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Oil on Braced Baltic Birch 27” x 22” x 2”
In studying Greek mythology and Platonic philosophy, one quickly gathers that anthropocentrism colours the entire cosmogony. This is evident in marble statues, where sculptors strove to depict the idealized man. Later, Neoplatonic philosophy articulated and inserted the concept of the ‘Great Chain of Being’ into western thought. In this schematic, animals are relegated to the bottom of the proverbial totem pole, void of intrinsic value due to their lack of a rational mind.
Following the pattern of my Streams in the Wasteland series, of human civilizations crumbling and being taken over by wild animals, The Republic depicts a pretentious Sandhill Crane posing on the pedestal of the supreme Greek god, Zeus. I wanted to reframe the “abomination of desolation” in which the Hellenistic king, Antiochus IV, set up a pagan altar to sacrifice swine in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem [i]. Conversely, the beautiful bird in my painting is presented as a skandalon to the Greco-Roman Temple.
While the Greco-Roman Empire achieved incomparable domination throughout Europe, ironically a small group of 1st century Jews following a man they believed to be their prophesied Messiah, Yeshua, would spark a revolution. This movement captured the imaginations of men and women who had unmet expectations in humanly-flawed gods [ii] and esoteric Platonic Ideals [iii].
[i] 167-164 BC
[ii] There was widespread apathy toward the Greek/Roman gods in the 1st century, as a result of the skepticism cast by Aristotle.
[iii] Some of the earliest Christian converts were Greek philosophers, like Justin Martyr and Clement of Alexandria.
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