Albrecht Dürer’s Horsemen of the Apocalypse

I found this image while looking at the Adam and Eve one, and thought I’d post it here, as I’ve already written about the Four Horsemen. *Of course, since this blog is arranged chronologically, you’ll have to scroll down to find them. Thankfully, I’ve tagged every single post I’ve made, so you’ll be able to find them (and the Whore of Babylon) by clicking on the “book of revelations” tag.

The image depicts the titular squad riding during the apocalypse, as the title suggests. An angel watches over them, so the viewer can infer that the woodcut print depicts Judgement Day. From right to left, I can guess that the horsemen are Conquest, War, Famine, and, lastly, Death. I first mistook Death for Famine, but the rider in the middle holds the scales, not the one on the bottom. Therefore, I have to presume that the bottom-left rider is Death.

The person in the most bottom-left corner, who appears to be being eaten by a demon of some sort, is wearing a fancy Pope hat. In the bottom-right corner, I can just barely make out a monk’s tonsure, nearly hidden by a man’s leg. The other people are dressed simply, so they’re probably commoners. The people at the bottom of the image remind me of some of Hans Holbein’s Danse Macabre prints — no matter your status (pope, commoner or clergy), you will die during Judgement Day all the same. For those same reasons, the image also serves as an example of memento mori. Remember, that no matter how many holy deeds you preformed or how high your status in society, that you will die.

Posting two Dürer images near-simultaneously seems like shameless pandering to me, but I think this is fine, as our dear professor does this all the time, anyway.

Image source: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/19.73.209/

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Lucifer sketch

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A sketch of Lucifer that I had drawn and posted onto the class’ Facebook page. I didn’t mention it on there, but this depiction of Lucifer is based off of Kaneko’s Lucifer, which appears in SMT.

The image was drawn in my sketchbook, which is 8 x 11.5 inches – the same size as standard copy paper.

Our professor loves to blame everything that goes wrong in this class on Satan. Clicker out of battery? Must be the work of Satan. Can’t get the video to play? Must be because of Satan. Personally, I think she’s a little too hard on Satan. After all, it might be divine punishment, not the devil’s meddling.

While I joke about this sort of thing (and I do hope the professor is joking as well), this was reality for medieval people. They truly believed that the supernatural was intertwined with their daily lives, as they didn’t have any scientific explanations for phenomena. Thus, for example, if your children got sick and died, it wasn’t due to lack of hygiene or bad nutrition. It was either God’s punishment or the influence of demons. In this way, our society’s sarcastic phrase “thanks Satan” is something that’s stayed with us for centuries.

Kathy Stuart and Louis XIV

In Tuesday’s lecture, we learned about Louis XIV and his pompous habits.

One of the things he did that struck a chord with me was how he insisted on teaching people how to do their own jobs. He believed himself to be better at everything than anyone else, even when he clearly had no idea what he was doing. He was also very prideful, and loved flattery the most, especially when people tripped over their words while flattering him. In addition to being prideful, he associated himself with Apollo, who was the Greek god of the sun. Due to this obsession, he became known as the “Sun King”. One would think that associating oneself with a “heathen” god would be considered heretical, but, I think, people were too afraid of Louis XIV to point that out.

Normally, people would get mad at someone butting in and telling them how to do their job. However, this was the king. People couldn’t get mad at their own king – just imagine the consequences of speaking out against an all-powerful monarch! Surely any craftsman who spoke out against the king, especially one with such a high opinion of himself, would be killed!


Something that happened in today’s (Thursday’s) lecture reminded me of Louis XIV. Professor Stuart asked the class if any STEM majors were present, and then asked them to explain the scientific method.  This wouldn’t be a problem… if this class was a basic science class and that was asked as a review question. Now that was a problem. This class is neither a science class nor was that question relevant as review material for an exam or anything else for this course. I know that she intended to tie it into the lecture, but I feel it just caused more distraction. For one, it didn’t tie into lecture very well. For two, nobody really answered, both on Facebook and in lecture.

Of course, not many people raised their hands and admitted to being a STEM major. After all, not many people would want to answer something that embarrassing and then explain it to everyone in the class, who had all learned it in middle school. *This was something a STEM student admitted during lecture.

In the end, Lawrence, who seems to know more about this course than our professor, ended up speaking up for everyone, who were all too nervous or didn’t care enough to speak. The professor then clumsily attempted to apply the basic concepts of the scientific method (as Lawrence so carefully stated for her) to the class.

