Moonday’s Heroic Hunk: The Gallic Chieftain

Hey, it’s Moonday and I promised “The Gallic Chieftain” as our Heroic Hunk in History this week.   Like our “Dying Gaul” from last week, “The Gallic Chieftain” which is in Rome’s Capitoline Museum is a Roman copy of a third century BC bronze group that commemorates the victory of King Attalus of Pergamon over a Gallic tribe. While the Greeks admired the Gauls as fierce warriors, they looked down on them as barbarians.  Erecting this group was more a case of “look who we beat, aren’t we great.”
     The couple is the centerpiece of the original bronze group which sat on a dais and could be viewed “in the round.” The sculptor portrays realistically the features of the foreign Gauls with their long, bushy hair and disctinctive features. The chieftain who is in the prime of life (life expectacy was well below 40) drives a sword into his chest after having killed his own wife (There’s a stab wound below her left arm.) indicating that they preferred death to defeat and slavery. Given the look on his face, the chieftain would probably be flipping off the Greeks if he had a hand free.  The Gauls accepted suicide as an honorable choice.  How much do we really understand about cultures that are so profoundly different from our own?  Our own culture would not view their actions as “romantic”  or admirable.  As you can see, fig leaves were voted out.  Next week, “The Drunken Satyr.” Rita VF

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4 Responses

  1. I love to hear about the cultures of the past. Comparing their actions and beliefs to our own enables us to see ourselves more clearly.
    Take this suicide for instance, I hope that I would be brave enough to do the same. Our country is at war, and if I was given the choice of death or being used to further their cause, I would prefer death. Some may not agree, but that is my opinion.

  2. Thanks for another great post. I actually told my son the other day that I don’t like post apocalyptic movies because I would rather be one of the dead than live through that. So, I can see the Gaul’s POV.

  3. Give me liberty or give me death. . . Seems like I remember that being a rallying cry, and fairly recently. The sense of and need for freedom is the one piece of the human psyche that can’t be crushed. It has helped entire races endure immeasurable hardships.

    Being of Clan descent, Isle of Mull, Scottland complete with an ancient standing stone circle on family property(our motto is “Vincere Vel Mori”–translating to “To Conquer or Die!”) I feel an unexplainable affinity with this couple, and can only appreciate that he made sure his wife was “safe” from enemy hands before turning to himself.

    That’s love of the truest sort by any estimate.

    I salute your hero this week, Rita. He stirs my soul.

  4. I am loving the historical hunks! Your Gallic Chieftain’s back is right up there with Sawyer’s — and I am a true connoisseur of fine looking male backs! And what nobility of spirit — a true hero in every sense.

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