Thursday, April 27, 2006

Re-Discovered: A Sensational 2,000 Year Old Masterpiece Neglected by Art-Historians A Radical Iconographic Analysis

This is a most powerful piece of a Roman wall-painting found in Pompeii, now preserved in the National Museum of the city of Naples (Italy), believed to be 2,000 years old (from the first century AD), representing Medea, moments before the killing of her own children. As the pictorial visualization of an emotional psychological moment of immense tension and pressure, it is unequalled in the world’s history of art – the madness in the eyes, engulfing her whole visage is clearly captured.

What is even more extraordinary and unique is the ultra-eroticism of the picture’s iconography, and the most shocking sexual messages encoded by the unknown painter, enlightening the socio-philosophical dimensions of human sexuality, two thousand years before our own Freudian post-modernism.

Medea is holding a kind of super-long ‘meat-cleaver’, with a broad blade (faded out into the background) stuck on a phallic head, the handle of which – seen in the reverse direction – plunges into Medea’s cupped hands – and there’s the rub!

Medea’s hands, with thumbs just touching, form a most blatant opened-up vulva. Computer technology offers a miraculous opportunity to art historians and critics for the very first time in history to demonstrate (make explicit) their implicit interpretative insights – and here is how ; by stretching the above close-up of Medea’s hands, one gets a graphic, almost a pornographic thumbnail image of the vagina, with the ‘sword’ handle inside giving it an extraordinary perspectival depth, five hundred years before such experiments were undertaken by the Renaissance painters (like Masaccio, for example, foreshortening figures). Additionally, the dagger-handle gives the vaginal cave-like opening the appropriate textured walls almost photographically, as a physiologically true close-up. Now rotate the thumbnail close-up 360 degrees, and the photogenic eroticism becomes almost intensely photo-realistic… The female plumpness of the hands display a ‘naked’ ‘clean-shaven’ Mons Veneris (the pubic triangle labelled in antiquity as the Mound of Venus, frequently depilated among the aristocracy), the triangular shape of which (five hundred years later identified as Leonardo Da Vinci’s compositional trademark) is emphasized and re-emphasized several times in connection with the naturally curved arms – triangle, within a triangle, within a triangle, like a Chinese box.

Medea, thus (on the verge of child-murder) is portrayed as a woman with a phallic dagger plunged right into the wide-open orifice of her very genitals (almost ready for child-birth) – Jason’s action (of neglecting his ethical duty towards his Wife number One – see my article preceding this, titled ‘The Much Misunderstood Medea’) has stabbed her in her, not heart, but over-excited cave-like (because not a ‘civilized’ Greek) vulva!

The classical Greeks (on Vases and Drinking Vessels) portrayed over-sized genitals as symbols of sexual animalism in human beings, usually on Satyrs (with animal hoofs), Bacchic revellers and … Foreigners. The latter as a social class were considered to be ‘uncivilized’, hence ‘barbaric’, identified with uncontrollable animal sexuality with large genitals.

In this Roman portraiture heavily clothed, the painter succeeds with extraordinary subtlety and painterly skill in painting a naked Venus-mound – smooth-skinned plump hands (in the absolute foreground of the painting), highlighted by the layered background of the heavy clothing – a most remarkable iconographic achievement in the world-history of painting.

Medea’s abundantly bejewelled right arm criss-crosses the folds and the patterns of the heavy fabric of the clothing, creating the visual illusion of a tiger and/or a lion skin, Medea’s chest being its head…with dark-blood red nipples as the fiery eyes. Moreover, the latter, has more in it than meets the eye – the painter’s iconography
(1) Underlines conceptually the tragic ambiguous intensity of Medea’s
Emotional state, sprouting blood instead of milk and
(2) In terms of sheer painterly craft, skilfully indicates a transparent blouse for the nipples to be seen (and bleed) thus.
It remains to be aware that the milk-white sunlight (the Milky Way was known to the classical Greeks) falling on her chest is a reference to Helios – the sun-god, who was Medea’s divine grandfather, and saviour of her skin from the unforgivable act of murdering her own children, only and only and for no other reason but to deeply and mortally wound their father, Jason, because he loved them infinitely – obviously, she didn’t, because she could kill them for sheer power-games – and all because she felt deeply insulted, stabbed and wounded in her c*** as uniquely illustrated in this most extraordinary masterpiece screaming down the millennia that All is sexual, and Sexuality is All.


At 1:27 PM, Blogger High Power Rocketry said...

: )

At 7:40 AM, Blogger Dr Mark Morrison said...

I am puzzled as to why you describe your analysis as "radical" - what is radical about it?

At 6:49 AM, Blogger Ancientvine said...

Wow you provide a wonderful example of "looking way to deep" in this piece of ancient art. Sure romans provided strong sexual content in frescoes and wall painting but your analysis is a bit too Freudian for me.


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