Image source: our class’ facebook page

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The Four Horsemen (pt. 4)

The Columbian Exchange was great for the Europeans – they received new, nutritient-dense foods, new land, and new people to enslave and abuse.

It wasn’t so great for the Native Americans, who were killed off by the Europeans. They were killed off by a triad of things: squalid working conditions in enslavement, fighting against the Europeans (who had superior war technology), and, most of all, disease.

The native population of the Americas, prior to 1492, is usually estimated to have been around 50 million people. After European influence (around 1650), the native population had been reduced to less than 6 million. Such a high fatality rate leads into our long-awaited final horseman of the Apocalypse: Death.


When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.

— Revelation 6:7-8

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After war, after pestilence, after famine, comes death. Thus, I feel it’s only natural to write about Death after having already covered the other 3. Of course, to the reader (Mark?), this will be the first post of the four, as my blog is organized chronologically, with the most recent post at the top.

As always, the traditional Grim Reaper motif is prominent in this design, with the reaping scythe making him the most “authentic” reaper of the 4. In the Book of Revelation, Death and his horse are described as being “pale”. No particular color is attributed to them – in Kaneko’s art here, he decided to make the horse a pale gray, while Death himself has the reaper’s signature skull-face and cloak, matching the other Horsemen in the set. Anyways, Death being described as “pale” is probably due to how the “deathly pallor” that sets in postmortem due to lack of blood circulation.

Kaneko’s Death has a very serious pose. He sits tall and imposing and faces forward, as if slowly approaching the viewer. After all, death is something that affects us all. No matter what we do, we’ll all end up dying someday, which is what the phrase “momento mori” suggests. In his hands, Death holds a reaping scythe. This is significant, as he is the harvester of souls. Thus, a farming scythe, as he is depicted with, is much more of a suitable symbol for him than a war scythe, which is mounted on the pole such that the blade points up, like a spear.

Honestly, I don’t have much more to say here. Let’s enjoy this moment of death, shall we?

On Protestantism

Luther’s version of Protestantism claimed that people would receive salvation based on scripture, grace and faith alone. This went directly against the Catholic Church’s many rituals and selling of indulgences, which Luther was vehemently against.

He also believed that Purgatory was a concept contrived by the Catholic Church in order to get people to buy indulgences. Indulgences from the Pope or the Church’s many branches would shorten a person’s time in Purgatory, so they’d be able to get to Heaven faster instead of suffering for, say, 10,000 years before moving on.

Also, both Protestants and Calvinists believed in the concept of predestination, which means that God chose who goes to Heaven and who goes to Hell from birth. To me, this seems lazy, as it looks as if people would be able to do whatever they wanted and still end up in Heaven.

Personally, I strongly dislike Luther’s view on religion. Relying on faith and scripture alone just seems lazy to me. The Bible is a book already filled with plotholes and contradictions. Referencing it word for word just seems like a recipe for disaster to me. Also, people like events. They want days where they can eat together, or even just meet up. Thus, Catholicism’s many rituals sate the masses and give them something to do. In addition, it takes money to run an organization. Even non-profit organizations need to get funding from somewhere, which is usually out of pocket, from the government, or from donations. Thus, selling indulgences, to me, seems like a rational choice for the Catholic Church.

I mentioned above that the Bible is full of plotholes. This alone is bad enough, but Luther was not a logical man. Even Prof. Stuart, who seems to adore Luther, admits that he contradicted himself on many occasions. Later, Calvin would do his best to fix these contradictions (leading to the Calvinist branch of Protestantism), but I still don’t agree with their sect’s ideals.

Calvin’s crusade resulted in iconoclasm: the destruction of holy icons. In addition, Calvinist churches were blank. All of the fancy stained-glass windows? The beautiful paintings and other works of art? Broken. Burned. As a designer, it’s emotionally painful that people destroyed such weighted art. But my feelings are beside the point here.

People need stimulation if they’re going to be interested in anything for an extended period of time. Blank churches with no imagery whatsoever are the complete opposite of what people would find interesting. Burning and throwing away all “indulgent” items (as Luther wanted) leaves people plain and lowly, which is exactly what Luther wanted. However, I don’t believe that people can stay that way for long. People will seek out their pleasures elsewhere.

These reasons are why Protestantism, especially as how it was presented in lecture, doesn’t sit well with me.

