1 GN 49:2, 8-10
Jacob called his sons and said to them:
“Assemble and listen, sons of Jacob,listen to Israel, your father.
“You, Judah, shall your brothers praise–your hand on the neck of your enemies;
the sons of your father shall bow down to you.
Judah, like a lion’s whelp, you have grown up on prey, my son.
He crouches like a lion recumbent, the king of beasts–who would dare rouse him?
The scepter shall never depart from Judah,or the mace from between his legs,
While tribute is brought to him, and he receives the people’s homage.”
A Historical Allegory
Sleeping figures first appeared during the Hellenistic period (323BC-31BC). Historians speculate that the development of sleeping figures could be attributed to a shift in thought from exterior presentation towards the consideration of inner life and introspection. It was during this period that a new image of the mythical god Eros as a baby took hold. In this work, dating from 250-150 BC, we see Eros “momentarily napping outside in the midst of his labors” (1).
Here you have the spiritualizing of Hellenistic thought which "held that the body is the prison of the soul" (2). It is suggested that the Eros figure might represent the allegorical stoic ideal of “tranquility attained when desires are laid to rest” (ibid). And although this image in no way was meant to represent or foretell of the birth of Christ, it does speak of a truth. It is the truth that ancient humanity had been telling in their myths and prophecies- that this world needed to
find peace and to be saved.
Christians eventually revisited this ancient prototype with all of its grace and beauty. However, it was reintroduced to the world with a new Christian identity- as the Anapeson. Believers confidently asserted that the One or the ideal that ancient peoples sought but did not find had now been resolved in the person of Jesus Christ, the bearer of true peace and long awaited messiah.
Behold, the Lord will come down in all His splendor to give His people peace and bring them to eternal life" (Mk 13:34-37).
Symbolic Details Part Two (12/19-20)
I thought it worth noting selected paragraphs about Eros from the MET website in comparison to the 19th or early 20th century statue of Jesus pictured above.
In the above statue, Jesus' head still rests on the royal cushion which is referenced in many religious artworks including the painting at the top of this page. Often the cushion is placed under the feet as a footstool or used to soften a seat. Since ancient times, the crowns of royalty were ceremoniously place upon it and in that case, it was never used except for public ceremony.
Although the royal cushion is not as prestigious and exclusive as in former times (anyone can own a version without penalty), it is still used as a royal accessory.
The quiver and bow of Eros has been replaced by the cross which is the symbol of Jesus' great love for us and the reason why he entered the world-to suffer and die out of love for us all. The crib of Bethlehem stands in the shadow of the cross:
CCC 601 The Scriptures had foretold this divine plan of salvation through the putting to death of "the righteous one, my Servant" as a mystery of universal redemption, that is, as the ransom that would free men from the slavery of sin...(398). In particular Jesus' redemptive death fulfills Isaiah's prophecy of the suffering Servant (399). Indeed Jesus himself explained the meaning of his life and death in the light of God's suffering Servant (400). After his Resurrection he gave this interpretation of the Scriptures to the disciples at Emmaus, and then to the apostles (401).
MET: "Reconstructing the Missing Parts of Sleeping Eros
Replicas help us to understand the parts that are now missing. A small bow originally rested against the rock, where it dropped from Eros' open hand, and an open quiver lay by his head. Such details added to the tender naturalistic impression of the god momentarily napping outside in the midst of his labors. The head would have rested on the left arm cushioned by a bundle of drapery that served as a pillow. Although the base is modern, the finished cast edge evident on much of the underside of the statue and a groove cut into the bottom of the proper left wing suggest that the original base was of another material, likely stone.
Interpretation and Function
The choice of representing Eros asleep was an innovative and clever composition. Although the quiver around his neck and the presence of the bow allude to his ability to wound, Sleeping Eros is a depiction of the god of love at peace and of the pure innocence of love. Given its large scale and high quality, it was probably a religious dedication set up at a sanctuary, like the famous bronze Eros by Lysippos dedicated at Thespiae in Boeotia. It may have been a dedication to Eros; to his mother, Aphrodite; or to both of them. In later times, the statue may have remained in its original location or been moved as a valuable antique Greek sculpture and displayed in a private setting such as a Roman villa."
by Christi M Jentz 2014.
Notes, Art, Photography CMJENTZ ©2013-2018
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