Tag: war

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. 2)

In prof. Stuart’s Jan. 31st lecture, we learned a little about Milan, an aggressive and expansionist state.

Their goal was to expand their territory by conquering the nearby, weaker Italian states that surrounded them. With the amount of military strength they had, they must’ve believed this would be easy.

To achieve that goal, they hired mercenary soldiers. However, mercenary soldiers aren’t always loyal to their contractors…

The most prominent mercenary they hired was Francesco Sforza, who, in the battle against Milan and Venice, betrayed Milan to fight for Venice. After siding with Venice, his forces took over Milan, ruling over them and creating the Sforza dynasty.

In hindsight, Sforza’s betrayal is quite Machiavellian, and exactly the reason why Machiavelli himself, in his work, The Prince, urged princes to not rely on mercenaries. After all, mercenaries, according to Machiavelli, only care about the amount they get paid, and aren’t loyal to anyone other than themselves.

“When He broke the second seal, I heard the second living creature saying, “Come.” And another, a red horse, went out; and to him who sat on it, it was granted to take peace from the earth, and that men would slay one another; and a great sword was given to him.”

— Revelations 6:3-4


War is certainly one of the more “popular” horsemen, and tends to get more time in the limelight than Conquest. Since I’m sure most of the people in this class know what the 4 Horsemen are about already, I’ll just go on about some things about his design.

To start with, his pose is very fitting. Even while dressed in traditional Grim Reaper robes, you can tell that he’s sitting tall and proud on his horse, which is rearing up on its hind legs. To me, it looks as if he’s either doing a victory pose or declaring war on the world. The raised-up sword adds to this, giving his art some extra height and a shiny object that can become the center of attention. Another thing I like is the sinister appearance his hood gives him. Unlike Conquest, who shows most of his skeletal face, War’s face is mostly hidden, making him look more dastardly.

Yet, War isn’t in the midst of action in this art. His depicition in SMT is quite calm — sure, he’s the one who’s going to take all peace away from the Earth, but that doesn’t mean he has to be perpetually angry and irrational.