#207.14

The San Andrés del Arroyo Beatus map, 1248, Bibliotheque Nationale Paris


The map in the San Andres de Arroyo Beatus, which was made c.1248, is circular as opposed to the rounded rectangles of the Girona and Manchester maps. It is artistically more sophisticated than the two other maps, with many images of cities, and the mountains are imaginatively depicted as piles of rocks; and it has a dramatic color palette different from those of the other Beatus maps: the earth is burgundy, and there are stripes of white in the water. Many of the sea creatures are elongated fish or sea serpents, but there are some sea monsters. There are two sirens, one in the southeast, and the other in the northeast. Both are beside ships, and given the dancing gesture they make with their hands, we are no doubt to understand that they are singing seductive songs to the sailors on the ships, as the sirens did to Odysseus in the Odyssey—and as sirens are said to do in medieval bestiaries.













A siren beside a ship in the southern ocean in the San Andres de Arroyo Beatus,

c. 1248; the siren’s dancing gesture indicates that she is singing to the sailors on the ship.


In the western ocean on the Arroyo Beatus there is an underwater human figure who is wrestling with two sea serpents, and this is a personification of the ocean—something that appears on no other Beatus map. There is also an octopus, a starfish, and a large lizard- like creature, perhaps a draco marinus or sea-dragon. The location of the starfish on the San Andres de Arroyo map accords with that ascribed to the creature by Thomas of Cantimpre, On the Nature of Things (De natura rerum) 7.73, and Albertus Magnus, On Animals (De animalibus) 24.52, who say that it lives in the western ocean; the map was made in the 13th century, after 1248, and thus after Thomas had finished his work (by 1240), and possibly after Albertus finished his (before 1256 or so). The starfish in the western ocean almost certainly represents the influence of Thomas of Cantimpre, particularly as its smiling face resembles that in at least two illustrated manuscripts of Thomas’ work, a mid 14th century manuscript in Prague, and an early 15th century manuscript in Granada. This is a striking case of an encyclopedic work influencing a mappamundi shortly after the work was compiled. In addition, the differences between the sea monsters on this map show very clearly that the artist felt free to innovate, and did not feel bound to copy the monsters that he found in the Beatus manuscript that he was using as a model.




An aquatic dragon, a personification of Ocean wrestling with two sea serpents, and a starfish in the western ocean on the San Andres de Arroyo Beatus, c. 1248