One has just been sent out as a biblical dove, has found nothing green, and slips back
into the darkness of the ark -- Kafka

Monday, January 16, 2012

Death of Seneca by Peter Paul Rubens


This painting is mentioned by Herbert in his essay "Spinoza's Bed":

It is an amazing thing that our memory best retains images of great philosophers when their lives were coming to an end. Socrates raising the chalice with hemlock to his mouth, Seneca whose veins were opened by a slave (there is a painting of this by Rubens), Descartes roaming cold palace rooms with a foreboding that his role of teacher of the Swedish queen would be his last, old Kant smelling a grated horse-radish before his daily walk (the cane preceding him, sinking deeper and deeper into the sand), Spinoza consumed by tuberculosis and patiently polishing lenses, so weak he is unable to finish his Treatise on the Rainbow. . . A gallery of noble moribunds, pale masks, plaster casts.
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