Art, Psychology

Quis ut Deus?

‘Am I more like God than you because I am stronger?’

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… It was, it seems, the Romans, that most militaristic of empire-building peoples

who first insisted that St Michael should be seen, that is, depicted,

in a military light, the Commander-in-Chief of an ‘Army of Angels’, as it were.

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After Constantine’s defeat of Licineus at the Battle of Adrianople AD 324

which the Emperor attributed to the Archangel Michael he had a painting

of the Saint slaying, a Dragon commissioned for the Michaelion,

a Christian Sanctuary nearby, which was previously dedicated to healing waters.

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This lead to the now-standard iconography of Archangel Michael

as a ‘Warrior Saint’, who slays a single-headed Dragon.

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All empires rely, for their dominance to a certain extent,

on military prowess but the militaristic mindset of the Romans

infiltrated every aspect of their culture,

and their newly acquired religion, alas, was to be no different…

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In following this route the Holy Roman Empire

made the same mistake that extreme Islamists of today make

when they perpetrate terrorist acts in the name of ‘Jihad’,

that is, they confused the edicts of an inner conflict with its outward projection.

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Or was it just a straightforward case of demonising ‘the opposition’,

and are these the same thing anyway?