relationship between Scripture and the natural world was the French biblical commentator Samuel Bochart. His Hierozoicon, a 1692 treatise “on the animals of Sacred Scripture,” is an excellent exemplar of the hermeneutics of Mosaic philosophy, as characterized by the Czech scholar John Amos Comenius: “an harmonical reduction of all things that are and are made, to sense, reason and Scripture.”47 In the case of Leviathan, Bochart argued with equal vigor for identification with the crocodile and against identification with the whale. He methodically analyzed the description in the Book of Job, extracting from each verse a correspondence to the crocodile. To provide a single example, Bochart glosses “his teeth are terrible round about” (Job 41:5)with the observation “[The crocodile’s] teeth are sixty in number, some pointed, some serrated, and they fit together side-by-side. Stubborn is his bite, and so harmful that it is not treated any differently than the bite of a rabid dog.”48

Comenius insisted that the reduction “to sense, reason and Scripture” be carried out “with so much evidence and certainty […] that any mortal man seeing may see, and feeling may feel, the truth scattered every where.”49 Bochart clearly agreed, deliberately and straightforwardly proceeding from Scripture to natural knowledge. For “In his neck strength shall dwell” (Job 41:13), he offers a bluntly logical gloss: “Which a whale does not have. But a crocodile does. This some wrongly deny. For he tilts back his head and jaws, and, with a movement of his neck, casts out the trochilus.”50 Appeal is made directly to the reader’s common sense: “Nobody does not see that this does not pertain to the whale.”51

The structure of the Hierozoicon as a line-by-line analysis of Scripture is ­likewise characteristic, a reflection of the Mosaic philosophers’ penchant for biblical commentaries.52 Furthermore, Ann Blair cautions that the Mosaic philosophers’ emphasis on the Bible did not entail a disregard for classical thinkers: on the contrary, their central premise was that Scripture enabled the more correct use of broader knowledge in all its forms.53 The Hierozoicon is thus filled with references to classical textual authorities: discussing the Leviathan’s tongue, for example, Bochart notes, “Though, indeed, some have written that the crocodile is without a tongue, yet tongue it has, albeit immobile, and adhering to the lower jaw. Both Hebrews and Arabs have noted this, following Aristotle and Pliny, and many more recent [authors].”54

The same techniques of Mosaic philosophy, it should be observed, could be, and were, deployed against identifying the Leviathan as a crocodile. In 1657, a few years before the Hierozoicon, the English biblical scholar John Trapp composed A commentary or exposition upon the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, and the Psalms, wherein he observed, “Leviathan is a common name for all great Sea-Monsters […] Beza and Deodate understand it of the Crocodile, others of the Sea-Dragon: others of the whirl-pool: But most of the Whale.” Trapp proceeded to defend the plausibility of the whale using precisely the same strategies as Bochart, marshaling the biblical text (“Psal. 104.26,” “Psal. 74.14”), natural history (“the Whale bones serve commonly for rafters of houses”), and classical authorities (“Pliny writeth of them”).55

In spite of the objections of Trapp and others, the argument Bochart presented in the Hierozoicon proved compelling, and many subsequent authors glossed the Leviathan as a crocodile, often citing “the guidance of that excellent Critick Bochartus.”56 While some of these scholars were Bochart’s fellow theologians (such as Simon Patrick, bishop of Chichester and Ely), both the question of the Leviathan’s identity, and Bochart’s arguments for its identification with the crocodile, spread to other disciplines. Natural philosophers’ ­engagement with this debate, I suggest, prompts a broader view of Mosaic ­philosophy and its constituent fields.


Nehemiah Grew, compiling his 1681 Musaeum Regalis Societatis, listed the skeleton of “a CROCODILE, about two yards and ½ long.” He commented that the creature was “the same Animal which in the Book of Job is called the Leviathan, and hath been commonly taken to be the Whale; but falsly, as Bochart hath demonstrated.”57 The interest of the passage is not simply that a natural philosopher, in a publication of the Royal Society, saw fit to discuss the identity of the Leviathan in regards to a physical specimen. It is that, for Grew, the identification with Leviathan is a taxonomic determination, not some charming tidbit of trivia; as did Hutcheson, Trapp, and Bochart, Grew regards the Bible as a literal descriptor of the natural world. In witness whereof, consider the illustration Grew included (Fig. 6), bearing the caption “Skeleton of a Crocodile, or ye Leviathan.”58 Besides collections, other new tools of natural philosophy were brought to bear. The Swedish naturalist Fredrik Hasselquist had both dissected a crocodile and observed live specimens in Egypt. He recalled the verse “Can a man draw up the Leviathan?” (Job 40:20), and concluded this referred to the crocodile, for “daily […] this voracious animal, far from being drawn up with a hook, bites off, and destroys all fishing tackle of this kind […]. I found in one that I opened, two hooks which it had swallowed.”59

Figure 6
Figure 6

“Crocodile or ye Leviathan,” from Nehemiah Grew, Musaeum Regalis Societatis. Or a Catalogue & Description of the Natural and Artificial Rarities Belonging to the Royal Society and Preserved at Gresham Colledge (London: W. Rawlins, 1681). Image credit: Yale University, Harvey Cushing / John Hay Whitney Medical Library


Citation: Early Science and Medicine 20, 3 (2015) ; 10.1163/15733823-00203p01

But, as with Trapp, those arguing for other candidates as the Leviathan also took full advantage of the naturalists’ apparatus. The Danish scholar Erik Pontoppidan contended in his The Natural History of Norway that the Leviathan was neither crocodile nor whale, but a sea serpent of the North Sea. Alongside the traditional references to Scripture, natural history, and common sense, Pontoppidan, whose books proclaimed the use of “Physiological Notes from Eminent Writers, and Transactions of Academies,” avails himself of virtual witnesses from among other northern naturalists (“I […] should hardly believe the good Olaus [Magnus], if he did not say that he affirmed this from his own experience”).60

What united both camps was, of course, the conviction that the Leviathan did refer to a real, identifiable creature, the bedrock of biblical facticity. Several features of this relationship between Scriptural authority and natural philosophy are worth highlighting. First, it must be recognized that the aim was not to support the Bible with natural evidence; to the contrary, it was for Scripture to regulate natural inquiry.61 Bochart proclaimed, “Because truth cannot differ from truth, I am moved to reconcile the philosophers with the prophets.”62 He compiled correspondences to prove the correctness of his identification, not the existence of the Leviathan. The same applied where correspondences failed: Hutcheson noted, “the Crocodile […] is neither so big, nor so fierce as here this Monster [viz., Leviathan] is described to be.” The logical inference was that some other creature “is meant by this name,” not that the Bible was dealing in mythical beasts.63

Furthermore, parsing various scholars’ analyses reveals some of the assumptions structuring their reading. The characteristics of the natural knowledge contained in the Bible shifted over time.64 For Hutcheson, writing in 1669, biblical truth existed outside of context, and applied to all places and times with equal force:


As for Whales that are known to us, it is certain this Description agreeth not to them; for they […] are taken by men, as [the Leviathan] is not […] And to say, that God describes it thus, because then men knew not the way of taking them, as they do now, is not only a false supposition […] but saith in effect, that God could then refute Job, but could not have refuted him, had he lived in our days.65

With the passage of time, however, and greater involvement from natural philosophy, the approach had shifted. Many eighteenth-century writers were no less deferential to the Bible’s authority; as we have seen, they continued to employ Scripture as the touchstone of their conclusions.66 At the same time, their readings, such as Pontoppidan’s and Hasselquist’s interpretations of Job, anchored the Bible’s truth in a historical and geographical context. Hasselquist reasoned, “How is it possible, that Job could by the Leviathan mean the Whale […]. How, I say, could he speak of an animal, which never was seen in the place where he wrote, and at a time when he certainly could have no history of Greenland and Spitzbergen?”67 It seems significant that both Pontoppidan and Hasselquist were writing natural histories – perhaps this later approach is best characterized as treating the Bible as the perfectly authoritative virtual witness.


