The concept of the papal Antichrist evolved throughout the Middle Ages, developing multiple layers of meaning and distinctive modes of rhetorical expression. It reached its most elaborate late medieval form in the Hussite treatise known as Anatomy of the Antichrist. This work provides a comprehensive summary of antipapal Antichristology using nominal tropes, anatomical metaphors, and antithetical contrasts between the idealized primitive church and the fifteenth-century Roman church. Philip Melanchthon’s polemical The Pope-Ass Explained (1523) reveals close parallels to the content of Anatomy of the Antichrist. These similarities demonstrate that the authors of both works shared a common vocabulary and tropological understanding of the figure of the papal Antichrist.
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