An Image of Plague by Giovanni Sercambi

Giovanni Sercambi (1348-1424) was an apothecary in the town of Lucca, about sixty kilometers to the west of Florence. He was Lucca's best known author in the fourteenth century. In addition to a collection of stories patterned on Boccaccio's Decameron and a commentary on a portion of Dante's Divine Comedy, he wrote a Chronicle of the history of Lucca in which he included ink sketches of important events. The image of plague in Lucca was probably only composed in about 1400 when Sercambi finished the fine copy of the chronicle on which he had been working since 1368. Arrows were a typical image for plague since like the plague they seem to bypass some and strike others. The addition of an Angel of death pouring out corruption over the dead and dying is, however, an unusual way to represent the general miasma that seemed typical of plague. Chroniclers and medical authorities did discuss the question of how plague spread and in what sense it seemed to be caused by a general corruption of the air or soil.

Last Modified: Friday, 28-Oct-1994 16:21:03 EDT