Blair acknowledges “the shifting boundaries of the flexible category of ‘Mosaic philosophy.’”68 The debate over the identity of the Leviathan expands those boundaries beyond primarily religious frameworks, genres, and methods. To be sure, the argument began in the pages of biblical commentaries and relied upon traditional tools of Scriptural exegesis, textual authority, and common sense. It was, however, soon carried on with the techniques and in the forums of natural history, and was transformed by this contact. The crossovers are, perhaps, hardly surprising: biblical scholars were increasingly coming to recognize that history, languages, natural philosophy, and other sorts of “philological learning” were necessary for their endeavors. I hasten to add, however, that there was no straightforward ‘progress’ from religious speculation to objective natural inquiry. Theological methods and meanings endured side-by-side with more ‘scientific’ tools. The crocodile/Leviathan, like the dragon trees studied by Peter Mason, could “move effortlessly from a secular to a religious context and back again.”69 Indeed, it did much to dissolve the boundaries between the two, or at least to help early-modern intellectuals to think through their intersections.


III From Churches to Wunderkammern


Amid the gathered exotica, naturalia, and artificialia of the early-modern Wunderkammer, a preserved crocodile, often hanging from the ceiling, is almost a sine qua non.70 Among the most celebrated collectors, Basilius Besler, Ole Worm, Manfredo Settala, August Hermann Francke, Francesco Calzolari, and Ferrante Imperato all boasted specimens.71 Bruce Boucher speaks of “the indispensable crocodile.”72 The crocodile’s ubiquity, as well as its regular placement high in the room, derives in part from the web of religious and cultural associations we have already traced. These rendered the creature an object of fascination, dictated its position in the collection, and shaped the cultural significance of Wunderkammern.


Figure 7
Figure 7

Frontispiece to Imperato, Ferrante. Historia naturale di Ferrante Imperato napolitano nella quale ordinatamente si tratta della diversa condition di minere, pietre pretiose, ed altre curiosità. Con varie historie di piante, ed animali, sin’hora non date in luce (Venetia [Venice]: Presso Combi, & la Noù, 1672). Image credit: The Wellcome Library, London.


Citation: Early Science and Medicine 20, 3 (2015) ; 10.1163/15733823-00203p01

At first glance, the place of the crocodile in the Wunderkammer seems easily explained. The lion’s share of space in early-modern Wunderkammern was given over to natural specimens: witness, as a single example, the proliferation of birds, amphibians, reptiles, fish, and insects adorning the walls of Imperato’s Museo (Fig. 7).73 Paula Findlen has commented on a particular interest in “dragons,” such as Francesco Calzolari’s “basilisk” or Ulisse Aldrovandi’s “dragone mostroficato,” featured in the collections and the writings of several genera­tions of scholars.74 No clear taxonomy distinguished crocodiles from dragons or snakes – to the contrary, both dragons and crocodiles were considered “large, exotic snakes,” a kinship that bestowed upon the crocodile elements of the dangerous and the fantastic. 75 Moreover, there was considerable attraction in objects that blurred boundaries, whether of materials, origins, or, as in the case of the crocodile, of taxonomies.76 Nor should we ignore sheer spectacle: an adult crocodile, such as the prodigious specimen displayed by Imperato, is visually striking, to say the least.77 These were precisely the qualities collectors prized in early-modern naturalia: namely, the ability to inspire awe from observers. Ambroise Paré, for example, noted Charles IX’s penchant for “large, weighty, and monstrous things.”78

The crocodile also satisfied the passion for exotica, desirable both for the allure of foreignness and for extending the collection’s microcosm.79 We have already noted the tradition, dating back to classical antiquity, associating the crocodile with Africa and the Middle East in general, and with Egypt in particular, as well as its iconographic manifestations (Fig. 1).80 The antiquity of such links, and of crocodilian natural history more generally (medieval accounts drew heavily on Pliny, Herodotus, and Aristotle, among others) gave the reptile the sort of classical pedigree so beloved by Renaissance humanists.81 Likewise, the newer associations with both hemispheres, discussed in part I, offered a potent contribution to collectors’ attempts to create a microcosm within the Wunderkammer. The fragmentation of established cosmographies made the aim of all-encompassing order through collections all the more significant.82

Such considerations certainly made the crocodile an attractive acquisition, but no more so than a host of other fantastic creatures. It was, I suggest, the specific religious meanings attached to the crocodile that distinguished it from a shark, a giraffe, or a jaguar, by way of example. Of course, as Findlen reminds us, many specimens could function as “harbingers of God’s will.”83 Fossils were supposed by some to be victims of the biblical Flood, and thus “direct witnesses to […] biblical events and God’s wrath”; Athanasius Kircher took a ­special interest in collecting plants “marked with the cross.”84 The possible identification with Leviathan could also resonate with the common ambition to collect all the flora and fauna mentioned in Scripture, which extended to the most extreme speciments – at least one Wunderkammer included a creature labeled as a “Behemot.”85 But, I posit, the crocodile could marshal more specific and more potent identifications as a figure of evil. Recall that the premodern imagination, both visual and taxonomic, placed crocodiles alongside dragons and snakes in a fluid continuum of “serpents.” Accordingly, crocodiles could evoke many of the serpentine representations of sin and sinfulness that populate Christian thought.


Figure 8
Figure 8

“Hours, use of Rome.” Beinecke MS 287. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Image credit: General Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.


Citation: Early Science and Medicine 20, 3 (2015) ; 10.1163/15733823-00203p01

The archetype of reptilian wickedness is, of course, Satan’s appearance as the Serpent (nahash)in the Garden of Eden.86 Most artists have envisioned the nahash as a snake, albeit often one with a human face and hands, as in Peter Paul Rubens’ Adam and Eve.87 It should be observed that many pre-modern images of the crocodile resemble snakes.88 At the same time, not a few images – among them Hugo van der Goes’ The Fall of Adam, Hieronymous Bosch’s Last Judgment Triptych, and a late fifteenth-century Flemish book of hours held in the Beinecke Library – feature a nahash sporting distinctly crocodilian hind legs and tail (Fig. 8).89 At the opposite end of Christian sacred history, crocodiles could also be identified with Satan’s incarnation as the dragon of Revelation: “And that great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, who is called the devil and Satan.”90 In the Apocalypse Tapestry of Angers, for example, the dragon’s many heads emanate from a reddish crocodilian body.91

The crocodile’s closest connection to Scripture is the identification with the Leviathan, the great sea monster, described in Isaiah 27:1 as “the crooked serpent.”92 The exegetical debates over this parallel have already been discussed at length, and we need only recall here that the link invoked monstrous power and divine might. The description found in the Book of Job, particularly verses 41:10–12, is also thought to have inspired depictions of hell as a monster’s gaping jaws (“Hellmouth”): “Out of his mouth go forth lamps, like torches of lighted fire. Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, like that of a pot heated and boiling. His breath kindleth coals, and a flame cometh forth out of his mouth.” Given Leviathan’s identification with the crocodile, and the prominence of the reptile’s jaws in every account from Pliny onwards, it is unsurprising that some artists gave “Hellmouth” a crocodilian appearance.93

Compounding this connection was the story of the hydrus. This “water snake” is, according to classical sources, the mortal foe of the crocodile: it swims into the reptile’s mouth and tears its way out of the stomach, killing its host. This gruesome image conjured parallels with Christ’s descent into Hell and victorious Resurrection. As one English bestiary explains, “So, then, death and hell have the likeness of the crocodile, for the Lord Jesus Christ is hostile to them. For taking on Himself our human flesh, He descended into hell and, bursting all its bowels, led out those who were unjustly held bound by it.”94 In sum, to quote Jean-Loïc Le Quellec, “With one voice the ancient authors insist upon the diabolical symbolism of the enormous reptile […]. Philippe de Thaun, for example, tells us, ‘In this world, the crocodile signifies the devil.’”95

