Friday, March 20, 2015


Blake had come too close to war in his own times to glorify it by making it the subject of his poetry. Warriors and Kings were not his heroes. That role was reserved for Artists and Prophets and mental revolutionaries. To him the suitable war in which men may engage was an intellectual war through which ideas may form, grow into systems, mature, and engender new ideas which would replace them. Blake chose the Greeks to symbolize a culture which had lost its soul by engaging in and glorifying physical not mental wars.
The Trojan War developed out of rivalries, jealousies, possessiveness, abduction and bitterness. Cities, families, armies, navies and cultures were destroyed as a result of the manipulation of individuals by the Gods on whom they projected their psyches.

In 1811-12 Blake painted for Butts two images drawing on the Trojan War: one to represent the origin of the war, the other showing the turning point which led to its resolution. A post from 2010 titled GREEK INFLUENCE commented on Blake's Judgement of Paris which shows the incident which began the trouble.

British Museum
Judgement of Paris
Milton, Plate i, (E 95)
"                                 Preface.
The Stolen and Perverted Writings of Homer & Ovid: of Plato &
Cicero. which all Men ought to contemn: are set up by artifice
against the Sublime of the Bible. but when the New Age is at
leisure to Pronounce; all will be set right: & those Grand Works
of the more ancient & consciously & professedly Inspired Men,
will hold their proper rank, & the Daughters of Memory shall
become the Daughters of Inspiration. Shakspeare & Milton were
both curbd by the general malady & infection from the silly Greek
& Latin slaves of the Sword.

     Rouze up O Young Men of the New Age! set your foreheads
against the ignorant Hirelings! For we have Hirelings in the
Camp, the Court, & the University: who would if they could, for
ever depress Mental & prolong Corporeal War. Painters! on you I
call! Sculptors! Architects! Suffer not the fash[i]onable Fools
to depress your powers by the prices they pretend to give for
contemptible works or the expensive advertizing boasts that they
make of such works; believe Christ & his Apostles that there is a
Class of Men whose whole delight is in Destroying. We do not 
want either Greek or Roman Models if we are but just & true to
our own Imaginations, those Worlds of Eternity in which we shall
live for ever; in Jesus our Lord."

Jerusalem, Plate 8, (E 151)
"All the infant Loves & Graces were lost, for the mighty Hand
Plate 9
Condens'd his Emanations into hard opake substances;
And his infant thoughts & desires, into cold, dark, cliffs of death.
His hammer of gold he siezd; and his anvil of adamant.
He siez'd the bars of condens'd thoughts, to forge them:
Into the sword of war: into the bow and arrow:                   
Into the thundering cannon and into the murdering gun
I saw the limbs form'd for exercise, contemn'd: & the beauty of
Eternity, look'd upon as deformity & loveliness as a dry tree:
I saw disease forming a Body of Death around the Lamb
Of God, to destroy Jerusalem, & to devour the body of Albion     
By war and stratagem to win the labour of the husbandman:
Awkwardness arm'd in steel: folly in a helmet of gold:
Weakness with horns & talons: ignorance with a rav'ning beak!
Every Emanative joy forbidden as a Crime:
And the Emanations buried alive in the earth with pomp of religion:          
Inspiration deny'd; Genius forbidden by laws of punishment:"

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