“Monstrous Birth” and SMT

A while back, Professor Stuart showed two images depicting a “monstrous birth”. Both were from pamphlets made by Luther and his friend Melanchthon, made possible by Gutenberg’s printing press.

*Contrary to popular belief, Gutenberg was NOT the inventor of the printing press. Movable metal type was first invented in China and Korea, and had existed in Asia for hundreds of years before Gutenberg’s printing press even existed. However, Gutenberg’s version of the printing press made reading material easily (and cheaply) available to European peasants.

Image source: http://www.lib.cam.ac.uk/exhibitions/Babies/extraordinary.html

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One of these images, the one depicting “The Pope-ass in Rome” (1523), caught my interest. The Pope-ass was a very influential Protestant pamphlet, as it depicted a monstrous being that was supposedly found dead in the Tiber River in 1496. Said creature was said to represent how corrupt the Roman papacy was. Now, since the pamphlet was made nearly 30 years after the creature’s corpse was sighted, I’m going to ignore its further religious significance. After all, being propaganda made by Martin Luther, it’s undoubtedly severely biased towards demonizing the Catholic Church and the Pope.


As Prof. Stuart said in the first lecture, demons are corrupt and otherworldly-looking because they incorporate parts from both sexes and different animal parts.

This is apparent in Melanchthon’s flyer, which shows a creature with a donkey’s head, human breasts, one human hand, two hooves (one as a hand and one as a foot), one bird’s foot, a tail with a humanoid and an avian demon’s face, and scales all over its body. While this drawing was no doubt shocking to the masses (uneducated peasants whose lives were dictated by religion and the supernatural) in the 15oo’s, I personally would say that it doesn’t look too bad for a demon. Aside from the oddly spread-out breasts, I’d say it is a rather handsome demon, as it still maintains a basically human shape, as opposed to say, Nyarlathotep’s “Moon Howler” form (or, God forbid, Azathoth).

The creature’s features remind me of how two demons that appear in SMT: the ever-populat Baphomet, and Adramelech, who I had mentioned before on Facebook.


Adramelech in SMT, drawn by Masayuki Doi (NOT Kazuma Kaneko!)

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Adramelech is one of the few post-Kaneko demons, and is drawn by Doi instead of Kaneko. That’s not to say he’s a bad demon — Adramelech ended up being one of my favorites!

Now, design-wise, Adramelech has bird’s feet (like the creature), a donkey’s head (like the creature), human hands (like the creature), a human torso (Adramelech is male, while the creature, I assume, had a female torso), a peacock’s tail, and vibrant makeup! These elements, when combined, result in an uncanny effect created out of familiar objects put together where they shouldn’t be. This is what gives demons their otherworldly charm, after all! While Adramelech is clearly a lot more dolled-up than Melanchthon’s… thing (I mean, just look at his matching pedicured and manicured nails! And that lipstick! That eye makeup! Those gold pieces!) they still follow the same base concept: mashing together human and animal features to make something that’ll creep out most people.


Baphomet in SMT (by Kazuma Kaneko)

Baphomet

Baphomet’s an older demon than Adramelech, so he isn’t quite as fancy. He was very important to witches, and was worshipped by them. In this sense, I guess he can be seen as somewhat of an anomaly amongst demons, as he was legitimately worshipped by people instead of used as a deterrant to prevent people from sinning. I believe he was also worshipped by Knight Templars at some point, but am honestly too lazy to go and check.

Now, Baphomet has an impressive pair of ram horns above a goat’s head, leering red eyes, wings, a human torso (it’s hard to see, but he has breasts, as the creature does), human hands, and human-goat legs (they don’t appear to be digitigrade, but his feet still end in hooves). The ornament on his head is burning, a detail put in by Kaneko that’s missing in traditional depictions of Baphomet. On his crotch, partially obscured by a modest loincloth, is a caduceus, an object that is included in traditional depictions of Baphomet. I won’t doubt that the caduceus is meant to be phallic. The placement of that object, combined with his breasts results in an unsettling effect, as he combines both female and male parts along with parts from different animals.

Before I ramble on in purgatory for the next 10,000 years, I’ll end this post here.

But… if we consider this class to be an example of Protestantism, with Prof. Stuart at its helm, is there even Purgatory? I guess I’d end up in Hell for being a heretic, then.

Honestly, I wouldn’t mind that much. I like demons, and I’m used to hot weather.