oa Fundamina : A Journal of Legal History - "A curious incident involving a dog" : the legal-historical significance of dog images in Medieval and Renaissance medical illustrations

Volume 16, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1021-545X
  • E-ISSN: 2411-7870



This article explores the curious presence of dogs in medieval and Renaissance medical illustrations by considering the practice of medicine, the role of medical illustrations, the prosecution of animals, as well as the general symbolism of dogs in art during these times. Apart from early translated medieval medical texts containing mainly rudimentary medical images, other images accompanying medical texts seldom served an instructional medical purpose and were often nothing more than a marginal gloss or conveyed a metaphorical, religious or moral message. The article reveals a relationship between dogs and healing, as well as between dogs and justice. Dogs also appeared as symbols of death and the afterlife. Their association with death and the afterlife, for example, may have compelled illustrators to include them in medical illustrations during times when life was fragile and recovery something that depended on external forces.

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