Figure 9
Figure 9

“British Library Add MS 38126: Book of Hours, Use of Rome (The ‘Huth Hours’),” British Library Digitised Manuscripts (Flanders, 1480), 143v. Image credit: The British Library


Citation: Early Science and Medicine 20, 3 (2015) ; 10.1163/15733823-00203p01

Beyond the Bible, identification with dragons offered broader possibilities for the crocodile’s association with evil. In hagiography, dragons recur as vivid embodiments of the forces of darkness for saints to vanquish; illustrators frequently modeled these serpentine adversaries on crocodiles. The most famous such encounter was that of George of Lydda, who appears the late fifteenth-century Flemish “Huth Hours,” for example, standing over a very crocodilian dragon (Fig. 9).96 The roughly contemporaneous French “Victorines-d’Auxy Hours” shows George spearing “not a dragon – but a crocodile.” The same artist depicts Margaret of Antioch protruding from the belly of, a “pudgy crocodile,” in Louise W. Lippincott’s felicitous phrase.97 Legend held that Margaret was swallowed by a dragon and emerged unscathed; the parallels both to Christ and to the hydrus are obvious. Like George, Theodore of Amasea was revered for defeating a troublesome dragon, which, atop the saint’s column in Venice’s Piazza San Marco, appears as a crocodile. As hagiography also highlights Theodore’s triumph over idolatry, the crocodile may gesture towards Egyptian pagan deities.98 (In this context, we might also note the Baroque fascination with Egyptian hieroglyphs, and their supposed power to communicate fundamental truths about the universe.)99

Even apart from such specific iconographic associations, the crocodile was a symbol of sin, particularly hypocrisy.100 Different stories were told about the infamous “crocodile tears:” some, like Philippe de Thaun, claimed, “if it can devour a man, when it has eaten him, it weeps.”101 Others held that the tears were a ruse to entrap unwitting victims – as in William Shakespeare’s Henry VI, Part Two, where Queen Margaret likens one character’s protestat-ions of in­nocence to how “the mournful crocodile / With sorrow snares relenting passengers” (III.i.226–227).102 Regardless, crocodiles embodied a potent ­mixture of associations, invoking Christianity’s most striking figures of evil. Consequently, they were objects of metaphysical, as well as physical, awe – in short, fitting specimens for a Wunderkammer.103

That said, what clinched the ubiquity of the crocodile, and cemented its position (both spatial and conceptual) in the collection, was a centuries-old tradition that played upon the affinities between Wunderkammern and Christian sites of worship. It should be observed that the distinction between premodern churches and collections was far from clear. Boucher notes, “for example, the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople, San Marco […] or the cathedral in Campo Santo in Pisa functioned in part as museums.”104 They displayed extensive collections of art and specimens of “exotic nature, real and imagined.”105 Likewise, Wunderkammern often contained religious messages: Kircher, for one, collected plants and stones “marked with the cross,” conducted demonstrations to calculate the dimensions of Noah’s Ark, and generally used the Roman College Museum to support Catholic cosmology. On a theoretical level, he linked accurate knowledge of nature to orthodox faith.106

In light of these affinities, it is significant that crocodiles featured prominently in many premodern churches. Their potent religious valences and dra-matic appearance made the reptiles a common element of church decorative programs, particularly sculpture,107 as well as in religious processions.108 More importantly, however, the bodies of actual crocodiles were frequently displayed in sacred spaces (Fig. 10).109

Figure 10
Figure 10

Photograph of the crocodile hanging in Santuario della Madonna delle Lacrime (Ponte Nossa, Italy). Image Credit: Courtesy of Santuario della Madonna delle Lacrime


Citation: Early Science and Medicine 20, 3 (2015) ; 10.1163/15733823-00203p01

The latter practice dates at least to the High Middle Ages. The crocodile at the cathedral of Seville, for example, was a gift of the sultan of Egypt in 1260.110 The reptiles’ bodies could be placed on an interior wall (as at Oiron),111 but, more commonly, hung from the ceiling – either doubled over (as at Macerata)112 or stretched out to full length (as at Curtatone).113 All three configurations are echoed in Wunderkammern: in the Museum Wormianum, the crocodile is hung against a wall; in Calzolari’s cabinet, it is suspended from the middle; and in Imperato’s Museo, it extends to its magnificent full length (Fig. 7).114 Regardless of pose, the beast is almost always lodged near the ceiling.


Such displays drew meaning from the crocodile’s cultural and religious associations. Beyond its diabolical symbolism, the creature was often supposed to be an actual dragon (the reptile in Valencia’s Real Colegio del Corpus Christi is still known as “El Dragón del Patriarca” or “El Drac del Patriarca”),115 which, as in hagiography, had devastated the region until dispatched by a devout hero.116 Emphasis is also often given to the beast’s exotic origins: Egypt,117 Mexico,118 and India.119 Combining both patterns are crocodiles said to have been slain by crusaders in the Holy Land and sent back to Europe as ex-votos.120 Prominently displaying such creatures manifested both Christianity’s victory over the demonic and its global reach.121

Though the profusion of the Wunderkammer is often characterized as “the fairly haphazard amassing of anomalous things,”122 their arrangement was deliberate, attending both to careful schemes of organization and to the desired sensory impact (“to heighten the aesthetic pleasure of viewing nature”).123 Hanging a crocodile from the ceiling borrowed an iconic element of the visual vocabulary of a church. Indeed, the Pavian polymath Girolamo Cardano “laid out guidelines for a collection […] based on […] the treasure of Saint-Denis.”124 Borrowing from an ecclesial visual vocabulary transferred to the Wunderkammer something of the church’s cultural capital, thus shaping the space and meaning of the collection.


In the first place, association with churches served to legitimate, even to sanctify, the Wunderkammer. As we have seen, collections were frequently imbued with sacred meanings. Moreover, the social context for Wunderkammern must be remembered: collecting was “an activity of choice among the social and educated elite.”125 Images of collections, such as the frontispiece to Imperato’s Dell’Historia Naturale (Fig. 7), depict well-dressed visitors appreciating the spectacle.126 Collectors expended great effort on entertaining elite guests, securing patronage, and publicizing noteworthy visits – they were, simply put, vehicles of social advancement and self-creation.127 For sought-after patrons, visual ties to the familiar space of a church would have made the experience much more natural. Furthermore, the crocodile could enhance the aesthetic experience of the Wunderkammer by aligning it with that of a church (whatever else they might be, premodern churches were sites of extraordinary sensory experience): consider, for example, the high ceilings, long galleries, and altar-like cabinets of Settala’s cabinet.128

As a final point, let us return to the Book of Job, specifically verse 40:20, where God contrasts his power with Job’s weakness: “Canst thou draw out the Leviathan with a hook?” For a church to suspend the crocodile/Leviathan from the ceiling might symbolize the divine triumph over “the crooked serpent,” that fearsome symbol of evil. In hanging up his own crocodile, the early-modern collector laid claim to a similarly divine power over the natural world – a status further reflected in the figurative act of Creation of the Wunderkammer’s microcosm.129

Conclusion


The crocodile could be deployed to bridge a gap in cosmologies, map the Bible onto the natural world, and reshape the conceptual space of a collection – but these capabilities arose, at least in part, from the nexus of meanings and associations specific to that particular reptile. Nehemiah Grew’s caption was truer than he knew: his specimen was indeed “A Crocodile or ye Leviathan.” Enmeshed in dense networks of associations, the embodiment of sin and the personification of exotic (or familiar) lands, no crocodile was ever just a crocodile – it could perform cultural work impossible for another creature with a different symbolic profile.


