Historical Art

Brueghel – Tower of Babel (1563)

In the Biblical story of Genesis, Cain slew Abel and was banished. Cain then supposedly founded civilization and cities. Greek and Mesopotamian cultures valued cities as wonderful works of man, but the writers of the Bible took a different view. The Tower of Babel was seen as an attempt by mankind to become more godlike, so the good Lord came down to earth and caused people to speak different languages, so they became confused and scattered about the world. But alas, civilization flourished. We are city-folk. Most wrestling champs come from cities, but never underestimate a hulk that steps on the mat with runners and no singlet. Could be a Hercules in disguise. Pin him fast.

Tower of Babel (1563)

Jacques Louis David – Oath of the Horatti Brothers (1784)

This is a historical piece that relates to the early growth of Rome. Rather than having two armies clash, which would result in the death of hundreds of people, the generals decided that the battle would be determined by three brothers from Rome fighting three brothers from the opposing side. Two of the Romans were killed, but finally the third Roman got smart. He ran away until the enemy brothers spread out while chasing him. He then stopped and killed them all one at a time. The painting depicts the father’s final speech to his sons before the battle. Note the three weeping sisters. They were married to the three enemy brothers, so they knew they would lose either a brother or a husband. Guess how a coach feels when he has two wrestlers in the same match? He wants them both to win but in every bout there supposedly can be only one winner. But in reality there are two winners. Both athletes improve and are better off for the experience. And never forget that win or lose it takes guts to step out onto the mat in the first place.

Oath of the Horatti Brothers

Jacques Louis David – Death of Socrates (1787)

Socrates taught Plato, who taught Aristotle, who was the tutor of Alexander the Great. Socrates was a very clever philosopher. After Athens lost the Peloponnesian War to Sparta he was charged, tried and convicted for the crime of “corrupting the youth”. The system allowed a guilty person to name his punishment, and the prosecutor would name another. The jury would then chose between the two. Socrates said “State support for life”, which pissed off the jury, so they chose the punishment recommended by the prosecutor, which was “death”. Socrates could have fled, but he said “I chose to live by the system, so I will now die by it”.

What is the meaning of life? When asked this question Socrates replied “The meaning of life is the meaning that you give it.”  This applies to the educated wrestler. If you want to be good, whether at wrestling or school or whatever, then work hard and it will happen. YOU give meaning to your own life.

When he was a younger man the oh-so-clever Socrates was a soldier in the Athenian army and he  fought in the battle of Delium when the Athenians got there arses kicked by the Boeotians.  Even Educated Wrestlers will get their arses kicked from time to time.

Death of Socrates

Jacques Louis David – Death of Marat (1793)

Marat had a peculiar disease which was soothed by taking baths, and he met people while in his bath. After the time of the French Revolution Marat was responsible for putting many citizens to the guillotine. The wife of one such victim came to visit him one day. She got close to him then stabbed him to death. This piece is all about set-ups and getting close. Gotta get close enough to your opponent before shooting your singles, doubles, high crotches or firemans.

Death of Marat (1793)

Jacques Louis David – Napoleon Crossing the Alps

This short little Frenchman  was a tactical genius. He controlled most of Europe, but he could not get at those pesky Englishmen, who ruled the seas (thanks to men like Admiral Nelson who whomped the French at sea in the Battle of Trafalgar). At one point in his military career Napoleon crossed the Alps. Note the reference to Hannibal in the bottom corner of the piece. Hannibal was a brilliant Carthaginian general who crossed the Alps to attack Rome. In the battle of Cannae (216 B.C.) Hannibal slaughtered 40,000 Romans. But the Romans kept regrouping and coming back. Finally, Hannibal was recalled to Carthage. The Romans eventually crushed Carthage, completely destroying the city. They sewed salt into the land so the city would never be able to grow again. The moral? Be like the Romans and never give up. You can be on your back or losing by points, but as long as the clock has not run out you can pin your opponent and win the match. And don’t worry if you are short.  As an aside, the Roman’s thought they were the centre of the universe.  But we know that was a very conceited metaphor.  To read about how the universe was created click here.

Napoleon Crossing the Alps

Benjamin West – The Death of General Wolfe (1770)

A little bit of Canadiana. Wolfe led the British troops in their victory over the French at the Plains of Abraham. In other places in the world the locations of famous battles are well posted for tourists, but you must hunt high and low in Quebec to find any reference to this battle. But there are good Quebec wrestlers, and we want them to wrestle for Canada rather than for Quebecistan, so let’s let them be a nation within a nation. And do your French homework.

The Death of General Wolfe  (1770)

Eugene Delacroix – Liberty Leading the People (1831)

This picture was painted by Delacroix after the French uprising of 1830. This picture should remind you to always press the attack.

Liberty Leading the People (1831)

Gericault – Raft of Medusa (1819)

This picture is about a famous shipwreck in which there were only 15 survivors out of 149 people. The survivors lived for two weeks without food or water, but there were tales of murder and cannibalism. This picture should remind you to never give up (but don’t eat your team mates).

Raft of Medusa (1819)

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