Dana Katz

Andrew W. Mellon Undergraduate Fellow in the Humanities

20042005 Forum on Sleep and Dreams

Dana Katz

Art History

College '05

Jacob's Dream in Northern Sicily

Jacob’s Dream plays an important role in the Biblical tradition as the event in which the patriarch is divinely selected as the father of the Chosen People of Israel. This Old Testament scene appears in two narrative cycles of mosaics set by Byzantine artisans in the twelfth century Cappella Palatina and the Cathedral of Monreale in Sicily. This island has a mixture of artistic traditions reflected in the remaining art and architecture as Sicily was colonized successively by the Greeks, Romans, Arabs, and Normans. This multi-ethnic society was reflected in the court of the Norman ruler Roger II in which Arabic, Latin, and Greek were spoken and the three monotheistic religions of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity were practiced. Dreams play an important part in the narrative of these three faiths and in the legitimization of the chosen leader of the people in its texts. Roger II was a descendent of the Normans who conquered Sicily with papal support in the late eleventh century, built his royal palace with the adjacent Cappella Palatina soon after his coronation in 1130, which was contested, by Pope Innocent II and the Holy Roman Emperor. By incorporating scenes such as Jacob’s dream from the Old Testament in the mosaic cycles of his private chapel, Roger II was attempting to legitimize his kingship. By examining these narrative cycles with a focus on Jacob’s dream, I will attempt to assess the appropriation of the symbolism of dreams by the Norman kings of Sicily