Ancient To Modern: The Strong Man (2)

I originally intended to cover this subject in one post, but I discovered some images and a story line from the comics which incited me to mount my high horse. In the interest of relative brevity, I had to cut myself off. So here goes, and let’s see if I can honestly get the rest done this week. As you may remember, I wrote about Heracles last week.

Samson

Contrary to popular belief, the strength of this Old Testament character from the book of Judges was not in his hair. His birth was the result of a promise made by God to a man named Manoah and his barren wife. Included were instructions for raising the boy. He was to be a Nazirite, and part of his vow included not cutting his hair.

Samson’s strength is described as coming from God, whose Spirit would come over him in time of need as a result of his Nazirite vow. Notice the similarity of this painting of one of his feats with a painting of Heracles from last week’s post.

Samson's youth (1891) by Leon Bonnat.
Samson’s youth (1891) by Leon Bonnat.

So Samson’s weakness was his love of pagan women. His love of one named Delilah ultimately led to a betrayal of his vow (manifested in the cutting of his hair). He was captured by Phillistine soldiers, blinded, and sentenced to slave labor.

Samson and Delilah by Anthony van Dyck.
Samson and Delilah by Anthony van Dyck.
Samson and Delilah (1630) by Anthony van Dyck.
Samson and Delilah (1630) by Anthony van Dyck.
The Blinded Samson (1912) by Lovis Corinth.
The Blinded Samson (1912) by Lovis Corinth.
Samson in the Treadmill by Carl Heinrich Bloch.
Samson in the Treadmill by Carl Heinrich Bloch.

After a due period of penance and the growth of his hair, he was brought forth for the sport of his captors in the temple of their god, Dagon, and, of course, he brought the house down.

The Death of Samson (possibly 17th Century) by an unknown artist; J. Paul Getty Museum.
The Death of Samson (possibly 17th Century) by an unknown artist; J. Paul Getty Museum.

This is a great character in a great story.

Okay, I give up. I promise I’ll cover three modern characters next week.

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18 thoughts on “Ancient To Modern: The Strong Man (2)”

    1. Thank you. I can’t claim credit for any great insights, but I was able to listen to some knowledgeable speakers over the years. Still, isn’t that a classic story in the best sense of mythology? And that need not automatically mean that it isn’t true.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I think it is an amazing story. Too often the really great Bible stories (I gently hold them out to be true) suffer under the weight of too many “great insights”, and the beauty of the original story is perverted. I appreciate the fact that you let that beauty shine through.

        I’m loving the work you are doing on Wonder Woman also. I have a strong female lead in my own fantasy series, in part based on Spenser’s Britomart. It is fascinating to see how these characters have changed over the years.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Thanks, Robert. My oldest son is preparing audio files for me for the first eight chapters, and she features prominently in them. I hope to have them up in the next few weeks, in case you are interested in giving a listen.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. Back awhile one of my grandchildren said to me, “Pop Pop, the man, the myth, the legend. Being at the age I am, I cannot recall what the reference was to. Did I mention I’ve been bald for 20 plus years also? Into whose eyes you appear that way, is a good feeling however. No muscles bulging here.

    “Judges” was Samson’s spokesman, I’ll leave my legacy to my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. God bless them. In the eyes of babes.

    Again the senses were stimulated by you professor, ’tis a shame Samson lost one of his.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love the illustrations/ paintings here. I have an old Masonic family Bible, that belonged to my Grandfather.

    About halfway through that Bible is a section of full page images of great, religious- themed paintings from throughout the ages.

    These images mesmerized me as a child. One of them was the Bloch painting you’ve depicted here. Great, I love it.

    Liked by 1 person

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