Monday, October 1, 2012

We found her lying there with an asp clasped in her grasp

According to John Ptak, this was was "the First Image of a Suicide on a Title Page". Then there was the outcry about "sensationalism" and "exploitation", and all the apologies. But other publishers realised soon enough that the penalty subtracting from the bump in circulation was approximately zero. For the next few hundred years you couldn't look like a Stoic philosopher or a Roman heroine without finding woodcut technicians following you from tavern to tavern in the hope of capturing a spectacular cliff-dive or vein-opening.
She's looking kind of erratic, isn't she? Um, I don't know, no, look at this, she's just running, oh my, well, it looks like she's a little disoriented or something, it's always possible the gal could be on something...oh, [off screen: woah, oh my god] she's got an asp get off, get off, GET OFF IT—GET OFF IT

Does it not follow, Alcibiades, that the truest pleasure is to be had from scragging that wee gobshite painter who snuck in from the Fox Channel?

So it would seem, Socrates.



UPDATED with Bonus Suicide-by-Cop (to assuage our BLOODTHIRSTY DESENSITISED commenters who demand SENSATION and GORE)
...Also sourced from Ptak Books.



I blame the insatiable public hunger for gladiatorial spectacle that ruins it for everyone.

10 comments:

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

He gasped.
~

mikey said...

My goodness, but Cleopatra's a big rough n tumble gal, ain't she? She's not only...robust, she's quite buffed up. No coked up downtown drama queen she...

M. Bouffant said...

People were just built different in those days.

Substance McGravitas said...

I can think of a much more famous suicide-by-cop already.

Smut Clyde said...

OK, Mr McGravitas, I have left a note at Ptak's site reminding him that one of Durer's 'Crucifixion' woodcuts was used as a title page in 1517 -- predating his Hans Holbein title page by 6 years.
He doesn't update his comment threads very often, and the note might be stuck in Moderation Limbo indefinitely.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Ptak?

Pinko Punko?

Join the dots, sheeple!
~

Another Kiwi said...

I think it is very kind of the soldier to swat the fly offen the arm of the man with the stick. I only wish the dog wouldn't growl at the soldier.

mikey said...

There's just no angle you can look at that bottom image from and not conclude that the swordsman (heh) is incompetent.

His name is Mr. Completely!!

Rachel said...

My professor of Neoclassical Painting's finest hour was his lecture on Jacques Louis David (the Socrates pic.) but if you ask me all the heads are too small!

vacuumslayer said...

I like to pronounce Socrates "so-kraytes." People look at me like I'm stupid, then I explain "that's how they say it in New Zealand." NOW WHO'S STOOPIT?