I’m the guy with the threefold cord.
This is my favorite painting, and–incidentally–my original-and-now-current Gravatar. On a business trip to Chicago, I went to the Art Institute, and saw it for the first time at full, life-altering, scale. I’d never even heard of Bartolomeo Manfredi before that.
A commenter the other day called me a preacher. I want to be clear that I do not claim to be a pastor for any man or woman except those God put in my house. My interpretations of scripture–though I believe them to be sound–are not themselves scripture, and I do not hold anyone to account for them. In fact, what I write here is as much an investigation more than a proclamation.
Now go to church. There are people there that need your help.
Can you explain the painting? It is fascinating. It looks like he is whipping cupid? The woman is fighting him off. I see a chariot in the back. My layman’s guess is the man is trying to conquer eros while to woman wants otherwise since cupid serves her purposes. The exposed breast seems to suggest she was trying to seduce?
I know I could probably google but I am a bit sick and academic reading is hard for me to digest when I am sick.
I love Chicago. I lived in Cicero for several years.
I’m not an art critic or historian, but I’ll tell you what I see.
I believe is it Mars whipping Cupid, and Venus interfering. I think it’s natural to assume that Cupid must have shot someone that caused a complication for Mars–either stopping a war Mars didn’t want stopped, or starting a war of which Mars does not approve. I’ve always thought the doves flying away (doves are symbols of peace) actually encourages the latter interpretation. This is a war Mars does not want.
The tricky thing about Italian Renaissance art is that Italy was a mess of cultures and influences. Jove and Jehovah were sometimes synonymous; Noah is a direct forebear of Romulus and Remus; Greek gods mingled with more common hearth gods, and the Christian God.
If I understand, Mars wasn’t the pure war god that Aries was in the Greek tradition. By the Renaissance, he had come to represent a more full meaning of manly aggression and pursuit. Romans, ah, romanticized Spartan society; though they did not emulate it.
So, we have a picture of manliness whipping Cupid for interfering, and he’s using a cord of three braids to do it. I’m fairly knowledgable of tropes, and the most common trope of cords with three braids is the three-fold cord of marriage–which makes sense. Marriage is the whip of manly civilization that brings sexual energy to useful purpose.
What’s interesting to me about Venus is: 1) She doesn’t seem to be trying very hard to stop Mars. Maybe this has happened before? Maybe she’s assuming Cupid’s immortal state will spare him? Maybe she’s afraid if she’s too aggressive Mars will turn on her?
My money says those things in her hand are the key. Yes, she’s trying to spare Cupid, but her real concern is salvaging those arrows of eros. Just as Mars came to represent general manliness and male energy, so Venus came to represent femininity and female energy. Why save the arrows? Hypergamy in corruption seems to be a pretty good explanation.
When I initially saw the painting, I’d never heard the word hypergamy, but I was aware of women’s penchant for looking for the next exciting thing.
Interesting. So my next question is- Why do you consider yourself like Mars?
Have you read my blog?
I see that you believe yourself to be fighting a war of sorts. I am just unsure what the war is and how you know when you have won.
I’ve not read your entire blog yet working on it but perhaps you should try this site, you might find some answers or at least some different insights there.
Anon: I’ve been there before. Another commenter on another blog recommended it. I can’t say I understood it, though, as they practice it.
On the other hand (heh), I swat my wife on the butt all the time; sometimes stingingly hard, but always in play, and never in anger. I just don’t get the formality of it.
Ahh, run into that misnomer before. TiH is not about DD, BDSM, for those with a spanking fetish or FemDom. Spanking takes no part in my TiH marriage nor does it in many of them. If you are looking for something deeper than the anger spend some time delving into the site. I would recommend “Taken In Hand in a nutshell” and “What you need to know about Taken in Hand.”
It saved my marriage, long before the Manosphere. Had I come across the Manosphere when I was looking for hope I would have not found it. I don’t think I would be married today.
I’ll keep you and yours in my prayers.
I love this painting. However, “Cupid Chastised” is an interesting (disturbing) choice for a marriage-oriented blog.
A breast often symbolizes vulnerability in classical art; see common representations of Justice: Justice is powerful (note the sword) but needs protecting (emancipated gland).
