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Exiting Olympus

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Many paintings are visions brought forth from the work of impassioned writers who would never trade verse for paint. “The one God comes to drive out the many gods,” a single line from The Hollow Hills by Mary Stewart inspired this mural.

A small office little more than ten feet square is the canvas for an extraordinary exodus. The Greek gods of Mount Olympus in golden splendor are being asked to leave the premises. The time of man and the advent of the one God is coming. Depictions of the Greek personifications of summer, fall, winter, spring, and each equinox escort the solemn host to a new horizon, a book of mythology. The gods look in earnest at the doorway in hopes of catching a glimpse of their replacement.

The book of mythology to which they are led is held open by those writers and philosophers who brought them alive for us. Homer and Hesiod hold the book firmly, gazing in awe at the heavenly procession. Socrates’ support is falling away as he overhears a conversation between Plato and Sappho. Plato is comparing her melodies to that of a goddess, perhaps Athena’s musings brought to earth. At Plato’s back stands his pupil Alexander the Great, with sword in hand. He gazes across the room at his mirror, Mars. At Alexander’s feet lies a sleeping giant, the defeated Philistine Goliath. His conqueror King David sits above him, enthroned as Zeus once was. A man has truly defeated a god, and thus humanity has lost the need for a pantheon of gods.

A subtle movement in the painting brings to a close the fading power of the Olympians. Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, mirror of Athena and Aphrodite, simply turns her back to them. Egypt becomes the unwitting seedbed of the coming of Christ. At the foot of Egypt we see the reflection of the god to come in the mirror of John the Baptist. He gazes mournfully at the doorway which one day the Christ will pass through.

The photos published of this work, I’m sorry to say are not the best. They are however the only sample available of the complete work. Much of the mural remains but a large section has been overpainted.