The Second Epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians alludes to a mysterious subject, fated to fight against the imminent ire of the son of perdition. In the 8th century, Paul's announcement was taken in the East to refer to the most powerful and last "king of Greeks and Romans". Later, in the West, new messianic personalities characterized the prophetic expectation in other terms: the "king of Franks", the angelic shepherd, the second Charlemagne and, finally, the people of the cities. The book describes the more familiar medieval prophesies, apocalypses and sibyls: dark, symbolic texts that were used as tools for sophisticated political-religious propaganda. Insofar as they projected contemporary power struggles onto the end of time, such texts strongly reflect, through their symbolic language, the age's notions of sovereignty.
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Gian Luca Potest teaches History of Christianity at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan.