By Stuart Kallen
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7 With a symbolic meaning steeped in beauty, wisdom, and goodness, it is not surprising Christian artists adopted classical Greek wings for their angel paintings. And the feathered appendages have several practical purposes beyond symbolism. They give angels a supernatural appearance while providing a way for them to fly around Earth and to and from heaven. And wings are an easy way for viewers to distinguish between angels and humans in paintings. The gender of angels also began to change during the Renaissance.
The Greeks portrayed Nike, the goddess of victory, with two wings attached to the middle of her back. : “The wing is the corporeal [physical] element which is most akin to the divine, and which by nature tends to soar aloft and carry that which gravitates downwards into the upper region, which is the habitation of the gods. ”7 With a symbolic meaning steeped in beauty, wisdom, and goodness, it is not surprising Christian artists adopted classical Greek wings for their angel paintings. And the feathered appendages have several practical purposes beyond symbolism.
5 The interest in angel behavior coincided with a growing interest in science and learning. Religious scholars were redefining biblical knowledge using recently developed ideas about geography and mathematics. This allowed them to map out heaven and hell and apply precise ranks and numbers to the angelic choirs. The Angelic Doctor Italian priest Thomas Aquinas was one of the leading scholars of angelology. His work on the subject was so important that 50 years after his death in 1274 he was canonized as a saint.