Digital Text

Animal Symbolism in Ecclesiastical Architecture

Edited by E. P. Evans

W. Heinemann, London, 1896

Available Text Formats

Full edition (4544 KB file)

About this Text

This text is a wide-ranging study of animal symbolism that does not confine itself to church architecture. The book mostly focuses on the Middle Ages, with some content relating to Antiquity and the Renaissance. The Physiologus is examined extensively, other sources less so. Despite the the terms "ecclesiastical architecture" in the book's title, the main focus is on Christian symbology in its various forms, not just that of animals or that represented in architecture. The author also discusses the use of animal images in satire, as, for example, in the fox depicted as a corrupt cleric. While Evans often shows an all too common nineteenth century scorn for the "unscientific" writers of the Middle Ages, and regularly wanders far from his stated topic, this does not greatly detract from the usefulness of the work.

E. P. (Edward Payson) Evans was "a member of that extinct Victorian species whose scholarly interests were seemingly encyclopedic and which, in his case, encompassed intellectual history, the study of languages, German literature, oriental studies, animal psychology and, surprisingly, animal rights." He was a professor at the University of Michigan and later at the University of Munich. He is also the author of The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals.


The print edition of this text was published in London in 1896; the digital edition was created from the original in 2003 by David Badke. The original print edition by E. P. Evans (1831-1917) is believed to be in the public domain.