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This week we will be examining Sir Peter Paul Ruben’s (1577 – 1640) 1639 masterpiece, the Consequences of War.
In 1638, Rubens wrote a letter to Justus Sustermans (1597 – 1681), the court painter to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Ferdinanda II de Medici (1610 – 1670), explaining the painting’s meaning:”The principal figure is Mars, who has left the open temple of Janus (which in time of peace,
“The principal figure is Mars, who has left the open temple of Janus (which in time of peace, according to Roman custom, remained closed) and rushes forth with shield and blood-stained sword, threatening the people with great disaster. He pays little heed to Venus, his mistress, who, accompanied by Amors and Cupids, strives with caresses and embraces to hold him. From the other side, Mars is dragged forward by the Fury Alekto, with a torch in her hand. Nearby are monsters personifying Pestilence and Famine, those inseparable partners of War. On the ground, turning her back, lies a woman with a broken lute, representing Harmony, which is incompatible with the discord of War. There is also a mother with her child in her arms, indicating that fecundity, procreation and charity are thwarted by War, which corrupts and destroys everything. In addition, one sees an architect thrown on his back, with his instruments in his hand, to show that which in time of peace is constructed for the use and ornamentation of the City, is hurled to the ground by the force of arms and falls to ruin. I believe, if I remember rightly, that you will find on the ground, under the feet of Mars a book and a drawing on paper, to imply that he treads underfoot all the arts and letters. There ought also to be a bundle of darts or arrows, with the band which held them together undone; these when bound form the symbol of Concord. Beside them is the caduceus and an olive branch, attribute of Peace; these are also cast aside. That grief-stricken woman clothed in black, with torn veil, robbed of all her jewels and other ornaments, is the unfortunate Europe who, for so many years now, has suffered plunder, outrage, and misery, which are so injurious to everyone that it is unnecessary to go into detail. Europe’s attribute is the globe, borne by a small angel or genius, and surmounted by the cross, to symbolize the Christian world.”
Speaking at Corpus Christi, President Trump praised Texas’ response to Hurricane Harvey:
“We want to do it better than ever before. We want to be looked at in five years and ten years from now as, this is the way to do it. This was of epic proportion. No one has ever seen anything like this.”
President Trump went on to say:
“I just want to say in working with the Governor and his entire time has been an honour for us.”
President Trump then travelled to Austin where he spoke at an emergency operations centre:
“Probably there’s never been anything so expensive in our country’s history. There’s never been anything so historic in terms of damage and in terms of ferocity as we’ve witnessed with Harvey.”
President Trump continued:
“And the sad thing is the never seen anything this long, and nobody’s ever seen this much water in particular. The wind was pretty horrific, but the water has never been seen like this to the extent. It’s maybe someday going to disappear. We keep waiting.”
The National Weather Service issued a flash-flood watch for Houston on Tuesday evening. A spokesperson said:
“There is the potential for catastrophic flooding over the next several days as Tropical Storm Harvey moves inland and slowly over southeastern Texas. Additional rainfall totals of 15-25 inches are likely with isolated amounts higher through mid next week.”
Meanwhile, Republican Congressman, Pete Sessions, has told MSNBC that east Texas and Lousiana are preparing for flooding. Sessions said:
“What lies ahead for everyone is to make sure that after the trauma of water that everybody has their tetanus shots, that they get their medicine, that we take care of children. Obviously when people get together we then — whether like it or not, we have diarrhoea problems, we have food problems, we have needs of people, we are prepared for the this. I believe the problem is that people are having trouble getting out of Houston because of the bands of rain.”
Ken Storey, a Professor of sociology, has been fired from his job at the University of Tampa in Florida for tweeting:
“I don’t believe in instant Karma but this kinda feels like it for Texas. Hopefully will help them realise the GOP doesn’t care about them.”
Unsurprisingly, numerous mainstream news figures have associated Hurricane Harvey to global warming. Together with guests from the New York Times, the Washington Post, and other news outlets, CNN and MSNBC anchors have sought to blame Hurricane Harvey on the Trump administration’s environmental federal policies.