DELPHI APOLLO
Oils on Linen 140 X 140 cm
2008/2018 Artists©Shaun Herron

“Shaun Herron’s painting of Delphi is multi-leveled and intense. Nebulous figures, like divine spirits, float above the oracular temple, as if they formed part of some vision, adding considerably to the overall illusionary effect. The scene could represent the sphere of our 6th sense carrying the viewer away, to a different universe where the immaterial can be visible, if only to gifted individuals.The mystic ambience is equally served by the ecstatic and -at the same time- solemn figures. Herron’s Muses are rendered transparent, nearly immaterial (as spirits would have been) and yet so vivid and earthly – a perfect embodiment of art and genius, exactly of what they protected and represented. Nature’s participation also draws from classical Greek vase-painting. In all probability Shaun has never seen the respective sherds (some not yet exhibited) but subconsciously and intuitively he walks on the trail of archaic masters. He depicts birds flying low and observing the rite, thus encompassing allegory and physical motion.
Herron’s work is refined, elaborate and inspired but especially his zest to render it as accurately historically as possible demonstrates a respectful scholarly attitude, without suppressing his artistic approach. On these grounds, Herron is clearly influenced by classical masters. His painting of Delphi finds a place among interpretations that help  someone visually reconstruct and relate to the site.”
Dr Elena C. Partida
[previously Curator of Delphi Antiquities – site/museum] Archaeologist MA, PhD/Art Historian. Eternally grateful for her appreciation of the project and insight as to my aims, kind letters with invaluable information, supplements to the text and general encouragement towards accuracy. For assistance with both my first 2008 release and the latest 2018 version.

This evolving rejuvenation of Delphi through Apollo is based on various reconstructions and descriptions of The Temple and Sanctuary of Apollo. Bear in mind that it is a surreal artists impression based on historical information. The surrounding features in the painting are derived from different periods in Delphi’s rich history and the mythological extracts are subjectively characterized. Illustrated archeological aspects are selected from a breadth of time in order to illustrate the story of the temple.
The animals are associated with Apollo and the nine muses dedicated to Him:
 Polymnia, Euterpe, Calliope, Terpsichore, Thalia, Clio, Erato, Melpomene, Urania

Anyone who has danced freely, spoken poetically, contemplated the essence of being, or played an instrument with grace and beauty knows the feeling of Apollo and loves the same divinity as the Oracle.

Pilgrims line the procession in my depiction. As with Mecca today, they would have ventured there from far and wide, bringing experience and information. At the top of the Sacred Way rising within the sanctuary walls, the message to all on the temple of Apollo was:
Gnothi Sauton
 “Know Thyself
and
Meden Agan 
“Nothing in Excess”.
I have shown this timeless wisdom as it would have been read in ancient Greek. [There was no spacing between words.]

Except for a brief moment in it’s astonishing ancient history, during a time of invasion, the “eternal fire” was kept burning continuously for almost 1600 years, until the arrival of the new God of Christianity that signaled the death knoll of the ancient Greek oracle shrines.

The original painting belongs to my daughter and is NOT FOR SALE.
[One of her names is Delphi and she is featured in the painting, drawing your attention into the scene at hand.]
50 X 50cm PRINTS ON CANVAS (signed with a personal stamp) available on demand.


SOTERIA
Delphi 279BC

Oils on canvas 120 X 120cm
2020 Artists©Shaun Herron

Brennus [The name ‘Brennos’ may denote ‘battle lord’] the Raven King of a migrating Galation/Gaul/Celt/Keltoi tribe succeeded in crossing his whole army deep into Greece, where he had a number of victories before branching off with an army of 30,000 strong to sack Delphi, the major oracle and treasure house of Greece, as well as the sanctuary of Apollo – A bad move, to be beset by calamities and terrors.

Accounts differ as to whether the Celts managed to sack the sanctuary or were driven off at the pass.
I have depicted a combination of the traditional greek descriptions, where it is said that Brennos and his men were attacked on Mount Parnassus as they were overtaken by a violent thunderstorm [The rage of Zeus] accompanied by thunderbolts that set soldiers aflame in a heavenly cacophony that made it impossible to maneuver or even hear orders. Sudden earthquakes cracked and splintered opening bottomless crags from under the Celts, along with showers of great stones from the mountainsides, as armoured dead heroes. like Phylacus, a local hero of Delphi, appeared like ghosts; supported by Apollo, Athena and Artemis to defend what is sacred. The gods of Olympus had revealed their wrath to the invaders.