Following in the crocodile’s trail, one finds reptilian footprints left all over the landscape of early-modern knowledge. Without doubt, there are countless other tracks still undiscovered. Finding them, however, will demand an embrace of the specificity of one’s quarry: precious little will be found if we set out in search of “animals,” full stop. Moreover, it requires occasionally letting the animal lead us: an acknowledgement that each beast (and its images) has the potential to produce and shape meaning in its own right – perhaps even to think with its human scholars.


Appendix: A Handlist of Extant Crocodiles


Belgium (1)


Oudenaarde, Kerselare130

The Czech Republic (1)


Brno, Stará radnice131

France (7)


Abbeville, Église Saint-Vulfran132

Nîmes, Hôtel de Ville133

Marseilles, Abbaye Saint-Victor de Marseille134

Metz, Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Metz135

Oiron, Collégiale Saint-Maurice136

Pignans, Notre Dame des Anges137

Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges, also referred to as the Cathédrale Sainte-Marie138

Germany (1)


Halle, Franckesche Stiftung139

Italy (12)


Bergamo, San Giorgio di Almenno140

Curtatone, Santuario della Beata Vergine delle Grazie141

Legnago, Chiesa di San Salvaro142

Macerata, Santa Maria delle Virgini143

Modena, Santa Maria della Grazia144

Ponte Nossa, Santuario della Madonna delle Lacrime145

Poppi, Antica Farmacia di Camaldoli146

Ragusa, Chiesa di San Giogrio147

Rapallo, Santuario di Nostra Signora di Montallegro148

Santa Fiora, Convento della Santissima Trinità alla Selva149

Varese, Santuario di Santa Maria del Monte150

Verona, Chiesa di Madonna di Campagna151

Portugal (1)


Sernancelhe, Santuário de Nossa Senhora da Lapa152

Spain (13)


Ávila, Ermita de Nuestra Señora de Sonsoles153

Berlanga de Duero, Colegiata de Santa María del Mercado154

Córdoba, Santuario de Nuestra Señora de la Fuensanta155

Jaén, Basílica-Santuario de Nuestra Señora de la Capilla y Sacra Iglesia Parroquial de San Ildefonso156

Madrid, Iglesia de San Ginés de Arlés157

Medina de Rioseco, Santa María de Mediavilla158

Santa María la Real de Nieva, Iglesia Monasterio de Nuestra Señora de la Soterraña159

Santiago de la Puebla, Iglesia Parroquial160

Seville, Catedral de Santa María de la Sede de Sevilla161

Tenerife, Ermita de las Angustias de Icod de los vinos162

Utrera, Santuario de la Virgen de Consolación163

Valencia, Real Colegio del Corpus Christi, also known as el Patriarca164

Viso del Marqués, Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción165

1Claude Lévi-Strauss, Le totemisme aujourd’hui (Paris, 1962), 128.


2William B. Ashworth, Jr., “Emblematic Natural History of the Renaissance,” in Cultures of Natural History, edited by Nicholas Jardine, James A. Secord, and Emma C. Spary, 17–37 (Cambridge, 1996), 36.


3Charlotte Sleigh, “Jan Swammerdam’s Frogs,” Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, 66 (2012), 373–392, 388.


4Simon Ditchfield, “Thinking with Saints: Sanctity and Society in the Early Modern World,” Critical Inquiry, 35 (2009), 552–584, 554.


5Ann Blair, “Mosaic Physics and the Search for a Pious Natural Philosophy in the Late Renaissance,” Isis, 91 (2000), 32–58, 33, 35.


6Anthony Grafton, with April Shelford and Nancy Siraisi, New Worlds, Ancient Texts: The Power of Traditions and the Shock of Discovery (Cambridge, 1992), 4–5. 


7In the words of Tzvetan Todorov, Columbus “knows in advance what he will find; the concrete experience is there to illustrate a truth already possessed, not to be interrogated according to preestablished rules in order to seek the truth.” Stephen Greenblatt, Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World (Chicago, 1991), 88.


8Wilma George, “Sources and Background to Discoveries of New Animals in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries,” History of Science, 18 (1980), 79–104, 101. 


9Joan-Pau, Rubiés, “New Worlds and Renaissance Ethnology,” History and Anthropology, 6 (1993), 157–197, 159–161.


10Susan Scott Parrish, “The Female Opossum and the Nature of the New World,” The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd series, 54 (1997), 475–514, 480. Rubiés, “New Worlds,” 161, 181.


11George, “New Animals,” 100.


12Parrish, “Female Opossum,” 485. 


13George, “New Animals,” 101.


14Parrish, “Female Opossum,” 485. While Parrish usefully highlights the familiarity of the Old World animals as the source of their “morphological normalcy,” it seems to me that it was equally the product of religious associations, to which I shall return farther on.


15Parrish, “Female Opossum,” 485.


16Natalie Lawrence, “Assembling the Dodo in Early Modern Natural History,” The British Journal for the History of Science, FirstView article (2015), 1–22, 12.


17George C. Druce, “The Symbolism of the Crocodile in the Middle Ages,” The Archaeological Journal, 66 (1909), 311–338, 315–316.


18, silver, 28–27 bce, Yale University Art Gallery, 2001.87.885, http://artgallery.yale.edu/collections/objects/97492 [accessed 19 May 2015]. 


19Claude Paradin, The Heroicall Devises of M. Claudius Paradin, Canon of Beauieu. Whereunto Are Added the Lord Gabriel Symeons. Translated out of Latin into English by P.S. (London, 1591), 81–82.


20See the lower right cartouche to Arnold Florent van Langren, Orbis terrae compendiosa descriptio ex peritissimorum totius orbis Gaeographorum operibus desumta (Antwerp, 1596), John Carter Brown Library, Brown University. Maerten de Vos and Adriaen Collaert, Africa, Print / Engraving on Copper, (1594), Metropolitan Museum of Art, 59.654.9, http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/385673 [accessed 19 May 2015].


21Richard Hakluyt, The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation, Made by Sea or Ouerland, to the Remote and Farthest Distant Quarters of the Earth, at Any Time within the Compasse of These 1600 Yeres: Diuided into Three Seuerall Volumes, according to the Positions of the Regions, Whereunto They Were Directed (London, 1599), 512. Italics in the original.


22Richard Hakluyt, The Principal Navigations, Voyages, Traffiques and Discoveries of the English Nation, Made by Sea or Ouerland, to the Remote and Farthest Distant Quarters of the Earth, at Any Time within the Compasse of These 1600 Yeres: Diuided into Three Seuerall Volumes, according to the Positions of the Regions, Whereunto They Were Directed (London, 1599), 579.


23In the Cathedral of Seville, the doorway where the crocodile hangs is known as the “Puerta del Lagarto.” See a drawing, dating to 1867–1872, by Marià Fortuny, at the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, 105023-D http://museunacional.cat/es/colleccio/puerta-del-lagarto-de-la-catedral-de-sevilla/maria-fortuny/105023-d [accessed 19 May 2015]. More recently, the specimen has been replaced by a wooden model. Johannes Tripps, “‘Reliquien’ von Halberstädter Drachen und seine Artgenossen” in “Ich armer sunder mensch”: Heiligen- und Reliquienkult am Übergang sum konfessionellen Zeitalter, edited by Andreas Tacke, 74–99 (Göttingen, 2006),84.


24R. B., The English Empire in America: Or a Prospect of His Majesties Dominions in the West-Indies (London, 1685), 165. Italics in the original.


25, 8 volumes, (London, 1799), 2: n.p. 


26William Bartram, Travels through North and South Carolina, Georgia, East and West Florida, the Cherokee Country, the Extensive Territories of the Muscogulges or Creek Confederacy, and the Country of the Choctaws (Philadelphia, 1792), 173.


