Let the Heads Roll

Caravaggio

Medusa was killed by Perseus, son of Zeus and Danae. Anyone looking directly at Medusa would turn to stone. Perseus snuck up to her backwards, looking at her reflection in his shield, and cut off her head. He put the head in a bag and would pull it out to turn his enemies to stone. Just like the Bible story of when Lot’s wife turned to stone when she looked back on Sodom after it was destroyed.

Medusa (1600)

Medusa (1600)

Even though it worked for Perseus, a good wrestler does not usually turn his/her back on an opponent. Also, stay focused and never lose your head.

Caravaggio

Judith went to the enemy camp to supposedly flirt with Holifernes, who was the captain of the enemy. But she set him up nicely by getting him drunk. Then she cut off his head. An attack in wrestling is always improved by a good set-up. The creation of an angle of attack is often the best set-up.

Judith and Holifernes (1598)

Judith and Holifernes (1598)

Caravaggio

David beat Goliath because he was better prepared, and because Goliath underestimated him as an opponent. But when you beat your opponent you must show a little more grace and respect than did David. And if you lose you must also show grace and good sportsmanship.

David and Goliath (1606)

David and Goliath (1606)

Hans Holbein

Henry VIII was a big, strong and intelligent man who liked to wrestle. Henry practiced getting married 6 times (you must practice your singles, doubles, high crotches and firemans carry 600 times). He first married Katherine of Aragon, who was the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabelle of Spain (who sponsored you-know-who-in-1492). He chopped off the head of his best friend, Thomas More, because Thomas would not bless Henry’s divorce from Katherine.

Henry VIII (1540)

Henry VIII (1540)

The headless Thomas then became a Catholic saint and a school in Burnaby was named after him. Before her eventual divorce Katherine begat Mary. Henry next married Ann Boleyn, who also got her head chopped off by Henry, but before losing her head she mothered Elizabeth 1. One of Henry’s many wives finally bore him a sickly son, Edward VI, who became King but died shortly thereafter, having appointed Lady Jane Gray as successor. Lady Jane Gray lasted nine days before getting her head chopped off by Mary, who became Queen Mary I.  Queen Mary was referred to as Bloody Mary because she had lots of heads chopped off.  Her half sister Elizabeth didn’t lose her head and eventually became Queen Elizabeth I. She sponsored piracy (the English hero Sir Francis Drake plundered Spanish gold) and her navy defeated the Spanish Armada in 1588. Henry was Protestant, Lady Jane was Protestant, Mary was Catholic, Elizabeth was Protestant, and James was a sympathetic Protestant who produced the “King James” version of the Bible. James chopped off the head of Walter Raleigh, who was the fellow who brought tobacco to England from the colonies (the moral to this story…..athletes should not smoke).  James’ son, Charles I, also got his head chopped off.  Chop chop chop.

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