Despite what inept self-help literature and pop culture would have us believe, Mars is not the chosen man for Venus. That would be Vulcan, in all of his crippled, impotent glory. Mars and Venus remained clandestine lovers until such point that Vulcan trapped them in the act. What we are seeing is a lover’s quarrel, not a marriage disrupted or, as one might like to imagine it, a patriarch asserting authority. Mars is not taking control of an awkward situation. Rather, he continues to promote one.
The shattered peace, fleeing doves, could have a double meaning. Not only is the peace of their continued affair lost, but the peace of her marriage has long since fled in the presence of Warbringer.
Of the threefold cord, one of my favorite passages, this biblical tether is likely not represented here. True, the painted cord is “folded” three times to make a flail of four, not three, striking surfaces; however, the passage from Ecclesiastes refers to a single cord of three strands, i.e. a simple rope. Alas, all ropes need not allude to Jewish and Christian canon.
What does that leave us? A violent Mars raging against eros, raging against lust itself. Now the speculation can begin. Is he jealous of some burgeoning romantic seed in the breast of his stolen prize? Is he upset by the complicated and emotional situation in which he finds himself? Does he seek freedom from his dishonorable situation only to find himself overwhelmed with desire, so he rages at desire itself?
Love is vulnerable, blind lust is thrashed, and man has lost control. We see the loss of control in the placement of Mars’s helmet, strewn across the floor. This is rage, not discipline.
Last, and most puzzling for me, is the broken arrow, set in plain sight at the buttocks of Eros. Does this image symbolize desire shattered, desire unmet, a simple reference to impotence?
Interesting choice, brother.
Great comment, JI. You get to the gist of why I chose this painting when you wrote:
You have found me out, brother.
For the record, I never forwarded the idea that Venus is Mar’s man. No, in fact I think he’d prefer it if she’d get out of his business.
One thing I would point out that I think you’re missing, and may in fact change your appreciation of the piece, and if not: for my choice of it.
This is one cord, made of three strands, (allusion one) and also folded over into–as you state–three striking surfaces. Two strands, and one loop (allusion two). In fact, the loop would be sufficient for whipping purposes. Again, as you say, it has at least twice the power of the two other individual strands, and is in fact more that the sum of the other two. Moreover: it is, in fact, a loop; whole in itself; a symbol of completeness (allusion three). Finally, I would point out that the loop is at the center of the threefold cord. It literally holds the other two together by being part of them (allusion four).
Bam! Wachoo got now, sucka?
“You have found me out, brother.”
I realized this right after posting it.
“Bam! Wachoo got now, sucka?”
Nice. I have yet to see a rope with such depths.
Love this painting. Love finding new art. Thanks!
Oddly enough, I see this right after you laid the smackdown on Rollo over at Donal’s blog. (Which, thank you for that. So few people are willing to confront Rollo or even see the need.)
You’ve earned this picture, man. You’ve earned it.
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“I see this right after you laid the smackdown on Rollo over at Donal’s blog.
Where is the Rollo smackdown?
[CC: She’s referring to this]
I read some comments you made regarding what American Catholics call “Natural Family Planning” (periodic continence). Your problem with it is not actually with NFP, but with a modern, popular, and erroneous interpretation of it. You are right in your criticism. I here provide a link to a rich homily of an orthodox Father on Christian marriage and the abuses of NFP (in summary: everything). I am certain you will find it interesting.
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Just wanted to say your comments on Amanhiswifethebible’s website are refreshing. I agree that women looking to rebel don’t need help. I thought that it actually would have done the opposite when I still rejected submission. Most men aren’t beating their wives or treating them horribly, so why would I be so opposed to submitting to a man that is held to a standard like that. I’m guessing that you think John Macarthur, John Piper and Paul Washer are too feminized but I think they all have a good picture of how it’s supposed to be. My apologies if I’m wrong about your opinion of these respected pastors. (Just to be clear, not flirting here either). I didn’t comment there because I think I’ve been banned. You have a pretty decent way of writing that comes across as strong in your opinion without the arrogance of Aman.
[CC: Approved for effect and posterity’s sake.]
Hi Cane, I just thought I would say hello.
I enjoyed reading the discussion on Dalrock’s blog on the thread; ‘Responses to Laura Lifshitz hits the big time’. Good call. I think you did a favour to the husband of the GwtDT, and I think she will benefit from the experience. Well done, and God bless you.