Tag Archives: painting


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The roses of Heliogabalus

Nothing is as aesthetically harmless as a shower of rose petals.  So it is with the decadent opulence and aesthetic excesses of a declining empire.  In the western world the “peasants” are smothered with glitz and glamorous televised special effects, entertainments, athletic spectacles and indulged in gluttonous festivals on a daily basis. Conversely, during the Black Death plague that wiped out 2/3 of European civilization, people wore flowers around their necks to disguise the smell of their rotting flesh, just before they died.  This is the origin of the children’s song “Ring Around The Rosey, Pocket Full of Poseys, All Fall Down“.

We are the very same beings who lived in Rome.  We died.  We were reincarnated.  This process repeated, again, and again, and again, explains the rise and fall of human civilizations on Planet Earth.  So far, EVERY civilization on Earth has failed and disappeared.  Without exceptions.  Why is that?  Simple: we are the people our mothers warned us about.  It does not matter whether you “believe” it, or not.  What is, is.  What will be, will be.  Unless each one of us decides to change our personal behavior.  Unless we create a sustainable civilization for everyone, every day, our civilization declines and disappears.  When we allow criminals and maniacs to rule our lives (Secret Societies, Private Bankers and Politicians) we are doomed to repeat the same decay and death we’ve already endured a thousand times.  Personally, I’m tired of it.  It’s too fucking boring and absurd!

Last year I read The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon (27 April 1737– 16 January 1794) which was published in six volumes between 1776 and 1788.  I am also a painter and a student of art history. The decadent murder attempt rendered beautifully in the painting titled, The Roses of Heliogabalus”  was painted in 1888 by the Anglo-Dutch academician Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema.

“According to Gibbon, the Roman Empire succumbed to barbarian invasions in large part due to the gradual loss of civic virtue among its citizens.  They had become weak, outsourcing their duties to defend their Empire to barbarian mercenaries, who then became so numerous and ingrained that they were able to take over the Empire. Romans, he believed, had become effeminate, unwilling to live a tougher, “manly” military lifestyle. In addition, Gibbon argued that Christianity created a belief that a better life existed after death, which fostered an indifference to the present among Roman citizens, thus sapping their desire to sacrifice for the Empire. He also believed its comparative pacifism tended to hamper the traditional Roman martial spirit. Finally, like other Enlightenment thinkers, Gibbon held in contempt the Middle Ages as a priest-ridden, superstitious, dark age.”  (Wikipedia.org)

Any student of history, especially of the Roman Empire, cannot be otherwise than overwhelmed by the nearly identical parallels in the decay and decline of the American Empire.  This principle difference is that the American deterioration has taken only 200 years, whereas the collapse of Rome took about 1500.  I cannot resist commenting on the decadent, aesthetic irony embodied by this painting:  It is based on an episode in the life of the Roman emperor Heliogabalus, (204–222), taken from the Augustan History.  He is portrayed attempting   to smother his unsuspecting guests in rose-petals released from false ceiling panels.  “In a banqueting room with a reversible ceiling he once overwhelmed his parasites with violets and other flowers, so that some were actually smothered to death, being unable to crawl out to the top.”

The emperor was cut to pieces by swords at the age of 18, by the Praetorian Guard, — at the instigation of his own grandmother — who was outraged and incensed by the perverse sexual and political behavior of this boy-emperor.  Heliogabalus was bi-sexual, rampantly promiscuous, and unabashedly disrespectful of Roman Law and moral codes.

Members of the Praetorian Guard attacked Heliogabalus and his mother: So he made an attempt to flee, and would have got away somewhere by being placed in a chest, had he not been discovered and slain, at the age of 18.  His mother, who embraced him and clung tightly to him, perished with him; their heads were cut off and their bodies, after being stripped naked, were first dragged all over the city, and then the mother’s body was cast aside somewhere or other, while his was thrown into the river.”

What do you think  the Praetorian Guard might do with Emperors, Wall Street Banksters and Congressmen today?

How much longer do you think American civilization will endure before it is smothered in its own decadence? 


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Alex Alemany-GB Shaw

( See more Magical Paintings by the Spanish artist, Alex Alemany  on his website — http://www.alexalemany.com )

QUOTE:  George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950) was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60 plays. He was also an essayist, novelist and short story writer. Nearly all his writings address prevailing social problems with a vein of comedy which makes their stark themes more palatable. Issues which engaged Shaw’s attention included education, marriage, religion, government, health care, and class privilege.

He was most angered by what he perceived as the exploitation of the working class. An ardent socialist, Shaw wrote many brochures and speeches for the Fabian Society. He became an accomplished orator in the furtherance of its causes, which included gaining equal rights for men and women, alleviating abuses of the working class, rescinding private ownership of productive land, and promoting healthy lifestyles.  Shaw was noted for expressing his views in uncompromising language, whether on vegetarianism (branding his own pre-vegetarian self a “cannibal”), the development of the human race (his own brand of eugenics).

~ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Bernard_Shaw




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Here is a video montage of Female Faces portrayed in paintings by Western (male) artists during the past 500 years. Although the faces portrayed were thought to be “beautiful” by the MEN who painted them, the reality of their “beauty” was very short-lived.  By the age of 18, most women were “middle-aged” and “matronly”  If a girl was not already married and bearing children by this time, her chances of surviving — in the lower economic classes  — were not very good.  The girl who was not “pretty enough” to be married was doomed to be supported by her father, or other family members, until she was “lucky” enough to find a husband, or until she died of old age or disease.  There were no “jobs” or “careers” for women outside the bedroom and household.

If Females had painted portraits woman during the 500 year period shown in this video, what would they look like?   Oh, but of course, females were not PERMITTED to paint… or read… or become educated… or go to school…. or discuss ideas in the presence of men.  During the 500 year period during which these portraits were being painted by MEN, the women being portrayed were really little more than slaves, who were literally the owned property of their fathers or husbands.  Women were expected to endure a life of child bearing, domestic drudgery and mind-numbing “female” work, like cleaning, washing, cooking, sewing, and having sex whenever their spouse demanded it of them (without any birth control, or abortion.)  So, in retrospect, I think we must realize that the male view of women has not really been very “beautiful”.