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Eris in classical art

Started by Nibor the Priest, December 20, 2022, 03:50:07 PM

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Nibor the Priest

[first posted as a twitter thread; expanded here]

I went looking for pictures of Eris in classical artwork. It turned out there are a lot more than I thought. I haven't seen a collection of these in a Discordian (or any other) context before, so here goes.

Firstly, the ancient Greek image of Eris that you're most likely to have seen, because it's used on the Wikipedia pages for Eris and Discordianism:

In Grecian times, Goddess posed for a few vases to pay the bills. This is a tasteful shot for a blackfigure kylix, around 550 BCE. Killer heels.

Redfigure vase, c. 450 BCE, showing Eris with Themis, goddess of wisdom and good counsel (whom you can identify with Aneris if you like). I assume Eris is the one on the left, just because the names were in that order. Nice dress.

Another redfigure vase, c. 400 BCE, in which Eris looks through a magic window into the wedding of Peleus and Thetis (pretty much all images I could find of Eris were in scenes of That Wedding), drawn by someone unfamiliar with boobs.

No Eris in this one, but it's a rather nice 2nd Century BCE mosaic of the Paris judging the Beauty Contest of the Goddesses, stolen from Antioch and currently held hostage in the Louvre. I think that's the Golden Apple at the top.

Engraving of the wedding of Peleus and Thetis on a sarcophagus, c. 120 BCE (as reproduced in Drury's History of the Greeks, 1886). It's not known who all of the characters are, but one lady is carrying what might be an apple and appears to be setting fire to the guy's foot next to her for a laugh, so.

Eris then seems to have avoided the limelight for a long period. I next found her in a 15th-century illuminated manuscript (which I couldn't find at a higher resolution, alas.)

She seems to be handing over the Apple rather too politely, but at least she's wearing a Pope hat and suitably outre colour malcoordination. She's also brought her dog with her, opening new possibilities in veterinary theology.

Ladies, gentlemen and nonbinary pals, we are about to enter the Renaissance period. Things may be about to get a bit Naked Where's Waldo.

Jans Brueghel's The Marriage of Peleus and Thetis (between 1583 and 1625). As in a lot of paintings from this period, Eris likes to float upside down 10 feet above the crowd, just as I would at big social gatherings if I could. Here she is depicted as a weedy androgynous teen with bat-wings.

A 1589 engraving by Jacques de Gheyn II, showing Eris as a saggy-boobed Cthulhu-Medusa. Look, I won't tell her if you don't.

Gillis van Valckenborch's The Marriage of Peleus and Thetis (1590-1622). Eris arrives on a stormcloud, looking blurry and draped in hippie shawls.

Jan van Balen's The Marriage Feast of Peleus and Thetis (1605-1642). Only about half the guests are naked. Maybe marrying a sea-nymph is like marrying a Betazoid. Eris seems to be manifesting as a weird fiery vulture-eagle.

Hendrik de Clerck's The Nuptials of Thetis and Peleus (c. 1606) Eris is painted as a larger woman of colour, probably for Highly Problematic reasons, but maybe unintentionally pretty cool? As well as the Apple, she carries a bellows—for fanning flames, geddit?—which I don't think I've seen in any modern Discordian depictions.

And now we get to this guy.

Joachim Wtewael (1566-1638) depicted Eris and/or the Apple of Discord so many times that I can only assume She was fucking with his head. I found at least five relevant paintings, made over a five-year period starting in 1610.

(seen here with her sidekick, Five-Legged Baby)

The fact that he seems to have painted (or revised?) so many of these, and they are all either called "The Wedding of Peleus and Thetis" or "The Judgement of Paris", makes it appropriately confusing to try and find them all. Dude could have done with a version control system. His style reminds me of the Josh Kirby cover art for the earlier Discworld novels.

Jacob Jordaen's The Golden Apple of Discord (1633). Eris looks a little confused herself, maybe because Jesus has just caught the Apple.

Abraham Bloemaert's The Feast of the Gods at the Wedding of Peleus and Thetis (1638). Eris once again travels by stormcloud.

Giusepe Pietro Mazzola's The Marriage of Peleus (1789). I'm not certain this was the artist's intention, but I like to think Eris is the one giving the couple the finger and then leaving to go bowling with her pals.

And my personal favourite.

Edward Burne-Jones's The Feast of Peleus (1872). It's like The Last Supper if shit was about to go DOWN. (Okay, different shit.)

Just. Look at Her.

The kooky indie-chick bodystocking outfit. The metal-as-hell bat wings. The wry malicious smile of a woman about to unleash holy fuck on a bunch of polite assholes. And they're all terrified of her.

EDIT: after positing this I noticed that Hermes/Mercury, who is the crouching figure wearing nothing but a bright blue helm and bright blue winged sandals so he looks like the stripogram, is holding a (non-gold) apple in one hand and a scroll in the other that reads DETUR PULCHRIORI, a rare Latin translation of Kallisti. If this is because Eris has not delivered the Apple personally but is using Hermes as a mail carrier, it would make this the original Jake.

This Eris appears to be painted after Burne-Jones's favourite model, the artist Maria Zambaco

(Portrait by Alexander Cassavetti)
Burne-Jones and Zambaco had had a scandalous affair a few years earlier. He continued to paint her in sorceress/temptress/dangerous lady roles for the rest of his career. I've given her a sainthood for her troubles.


Good post! Thanks for reposting here.  :mittens: :mittens:
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This is absolutely wonderful, and the commentary is spot on. Thanks for this post!
May the good fairy bop you on your bippy.