Tag: pestilence

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/



The Four Horsemen (pt. 1)

In the previous lecture, Prof. Stuart gave us an overview of the Black Death, and the concept of danse macabre.

Being the nerd that I am, my brain went immediately into thinking about a certain group of 4 jolly f(r)iends, who, in the SMT series, are depicted as skeletons.

Now I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals; and I heard one of the four living creatures saying with a voice like thunder, ‘Come and see.’ And I looked, and behold, a white horse. He who sat on it had a bow; and a crown was given to him, and he went out conquering and to conquer.
—Revelations 6:1-2
SMT’s White Rider is clearly meant to be Conquest, the first horseman of the apocalypse. Many people today know him as Pestilence, but that connotation is something that popped up later, perhaps as conquest became less of a deal in the more modern era.
While him being called “Pestilence” is more of a modern deal, it certainly feels as if it’s something that should tie into the Black Death, as the disease wiped out much of Europe’s population.

The Four Horsemen were mentioned in the Book of Revelations. Conquest’s white horse is usually said to represent one of two things: the conquest brought on via the spread of Christianity, or the Anti-Christ, who deceives all the pious and faithful Christians.

(Personally, I believe that the second meaning is something Christians made in order to feel better because of some of the first meaning’s connotations.)

Now, design-wise, White Rider himself resembles the typical Grim Reaper quite a lot. He’s got the full-body black cloak, and has a skeletal visage. The horse with eyes all over its body, though, is something I think is unique to SMT, and not typical of White Rider or any of the other 4 horsemen.

What I like about White Rider (and the other 3 riders, but they’ll get their time later) is his pose. In this piece of official art by Kazuma Kaneko, he appears to be staring into the distance, perhaps surveying the lands he has conquered, or those about to be conquered. Although his horse is galloping, he seems to be calm and collected, without a care for the mortal lives he has wreaked havoc on.