27William Dampier, A New Voyage Round the World. Describing Particularly, The Isthmus of America, Several Coasts and Islands in the West Indies, the Isles of Cape Verd, the Passage by Terra Del Fuego, the South Sea Coasts of Chili, Peru and Mexico, the Isle of Guam One of the Ladrones, Mindanao, and Other Philippine and East-India Islands near Cambodia, China, Formosa, Luconia, Celebes, &c., New Holland, Sumatra, Nicobar Isles, the Cape of Good Hope, and Santa Hellena: Their Soil, Rivers, Harbours, Plants, Fruits, Animals, and Inhabitants: Their Customs, Religion, Government, Trade, & c. (London, 1697), 74–75.


28Dampier, New Voyage, 74.


29Thomas Boreman, A Description of Three Hundred Animals; Viz. Beasts, Birds, Fishes, Serpents, and Insects, with a Particular Account of the Whale-Fishery (London, 1730), 67.


30, 2 vols. (London, 1792), 2:257. Naturalist’s Pocket Magazine, n.p.


31Dampier, New Voyage, 75.


32Mark Catesby, The Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands: Containing the Figures of Birds, Beasts, Fishes, Serpents, Insects and Plants: Particularly the Forest-Trees, Shrubs, and Other Plants, Not Hitherto Described, or Very Incorrectly Figured by Authors. Together with Their Descriptions in English and French. To Which Are Added, Observations on the Air, Soil, and Waters: With Remarks upon Agriculture, Grain, Pulse, Roots, &c. To the Whole Is Prefixed a New and Correct Map of the Countries Treated Of. By the Late Mark Catesby, F.R.S. Revis’d by Mr. Edwards, of the Royal College of Physicians, London, 2 volumes, (London, 1754), 2:63. Italics in the original. Similar early-modern explanations of variations in human skin color. Peter Mason, Before Disenchantment: Images of Exotic Animals and Plants in the Early Modern World (London, 2009), 42–43.


33John Tradescant, Musaeum Tradescantianum: Or, A Collection of Rarities. Preserved at South-Lambeth Neer London by John Tradescant (London, 1656), 6.


34Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Allegory of the Planets and Continents, fresco, 1752–1753, Würzburger Residenz. Henry Popple, A Map of the British Empire in America with the French and Spanish Settlements Adjacent Thereto (London, 1733). Grafton, with Shelford and Siraisi, New Worlds, 244.


35Etienne Le Hongre, L’Afrique, marble, 1678–1679, Versailles: décor sculpté extérieur, http://www.sculpturesversailles.fr/html/5b/selection/page_notice-ok.php?Ident=D&NoticeId= 70&myPos=1 [accessed 19 May 2015]. Thomas Regnaudin, L’Amérique, marble, 1678–1679, Versailles: décor sculpté extérieur, http://www.sculpturesversailles.fr/html/5b/selection/page_notice-ok.php?Ident=D&NoticeId=71&myPos=1 [accessed 19 May 2015]. 


36Grafton, with Shelford and Siraisi, New Worlds, 6.


37Eric Jorink, “Noah’s Ark Restored (and Wrecked): Dutch Collectors, Natural History and the Problem of Biblical Exegesis,” in Silent Messengers: The Circulation of Material Objects of Knowledge in the Early Modern Low Countries, edited by Sven Dupré and Christoph Lüthy (Münster, 2011), 153–182, 174–175.


38Lawrence, “Assembling the Dodo,” 12.


39I am indebted to Patrick J. Geary for a very thought-provoking conversation on this point.


40“When a biblically aware early modern such as Swammerdam saw a frog, he saw something that was theologically problematic.” Sleigh, “Jan Swammerdam’s Frogs,” 377. “Renaissance scientific knowledge […] was also historical knowledge.” Grafton, with Shelford and Siraisi, New Worlds, 165.


41Smith and Findlen, “Representation of Nature,” 11.


42Blair, “Mosaic Physics,” 34, 50. Jonathan Sheehan, “From Philology to Fossils: The Biblical Encyclopedia in Early Modern Europe,” Journal of the History of Ideas, 64 (2003), 41–60, 46, 60.


43Blair, “Mosaic Physics,” 34. For an excellent discussion of the role of religious knowledge in organizing natural knowledge, see Jorink, “Noah’s Ark.”


44Collins’s lampoon of claims for the bible’s contents is worth reproducing at length: “There is a natural History of the Creation of the whole Universe […] and a Civil and Ecclesiastical History of all Mankind from the Beginning of the World for above 2000 years […] There are contain’d in it the municipal Laws of a Country, the Institution of two Religions […] several natural and miraculous Phaenomena of Nature; Descriptions of magnificent Buildings, References to Husbandry, Sailing, Physick, Pharmacy, Mathematicks, and everything else that can be named.” Sheehan, “Philology to Fossils,” 41.


45Blair, “Mosaic Physics,” 33, 50.


46George Hutcheson, An Exposition of the Book of Job: Being the Sum of CCCXVI Lectures, Preached in the City of Edenburgh (London, 1669), 37. A similar debate took place over the identity of the biblical re’em, or unicorn. Jorink, “Noah’s Ark,” 162.


47“de animalibus Sacrae Scripturae.” Samuel Bochart, Hierozoicon, sive bipertitum [sic] opus de animalibus Sacrae Scripturae (Leiden, 1692), n.p.; Blair, “Mosaic Physics,” 39–40.


48“In gyro dentium ejus terror.” “Dentes ei sexaginta, vel exerti, vel serrati, et pectinatim coeuntes. Morsus tenax, et ita perniciosus ut non curetur aliter quam morsus rabidi canis.” Bochart, Hierozoicon, 58.


49Blair, “Mosaic Physics,” 39–40.


50Bochart, Hierozoicon, 59: “In collo ejus moratur robur,” “Quod balaena nullum habet. At crocodilus habet. Id nonnulli perperam negant. Nam caput resupinat ad morsum et colli motu trochilum excutit.” 


51Bochart, Hierozoicon, 59: “Haec ad balaenam non pertinere nemo non videt.” 


52Bochart, Hierozoicon, 59: “Haec ad balaenam non pertinere nemo non videt.” 57–59. Blair, “Mosaic Physics,” 48, 53.


53Blair, “Mosaic Physics,” 49–50. Sheehan, “Philology to Fossils,” 42.


54Bochart, Hierozoicon, 58: “Utut enim crocodilum elinguem esse nonnulli scribant, tamen linguam habet, sed immobilem, et inferiori maxillae adhaerentem. Quod post Aristotelem et Plinium notant Hebraei et Arabes, et multi recentiorum.” 


55John Trapp, A Commentary or Exposition Upon the Books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, and Psalms (London, 1657), 352. Italics in the original.


56Symon Patrick, The Book of Job Paraphras’d (London, 1679), 8. Nehemiah Grew, Musaeum Regalis Societatis. Or a Catalogue & Description of the Natural and Artificial Rarities Belonging to the Royal Society and Preserved at Gresham Colledge (London, 1681), 41. Italics in the original.


57Grew, Musaeum Regalis Societatis, 41. Italics in the original.


58Ibid., n.p. The significance of Grew’s annotations is best understood through Paula Findlen’s differentiation between an inventory and a catalogue: “Inventories record the contents of a museum. They quantify its reality, listing the objects without attaching analytical meaning to them. Catalogues purport to interpret […] More than an unadorned list, the catalogue provided a self-conscious presentation of a collection. Catalogues were repositories of multiple intersecting stories that textualized and contextualized each object […], they situated an object historically, philologically, and comparatively.” Paula Findlen, Possessing Nature: Museums, Collecting, and Scientific Culture in Early Modern Italy (Berkeley, 1996), 36–37.


59Frederick Hasselquist, Voyages and Travels in the Levant; In the Years 1749, 50, 51, 52. Containing Observations in Natural History, Physick, Agriculture, and Commerce: Particularly On the Holy Land, and the Natural History of the Scriptures (London, 1766), 216, 439–440.


60Erik Pontoppidan, The Natural History of Norway: Containing a Particular and Accurate Account of the Temperature of the Air, the Different Soils, Waters, Vegetables, Metals, Minerals, Stones, Beasts, Birds, and Fishes; Together with the Dispositions, Customs, and Manner of Living of the Inhabitants: Interspersed with Physiological Notes From Eminent Writers, and Transactions of Academies, 2 volumes, (London, 1755), 2:204–207.


