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The Zodiacal Sign of Sagittarius

The images attached to a number of astrological signs in the Middle Ages are confused or debased interpretations of the zodiac in classical tradition. The ancients invariably represented Sagittarius, the Archer, as a centaur, a mythological creature with the head and torso of a man and the four legs of a horse. Here, the archer draws a bow, as in ancient representations. The hat he wears is a medieval embellishment and he is shown with the body of a goat rather than a horse. (The sign for Capricorn on the December calendar page shows the head and horns of a goat emerging from a whorled shell like a snail’s. The head of the Capricorn on the December calendar page of the Belles Heures could easily be fitted to the body of the goat-centaur on the November page.)

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