The J. Paul Getty Museum

Initial D: The Fall of Simon Magus

Object Details

Title:

Initial D: The Fall of Simon Magus

Artist/Maker:

Unknown

Culture:

German

Place:

Hildesheim, Germany (Place Created)

Date:

probably 1170s

Medium:

Tempera colors, gold leaf, silver leaf, and ink on parchment

Object Number:

Ms. 64 (97.MG.21), fol. 138v

Dimensions:

Leaf: 28.2 × 18.9 cm (11 1/8 × 7 7/16 in.)

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Object Description

The story of the magician Simon Magus occupies the initial D that heads the Mass for Saints Peter and Paul. Borne aloft by two demons, Simon Magus hovers above the city of Rome while Saints Peter and Paul pray below. As described in the New Testament, Simon attempted to rival the powers of Jesus' apostles only to fall to his death. Because of this, he was considered the archetypal heretic.