61Sheehan, “Philology to Fossils,” 46–47.


62Sheehan, “Philology to Fossils,” 46. Italics mine.


63Hutcheson, Exposition, 37. Writers of every faction in early-modern confessional and intellectual conflicts “took the Bible as the only fully valid account of the past,” including natural history. Grafton, with Shelford and Siraisi, New Worlds, 207. By contrast, Sheehan suggests that the confidence in biblical accuracy expressed by authors like Bochart was an attempt to stifle anxieties. Sheehan, “Philology to Fossils,” 46.


64Blair, “Mosaic Physics,” 50.


65Hutcheson, Exposition, 37–38. Italics in the original.


66Hasselquist, Voyages and Travels, 216. Pontoppidan, Natural History, 206.


67Ibid., 440.


68Blair, “Mosaic Physics,” 35.


69Mason, Before Disenchantment, 60.


70Consider, for instance, William Shakespeare’s description of an apothecary’s shop: “And in his needy shop a tortoise hung, / An alligator stuff’d, and other skins / Of ill-shap’d fishes” (Romeo and Juliet v.i.42–43). Here I disagree with William H. Helfand, who, it seems to me, makes too definite a differentiation between apothecaries and pharmacies on the one hand, and Wunderkammern on the other. Many prominent collectors were practicing apothecaries, whose museums doubled as workshops. William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, edited by Brian Gibbons, The Arden Shakespeare (Second Series) (London, 2003), 219. William H. Helfand, “On Stuffed Animals Hanging from the Ceiling,” The Gazette of the Grolier Club, 63 (2012), 5–37, passim.


71Robert Felfe, “Collections and the Surface of the Image: Pictorial Strategies in Early-Modern Wunderkammern,” in Collection – Laboratory – Theater: Scenes of Knowledge in the 17th Century, edited by Helmar Schramm, Ludger Schwarte, and Jan Lazardzig, 228–265 (Berlin, 2005), 232. Ole Worm, Museum Wormianum. Seu, Historia rerum rariorum, tam na­turalium, quam artificialium, tam domesticarum, quam exoticarum, quae Hafniae Danorum in aedibus authoris servantur. Adornata ab Olao Worm (Amsterdam, 1655), n.p. ­William Mueller, “Mathematical Wunderkammern,” The American Mathematical Monthly, 108 (2001), 785–796, 785. “Kinderkreativzentrum Krokoseum | Frankesche Stiftungen zu Halle,” http://www.francke-halle.de/kinderkreativzentrum-krokoseum/einrichtungen-e-2.html [accessed 19 May 2015]. Benedetto Ceruti and Andrea Chiocco, Musaeum Franc. Calceolari iun. veronensis (Verona, 1622), n.p. Ferrante Imperato, Historia naturale di Ferrante Imperato napolitano nella quale ordinatamente si tratta della diversa condition di Miniere, Pietre pretiose, & altre curiosità. Con varie Historie di Piante, & Animali, sin’hora non date in luce (Venice, 1672), n.p.


72Bruce Boucher, Encyclopedic Museums – Cabinets of Curiosity, MPEG–1, Art Institute of Chicago Lectures (Chicago, 2008). 


73Imperato, Historia naturale, n.p.


74Paula Findlen, “Inventing Nature: Commerce, Art, and Science in the Early Modern Cabinet of Curiosities,” in Merchants and Marvels, edited by Pamela Smith and Paula Findlen, 297–323 (New York, 2002), 307, 312–313. Findlen, Possessing Nature, 17–21, 28.


75Louise W. Lippincott, “The Unnatural History of Dragons,” Philadelphia Museum of Art Bulletin, 77 (1981), 2–24, 3.


76Lorraine Daston and Katharine Park, Wonders and the Order of Nature, 1150–1750 (New York, 1998), 273.


77Imperato, Historia natural, n.p.


78Paula Findlen, “Courting Nature,” in Cultures of Natural History, edited by Nicholas Jardine, James A. Secord, and Emma C. Spary, 57–74 (Cambridge, 1996), 60.


79Adalgisa Lugli, “Inquiry as Collection: The Athanasius Kircher Museum in Rome,” translated by David J. Verzoni, Jr., RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, 12 (1986), 109–124, 118.


80Eric Jorink notes the special appeal Egypt had for certain collectors, such as the Leuven-based Otto Heurnius (whose cabinet included “a stuffed crocodile”). Jorink, “Noah’s Ark,” 166.


81Druce, “Crocodile,” 315–316, 322.


82Jan C. Westerhoff, “A World of Signs: Baroque Pansemioticism, the Polyhistor, and the Early Modern Wunderkammer,” Journal of the History of Ideas, 62 (2001), 633–650, 640. The desire for a collection to become a microcosm seems to me the museological manifestation of the “encyclopedic ambitions” characterizing Renaissance intellectual life. Ann M. Blair, Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern Age (New Haven, 2010), 12.


83Findlen, “Inventing Nature,” 302.


84Felfe, “Collections,” 250. Findlen, Possessing Nature, 67.


85Jorink, “Noah’s Ark,” 158–160.


86Genesis 3:115.


87Peter Paul Rubens, Adam and Eve, Oil on canvas, 1628–1629, Museo Nacional del Prado, http://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/online-gallery/on-line-gallery/obra/adam-and-eve-1/ [accessed 19 May 2015]. 


88See, for example, the “Coccodrillus” included in British Library M.S. Harley 3244, reproduced in Druce, “Crocodile,” 313.


89Hieronymous Bosch, Last Judgment Triptych, Oil on panel, 1504–1508, Akademie der Bildenden Künste. Hugo van der Goes, The Fall of Adam, Oil on wood, 1470, Kunsthistorisches Museum. Beinecke MS 287.


90Revelation 12:9.


91Jean Bondol and Nicholas Bataille, Apocalypse Tapestry, Tapestry, 1377–1382, Musée de la Tapisserie, Château d’Angers.


92Druce, “Crocodile,” 313–314, 316. J.V. Kinnier Wilson, “A Return to the Problems of Behemoth and Leviathan,” Vetus Testamentum, 25 (1975), 1–14, 1–2.


93See, for example, the miniature illustrating the Last Judgment in the thirteenth-century English “Abingdon Apocalypse,” British Library Add. M.S. 42555, 77v., reproduced in James Freeman and Sarah J. Biggs, “Prepare to Meet Your Doom,” Medieval Manuscripts Blog, February 22, 2014, http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/digitisedmanuscripts/2014/02/pre pare-to-meet-your-doom.html [accessed 19 May 2015]. Druce, “Crocodile,” 311–313.


94Druce, “Crocodile,” 321, 324. For further discussion of the hydrus, see Ignacio Malaxecheverria, “L’Hydre et le Crocodile Médiévaux,” Romance Notes, 21 (1980), 376–380.


95“Les vieux auteurs insistent unanimement sur le symbolisme diabolique du grand saurien […] ‘Crocodile signifie diable en ceste vie’, nous dit par exemple Philippe de Thaun.” Jean-Loïc Le Quellec, “D’où vient le Crocodile d’Oiron?,” Sau An, 5 (1994), 57–59, 57.


96“British Library Add MS 38126: Book of Hours, Use of Rome (The ‘Huth Hours’),” Flanders, 1480. British Library Digitised Manuscripts, http://www.bl.uk/manuscripts/FullDisplay.aspx?ref=Add_MS_38126, 139v [accessed 19 May 2015].


97“Book of Hours for Rome Use (Victorines-d’Auxy Hours),” Bourges, ca. 1475–1480, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philip S. Collins Collection 1945–65–15, 126, 132, reproduced in Lippincott, “Dragons,” 7, 11.


