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MARS SETTING OUT FOR WAR.
This allegorical conception is truly poetical, and one of those which characterize, in a particular manner, the prolific genius of Rubens. We cannot better convey to our readers the idea of this great painter, than by detailing the explanation of the subject which he himself has given in one of his letters.
“ The principal personage is Mars, who is seen leaving the temple of Janus. The god of war, armed with his sword and shield, threatens the people with the most fatal disasters; he resists the entreaties of Venus, who, accompanied by the Loves, endeavours to retain him by the lenderest caresses. The fury Alecto, holding her torch, conducts Mars to battle. She is preceded by two monsters, indicative of plague and famine, the inseparable companions of war. A female is extended upon the earth ; beside her is a broken lute; this is Harmony, incompatible with the disorders which war produces. Not far from this figure is a woman holding her infant in her arms, signifying that war stifles the warmest sentiments, and restrains the expressions of maternal tenderness. The genius of architecture, bearing her attributes, is overthrown. This announces that the monuments erected in peace, for the ornament of cities and the utility of mankind, are ruined and destroyed by the devastation of war. Mars, the enemy of letters and of the arts, tramples under foot a book and some drawings. Some arrow are thrown on the ground near to the caduceus, the symbol of peace; united, they presented an emblem of concord, but the cord by which they were joined together is broken. The female following Venus, absorbed in grief, is Europe, exposed unfortunately, during a long series of years, to outrage, rapine, and misery. She is characterized by the globe, surmounted by a cross, designating the christian world, which is borne by a little angel.”