3 Emblems Within a Crown

“Power * Legitimacy * Victory

The Norman conqueror William I wore his crown three times each year: at Winchester at Easter, Westminster at Whitsuntide and at midwinter at Gloucester. But, as Shakespeare tells us, ‘uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.’ For the crown stands for the three emblems of power, legitimacy, and victory, but also for an ordained blood sacrifice as epitomized by the crown of thorns.

As an icon of power the crown has numerous lines of descent: the double crowns worn by the pharaohs of Egypt, the laurel wreaths of victory awarded to Greek heroes (and turned into the finest gold for Greek kings), the jewel-studded diadem worn on the brow by Persian and Hellenistic monarchs. The truest line of descent for the Western crown seems to have been the Greek radiant crown—Lucian’schaplet with sunbeams’—which was placed on statues of the sun god and which Constantine the Great co-opted in his fusing of the cult of the unconquered sun to the newly formed symbolism of a Christian emperor.”

Excerpted from: Rogerson, Barnaby. Rogerson’s Book of Numbers: The Culture of Numbers–from 1,001 Nights to the Seven Wonders of the World. New York: Picador, 2013.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.