Page:The Normans in European History.djvu/258

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with golden tigers and camels and Arabic invocations to the Christian Redeemer, which are still preserved among the treasures of the Holy Roman Empire at Vienna. And when, on festivals, he entered the palace chapel, Latin in its ground-plan, Greek and Arabic in its ornamentation, the atmosphere was likewise Oriental. As described at its dedication in 1140, with the starry heavens of its ceiling and the flowery meadows of its pavement, the chapel preserves its fundamental features to-day. Dome and choir are dominated by great Byzantine figures of Christ, accompanied by Byzantine saints and scenes with Greek inscriptions, all executed with the fullest brilliancy of which mosaics are capable, while the stalactite ceiling, "dripping with all the elaborate richness of Saracen art," seems "to re-create some forgotten vision of the Arabian Nights." Harmonious in design yet infinitely varied in detail, rich beyond belief in color and in line, reflecting alike the dim rays of its pendent lamps or the full light of the southern sun, the Cappella Palatina is the fullest and most adequate expression of the many-sided art of the Norman kingdom and the unifying force of the Norman kings.

Brilliant but ephemeral, precocious but lacking in permanent results—such are the judgments commonly passed upon the Sicilian kingdom and its civilization. At best the kingdom seems to reach no farther