Hello, you may know me as Obscura – I’ve been hanging around the Armitage blogosphere for about 8 months now, reading, commenting, ogling, objectifying, you know the drill. I wrote a guest post for Servetus at me+Richard Armitage and I’ve recently started posting fanfiction at Dreamer Fiction. I have yet to fully figure out WordPress, and it seems that the name Obscura is already in use…maybe by me? (I don’t know since I’ve never officially registered with WP.) I hope you will bear with me as I learn the ropes here since I don’t really know how or if this first post will work the way I’d like.
Anyway, a few weeks ago a friend, (you know who you are) suggested, that I take a look around for reflections of Richard Armitage on Greek ceRAmics. I don’t remember the context of the suggestion, but it got me thinking, and then looking. Lo and behold – with only a cursory look around the corpus of vases, I found a number of images that either bear a striking physical resemblance to the classical features of Mr. Armitage, or a certain thematic paRAllels to scenes from his body of work. When I thought more about it, I concluded, why stop with vase painting? There are several media in the classical tRAdition where I might well find such representations. Thus, a blog is born. Every so often I’ll bring you some images that struck me as Armitage-esque in one way or another and add a bit of commentary. I’ll also interject with things I find relevant from time to time – hence the among other things in the tagline. No time like the present I suppose, so here goes:
The recent release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has left me with Thorin on the brain. It is, therefore, not surprising that I came across a vase painting that reminded me distinctly of a scene from the film. I have seen the vase below dozens of times, but I looked at it with fresh eyes this week.
This vase, which dates to around 515 B.C.E., has a storied history of its own, but it is the central scene depicting the fall of the hero Sarpedon on the battlefield of Troy that I am interested in. Here we see the winged figures of Hypnos (Sleep) and Thanatos (Death) lifting Sarpedon under the supervision of the god Hermes. I see distinct similarities between this scene and the scene from TH where the fallen Thorin is removed from the battle with the Orcs by the giant eagle.
The scenes are certainly not identical, but there are a number of elements that echo between the two. The fallen hero hanging limply in the grasp of his bearers and the imagery of winged rescuers are strikingly similar to me. The image of the rescuing eagles flying into the rising sun can probably be read as a foreshadowing that for Thorin, unlike the dead Sarpedon, all is not lost. In fact, if we play the film scene out further, to the carrock where the eagle releases Thorin, we might also see a similarity between Hermes, in his role as Psychopompos (bearer of souls), who will lead Sarpedon to the Elysian Fields – where Greek heroes go in death, and Gandalf, who will lead Thorin back to life by means of his magic. I doubt Peter Jackson had this ancient scene in mind when he crafted his film, but I find the comparison rather interesting.
So there it is, installment 1. Thoughts?