98See “Vita di San Teodoro d’Amasea” and “San Teodoro a Venezia” on the website of the Centro Studi Teodoriani, http://www.centrostuditeodoriani.it/ [accessed 19 May 2015].


99Westerhoff, “World of Signs,” 634.


100See M. Boskovits, “Krokodil,” in Lexikon der christlichen Ikonographie, edited by Engelbert Kirschbaum, 659 (Rome, 1970), 659.


101Druce, “Crocodile,” 316.


102William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part Two, edited by Roger Warren, The Oxford Shakespeare (Oxford, 2003), 190–191.


103As Stephen Greenblatt notes, “wonder precedes recognition of good and evil.” Accordingly, the sinister valences could only enhance the appeal of the crocodile. Greenblatt, Marvelous Possessions, 24.


104Boucher, Encyclopedic Museums.


105Findlen, “Inventing Nature,” 302.


106Paula Findlen, “Scientific Spectacle in Baroque Rome: Athanasius Kircher and the Roman College Museum,” in Jesuit Science and the Republic of Letters, edited by Mordechai Feingold (Cambridge, 2007), 225–284, 245, 257. Findlen, Possessing Nature, 81–82, 84, 91.


107For an excellent survey of the crocodile in medieval religious art, see Druce, “Crocodile.”


108See Tripps, Halbertstädter Drachen.”


109See Appendix i for a list of extant crocodiles in Europe.


110Tripps, “Halbertstädter Drachen,” 84.


111Le Quellec, “Le Crocodile d’Oiron,” 57.


112“Il Coccodrillo,” Santa Maria delle Vergini, 2014, http://www.santamariadellevergini.org/il-coccodrillo [accessed 19 May 2015]. 


113Attilio Zanca, “The crocodile of Santuario of Saint Mary of Grazie,” Grazie’s Sanctuary, 2000, http://www.fermimn.gov.it/grazie/inglese/s4.html [accessed 19 May 2015]. 


114Worm, Museum Wormianum, n.p. Ceruti and Chiocco, Musaeum, n.p. Imperato, Historia natural, n.p.


115Guillermo Ayala Gallego, “El Dragón del Patriarca,” Universidad de Valencia, n.d., http://www.uv.es/~ayala/pga/Dragon.pdf, n.p [accessed 19 February 2014]. 


116“Un cocodrilo a la orilla del Sequillo,” El Día de Valladolid, January 22, 2014, http://www.eldiadevalladolid.com/noticia/Z1FBC8693–0931-DB7F-D98AA9080090EE89/20140122/cocodrilo/orilla/sequillo [accessed 19 May 2015]. Oliver Scharpf, “Il Coccodrillo Di Santa Maria Del Monte Sopra Varese,” Azione, April 2, 2012, 9. Ángel Gallego Rubio, “El lagarto de la iglesia de Santa María: entre la fábula y el exvoto,” La Voz de Rioseco, November 7, 2010, http://www.lavozderioseco.com/?p=1507 [accessed 19 May 2015]. Ángel del Pozo, ­“Reptiles de leyenda en las Iglesias,” El Norte de Castilla, March 3, 2006, h‑ttp://www.elnortedecastilla.es/pg060303/prensa/noticias/Vida/200603/03/VAL-VID-210.html [accessed 19 May 2015].


117Cabildo Catedral de Sevilla, “Catedral de Sevilla.” Maxime de Montrond, “Les crocodiles de l’Hôtel de ville de Nîmes,” Bibliothèque de l’École des Chartes, 14 (1853). 67. Le Quellec, “Le Crocodile d’Oiron,” 58.


118“Un cocodrilo.”


119“Origem do Crocodilo,” Santuário da Lapa, 2012, http://www.santuariodalapa.pt/index.php/entrada-site/origemcrocodilo [accessed 19 May 2015].


120, 18 volumes, (Saint-Gaudens, 1897), 12:50. Santa Maria delle Vergini, “Il Coccodrillo.”


121Zanca, “The Crocodile.” 


122Parrish, “Female Opossum,” 488.


123Findlen, “Courting Nature,” 60. Findlen, Possessing Nature, 201, 208. Lugli, “Inquiry as Collection,” 111–112.


124Daston and Park, Wonders, 167.


125Findlen, “Courting Nature,” 58–65.


126Imperato, Historia natural, n.p.


127Findlen, Possessing Nature, passim.


128Mueller, “Mathematical Wunderkammern,” 785. Findlen, Possessing Nature, 201.


129“As an encyclopedia and memory theater of all nature, art, and knowledge, the Kunstkammer represented a theater of the world, demonstrating the ruler’s mastery of nature.” Smith and Findlen, “Representations of Nature,” 5.


130Tripps, “Halbertstädter Drachen,” 84.


131“The Brno Dragon,” Brno, 2013, http://www.brno.cz/en/tourist-leisure/history/brno-tales/the-brno-dragon/ [accessed 19 May 2015].


132, 50.


133de Montrond, “Les crocodiles,” 67.


134Tripps, “Halberstädter Drachen,” 84.


135In the crypt of the cathedral at Metz, there is preserved a model of the “Graouilly,” a dragon supposed to have terrorized the region, which was used in processions. The hindquarters of the creature are quite crocodilian. Tripps, “Halbertstädter Drachen,” 85–86,


136Le Quellec, “Le Crocodile d’Oiron,” 57–59.


137Jean-Paul Clébert, Guide de La Provence Mystérieuse (Paris, 1998), 386.


138, 49.


139So far as I have been able to determine, the specimens in Halle are the only surviving Wunderkammer crocodiles. “Kinderkreativzentrum Krokoseum.”


140Tripps, “Halbertstädter Drachen,” 83. 


141Zanca, “Saint Mary of Grazie.”


142“Il coccodrillo,” Chiesa romanica di San Salvaro, 2014, http://www.sansalvaro.org/storia/il-coccodrillo/ [accessed 19 May 2015]. 


143Santa Maria delle Vergini, “Il Coccodrillo.”


144Tripps, “Halberstädter Drachen,” 83.


145“Storia,” Santurario Madonna delle lacrime, http://www.santuariopontenossa.it/index.php/storia [accessed 19 May 2015]


146Franca Loretta Norcini, Storie a veglia: Tradizioni, novelle e cose della Toscana di una volta (Florence, 1981), 36.


147“La chiesa dei coccodrilli,” Turismo Sicilia, http://www.turismo-sicilia.eu/chiesa-dei-coccodrilli.html [accessed 23 May 2015].


148Scharpf, “Il Coccodrillo,” 9.


149Scharpf, “Il Coccodrillo,” 9.


150Scharpf, “Il Coccodrillo,” 9.


151“Madonna della Campagna,” L’Arena di Verona, March 18, 1928.


152Santuário da Lapa, “Origem do Crocodilo.”


153“Un cocodrilo.”


154“Un cocodrilo.”


155“Un cocodrilo.”


156Gallego Rubio, “El lagarto.”


157“Un cocodrilo.”


158“Un cocodrilo.” Gallego Rubio, “El lagarto.”


159del Pozo, “Reptiles de leyenda.”


160“Un cocodrilo.”


161Cabildo Catedral de Sevilla, “Catedral de Sevilla.”


162Gallego Rubio, “El lagarto.”


163Gallego Rubio, “El lagarto.”


164“Un cocodrilo.” Ayala Gallego, “El Dragón,” n.p.


165Gallego Rubio, “El lagarto.”

  • 2

    William B. Ashworth, Jr., “Emblematic Natural History of the Renaissance,” in Cultures of Natural History, edited by Nicholas Jardine, James A. Secord, and Emma C. Spary, 17–37 (Cambridge, 1996), 36.

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  • 3

    Charlotte Sleigh, “Jan Swammerdam’s Frogs,” Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London, 66 (2012), 373–392, 388.

  • 4

    Simon Ditchfield, “Thinking with Saints: Sanctity and Society in the Early Modern World,” Critical Inquiry, 35 (2009), 552–584, 554.

