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Chapter III.—Of his Picture surmounted by a Cross and having beneath it a Dragon.

And besides this, he caused to be painted on a lofty tablet, and set up in the front of the portico of his palace, so as to be visible to all, a representation of the salutary sign placed above his head, and below it that hateful and savage adversary of mankind, who by means of the tyranny of the ungodly had wasted the Church of God, falling headlong, under the form of a dragon, to the abyss of destruction. For the sacred oracles in the books of God’s prophets have described him as a dragon and a crooked serpent;32303230    Especially the book of Revelation, and Isaiah as quoted below. and for this reason the emperor thus publicly displayed a painted32313231    [Literally, by encaustic painting. See Bk. 1, ch. 3, note.—Bag.] resemblance of the dragon beneath his own and his children’s feet, stricken through with a dart, and cast headlong into the depths of the sea.

In this manner he intended to represent the secret adversary of the human race, and to indicate that he was consigned to the gulf of perdition by virtue of the salutary trophy placed above his head. This allegory, then, was thus conveyed by means of the colors of a picture: and I am filled with wonder at the intellectual greatness of the emperor, who as if by divine inspiration thus expressed what the prophets had foretold concerning this monster, saying that “God would bring his great and strong and terrible sword against the dragon, the flying serpent; and would destroy the dragon that was in the sea.”32323232    Isa. xxvii. 1. This is not taken from the Septuagint translation, as it corresponds with the Hebrew against the LXX. It differs in the word used for “terrible,” and none of the editions (or at least not the Vatican, Holmes and Parsons, Van Ess, or Tischendorf) and none of the mss. cited by Holmes and Parsons, have the phrase “in the sea” as the Hebrew. Grabe has this latter as various reading (ed. Bagster, 16º, p. 74), but there is hardly a possibility that it is the true reading. This it was of which the emperor gave a true and faithful representation in the picture above described.

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