Meanwhile, in the midst of a forming snowstorm, two white Hyperborean Maidens descended, as if of the snow; thereby deepening the supernatural onslaught of fear that harassed the Gauls. The night that followed was frosty, and the local Phocians, using guerilla tactics, hid while attacking from both sides with javelins and arrows, sending the Celtic ranks into disorder. Despite the onslaught, the Celts fought remarkably well. Some drew out from their wounds the spears, by which they had been hit, and threw them at the Greeks or used them in close fighting. But that night, battered and exhausted, a panic fell on the camp, as the Gauls divided into factions and fought amongst themselves. The Gauls envisioned enemies on all sides and in the darkness and in the confusion Celt killed Celt. Many died before some measure of order could be restored.

At sunrise the Greeks came on from Delphi, making a frontal attack with the exception of the Phocians, who, being more familiar with the district, descended through the snow down the precipitous parts of Parnassus, and surprised the Celts in their rear, shooting them down.
Brennus, wounded and disheartened, ordered the Celts to once again fall back and kill their own wounded who were unable to retreat. They rallied, but the Greeks chased the bedraggled Celts back to Heraclea, almost where they started. Soundly defeated with Brennos, dying from his wounds, taking his own life by drinking un-watered wine.
Soon after, the Greek forces repelled the invasion force for good.
Very few Celts ever returned back to their own lands, but a split off group of the original band went on the form the land of Galatia in the east.

Shaun Herron reserves all reproduction rights and copyright for this piece.
PAINTING FOR SALE [Price on demand]

DIONYSIC MAENADS

Oils on canvas 100 X 100cm
2019 Artists©Shaun Herron

Many still know of Delphi and of The Sanctuary of Apollo,
yet in ancient times Greeks also knew that Apollo shared the site with his younger brother, Dionysos. Every year at the onset of winter, Apollo abandoned Delphi to spend three months dwelling in the land of the Hyperboreans far to the north. It was a country of eternal youth and beauty, where old age and disease were completely unknown. Meanwhile, the upper part of the sanctuary and Mount Parnassus were given over to the followers of the god of wine and revelry. The contrast with the cult of the calm, rational Apollo could not be greater.

The Maenades or “raving ones” worked themselves into a frenzy through wine and dance while they roamed over the hillside in bands in slow rythmic dance, dressed in fawn skins and wearing ivy wreaths on their heads. Some carried a thyrsus, a long stick wrapped in vine leaves. In their intoxicated states, they believed they could uproot trees and draw milk or honey by stamping their thyrus on the ground. What followed were sensational descriptions of wild, orgiastic sexual interaction and hunting of wild animals for blood sacrifice. Some say the animals were torn to pieces and eaten raw; while others say the same fate awaited any men they happened to come across. And men could but assume.

The earliest cult images of Dionysus show a mature, bearded, robed male holding a fennel staff or thyrsus. I have tried to depict the later version of a beardless, sensuous, androgynous youth. His central cult imagery usually shows his triumphant, disorderly arrival or return, as if from some place beyond the borders of the known and civilized.
His procession (thiasus) is made up of both maenads and bearded satyrs [male nature spirits known as lovers of wine, music, dancing, and women].

The cult of Dionysus is also a “cult of the souls”; his maenads feed the dead through blood-offerings, and he acts as a divine communicant between the living and the dead. He is sometimes categorised as a dying-and-rising god or in a procession that followed as a cult model for the followers of his Dionysian Mysteries. Dionysus is represented by city religions as the protector of those who do not belong to conventional society and he thus symbolizes the chaotic, dangerous and unexpected, everything which escapes human reason and which can only be attributed to the unforeseeable action of the gods.

Shaun Herron reserves all reproduction rights and copyright for this piece.

PAINTING FOR SALE [Price on demand]

Leave a comment