Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online

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Life stairs
(938 words)

In ancient and medieval thought, there were many different ways of seeing the human lifespan (Curriculum vitae) and assessing its individual phases. From the 13th century on, a figure of thought came to the fore that interpreted the life cycle as an ascending and descending movement. The culmination, at which individuals come closest to the peak of perfection, is therefore reached in the middle of life. In 1540 Jörg Breu the Younger and Cornelis Anthonisz in Amsterdam brought out woodcuts [3. 26]; [2. 19] that visualized this concept in the form of a double set of steps: four…

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Ehmer, Josef, “Life stairs”, in: Encyclopedia of Early Modern History Online, Editors of the English edition: Graeme Dunphy, Andrew Gow. Original German Edition: Enzyklopädie der Neuzeit. Im Auftrag des Kulturwissenschaftlichen Instituts (Essen) und in Verbindung mit den Fachherausgebern herausgegeben von Friedrich Jaeger. Copyright © J.B. Metzlersche Verlagsbuchhandlung und Carl Ernst Poeschel Verlag GmbH 2005–2012. Consulted online on 18 November 2019 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2352-0272_emho_SIM_016765>
First published online: 2015
First print edition: 20190801



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