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  • 5

    Ann Blair, “Mosaic Physics and the Search for a Pious Natural Philosophy in the Late Renaissance,” Isis, 91 (2000), 32–58, 33, 35.

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  • 8

    Wilma George, “Sources and Background to Discoveries of New Animals in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries,” History of Science, 18 (1980), 79–104, 101.

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  • 9

    Joan-Pau, Rubiés, “New Worlds and Renaissance Ethnology,” History and Anthropology, 6 (1993), 157–197, 159–161.

  • 10

    Susan Scott Parrish, “The Female Opossum and the Nature of the New World,” The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd series, 54 (1997), 475–514, 480. Rubiés, “New Worlds,” 161, 181.

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  • 11

    George, “New Animals,” 100.

  • 12

    Parrish, “Female Opossum,” 485.

  • 13

    George, “New Animals,” 101.

  • 14

    Parrish, “Female Opossum,” 485. While Parrish usefully highlights the familiarity of the Old World animals as the source of their “morphological normalcy,” it seems to me that it was equally the product of religious associations, to which I shall return farther on.

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  • 15

    Parrish, “Female Opossum,” 485.

  • 16

    Natalie Lawrence, “Assembling the Dodo in Early Modern Natural History,” The British Journal for the History of Science, FirstView article (2015), 1–22, 12.

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  • 17

    George C. Druce, “The Symbolism of the Crocodile in the Middle Ages,” The Archaeological Journal, 66 (1909), 311–338, 315–316.

  • 28

    Dampier, New Voyage, 74.

  • 31

    Dampier, New Voyage, 75.

  • 36

    Grafton, with Shelford and Siraisi, New Worlds, 6.

  • 37

    Eric Jorink, “Noah’s Ark Restored (and Wrecked): Dutch Collectors, Natural History and the Problem of Biblical Exegesis,” in Silent Messengers: The Circulation of Material Objects of Knowledge in the Early Modern Low Countries, edited by Sven Dupré and Christoph Lüthy (Münster, 2011), 153–182, 174–175.

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  • 38

    Lawrence, “Assembling the Dodo,” 12.

  • 41

    Smith and Findlen, “Representation of Nature,” 11.

  • 42

    Blair, “Mosaic Physics,” 34, 50. Jonathan Sheehan, “From Philology to Fossils: The Biblical Encyclopedia in Early Modern Europe,” Journal of the History of Ideas, 64 (2003), 41–60, 46, 60.

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  • 43

    Blair, “Mosaic Physics,” 34. For an excellent discussion of the role of religious knowledge in organizing natural knowledge, see Jorink, “Noah’s Ark.”

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  • 45

    Blair, “Mosaic Physics,” 33, 50.

  • 53

    Blair, “Mosaic Physics,” 49–50. Sheehan, “Philology to Fossils,” 42.

  • 57

    Grew, Musaeum Regalis Societatis, 41. Italics in the original.

  • 61

    Sheehan, “Philology to Fossils,” 46–47.

  • 62

    Sheehan, “Philology to Fossils,” 46. Italics mine.

  • 63

    Hutcheson, Exposition, 37. Writers of every faction in early-modern confessional and intellectual conflicts “took the Bible as the only fully valid account of the past,” including natural history. Grafton, with Shelford and Siraisi, New Worlds, 207. By contrast, Sheehan suggests that the confidence in biblical accuracy expressed by authors like Bochart was an attempt to stifle anxieties. Sheehan, “Philology to Fossils,” 46.

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  • 64

    Blair, “Mosaic Physics,” 50.

  • 65

    Hutcheson, Exposition, 37–38. Italics in the original.

  • 66

    Hasselquist, Voyages and Travels, 216. Pontoppidan, Natural History, 206.

  • 67

    Ibid., 440.

  • 68

    Blair, “Mosaic Physics,” 35.

  • 69

    Mason, Before Disenchantment, 60.

  • 74

    Paula Findlen, “Inventing Nature: Commerce, Art, and Science in the Early Modern Cabinet of Curiosities,” in Merchants and Marvels, edited by Pamela Smith and Paula Findlen, 297–323 (New York, 2002), 307, 312–313. Findlen, Possessing Nature, 17–21, 28.

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  • 75

    Louise W. Lippincott, “The Unnatural History of Dragons,” Philadelphia Museum of Art Bulletin, 77 (1981), 2–24, 3.

  • 78

    Paula Findlen, “Courting Nature,” in Cultures of Natural History, edited by Nicholas Jardine, James A. Secord, and Emma C. Spary, 57–74 (Cambridge, 1996), 60.

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  • 81

    Druce, “Crocodile,” 315–316, 322.

  • 83

    Findlen, “Inventing Nature,” 302.

  • 84

    Felfe, “Collections,” 250. Findlen, Possessing Nature, 67.

  • 85

    Jorink, “Noah’s Ark,” 158–160.

  • 92

    Druce, “Crocodile,” 313–314, 316. J.V. Kinnier Wilson, “A Return to the Problems of Behemoth and Leviathan,” Vetus Testamentum, 25 (1975), 1–14, 1–2.

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    • Export Citation
  • 94

    Druce, “Crocodile,” 321, 324. For further discussion of the hydrus, see Ignacio Malaxecheverria, “L’Hydre et le Crocodile Médiévaux,” Romance Notes, 21 (1980), 376–380.

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    • Export Citation
  • 99

    Westerhoff, “World of Signs,” 634.

  • 100

    See M. Boskovits, “Krokodil,” in Lexikon der christlichen Ikonographie, edited by Engelbert Kirschbaum, 659 (Rome, 1970), 659.

  • 101

    Druce, “Crocodile,” 316.

  • 105

    Findlen, “Inventing Nature,” 302.

  • 106

    Paula Findlen, “Scientific Spectacle in Baroque Rome: Athanasius Kircher and the Roman College Museum,” in Jesuit Science and the Republic of Letters, edited by Mordechai Feingold (Cambridge, 2007), 225–284, 245, 257. Findlen, Possessing Nature, 81–82, 84, 91.

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  • 110

    Tripps, “Halbertstädter Drachen,” 84.

  • 111

    Le Quellec, “Le Crocodile d’Oiron,” 57.

  • 113

    Attilio Zanca, “The crocodile of Santuario of Saint Mary of Grazie,” Grazie’s Sanctuary, 2000, http://www.fermimn.gov.it/grazie/inglese/s4.html [accessed 19 May 2015].

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  • 117

    Cabildo Catedral de Sevilla, “Catedral de Sevilla.” Maxime de Montrond, “Les crocodiles de l’Hôtel de ville de Nîmes,” Bibliothèque de l’École des Chartes, 14 (1853). 67. Le Quellec, “Le Crocodile d’Oiron,” 58.

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  • 122

    Parrish, “Female Opossum,” 488.

  • 123

    Findlen, “Courting Nature,” 60. Findlen, Possessing Nature, 201, 208. Lugli, “Inquiry as Collection,” 111–112.

  • 124

    Daston and Park, Wonders, 167.

  • 125

    Findlen, “Courting Nature,” 58–65.

  • 128

    Mueller, “Mathematical Wunderkammern,” 785. Findlen, Possessing Nature, 201.

  • 130

    Tripps, “Halbertstädter Drachen,” 84.

  • 133

    de Montrond, “Les crocodiles,” 67.

  • 134

    Tripps, “Halberstädter Drachen,” 84.

  • 136

    Le Quellec, “Le Crocodile d’Oiron,” 57–59.

  • 140

    Tripps, “Halbertstädter Drachen,” 83.

  • 144

    Tripps, “Halberstädter Drachen,” 83.

  • 148

    Scharpf, “Il Coccodrillo,” 9.

  • 149

    Scharpf, “Il Coccodrillo,” 9.

  • 150

    Scharpf, “Il Coccodrillo,” 9.

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