History : Nov-Dec 2018
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC HISTORY 1 FROM THE EDITOR Amy Briggs, Executive Editor The Sistine Chapel ceiling can feel overwhelming. Myriad figures and colors compete for your attention, pulling your eye from one dramatic moment to the next. God creates the sun and the planets; the first man receives the spark of life; Adam and Eve are cast out of Eden; and terrified people flee the Flood. It’s dizzying to try to take in all the action. Calmer moments are found in the 12 portraits surrounding these iconic scenes. Seven of them are biblical prophets, and the rest are sibyls, five women from the classical world who could see the future. The beautiful Delphic Sibyl graces our cover, and the elegant Libyan Sibyl perches above. Their presence on the Sistine ceiling not only provides moments of respite, it also reveals the respect that Michelangelo and his contemporaries felt for the past. Surrounded by Christian art, the sibyls are a quiet nod to Renaissance humanism, the deep reverence for the scholarship, art, and values of ancient Greece and Rome. To drive the arts and sciences forward in their own time, Renaissance scholars cast their gazes back and drew upon the greatness that came before them.