The Devil Trying to Disrupt and Discourage the Heroic Vitalist

This Albrecht Durer drawing from 1513 made me think of John Calvin (who was born in 1509). I like Durer’s depiction of the devil on the left side of the drawing, with his Medusa-echoing snake hair and taunting display of an hour glass. I also like the faith warrior’s high Apollo mode, his eyes calm and focused, along with his horse’s eyes, on something ahead of them in the distance. And what’s up with that goat monster with a spear coming up from the rear? Lesson: the exceptional person of character and vision faces many distractions and pains in the ass:

devil discouraging the heroic vitalist durer 1513


Something else I notice in this drawing: the heroic vitalist, despite his smooth sheen of armor and horse, and his city set in a clearing upon a sunny hill, nevertheless is, while away from the safe confines of his city, persistently threatened with engulfment by a thicket of dry and thorny plant life and pursuing horny animals. This is rocky Dionysian nature, sharp in branch and claw. But then we’re not talking about a metaphor for Afghanistan, are we?

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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