Monday Morning Surrealism

the temptation of st anthony

Hieronymus Bosch, left-wing panel to "The Temptation of St. Anthony," ca. 1500

 Whenever I look at this Bosch, I find myself composing a history in my head about the demon on ice-skates in the lower right corner. I name Naberius, after a spirit mentioned in Johan Weyer’s Pseudomonarchia Daemonum. Weyer tells us the devil as gifted in rhetoric, but hoarse of voice.

I imagine my Naberius a demon of poverty. He is the genius of wonderous yet impossible (and perhaps illegal) schemes for wealth which can only end in ruination. Ten times a day he skates to the center of icy lake at the bottom of Florentine hell to consult the three faces of Lucifer. After conference, Naberius returns to Earth with three pieces of unsound financial advice (one from each satanic head), which he whispers into the ears of men and women.

He does so to maintain his own ecosystem. It would be hyperbole to say Naberius feeds on poverty, but his diet does consist soely of  porridge stretched out with sawdust, carrion dead before its prime and buried in cheap pine, and ash from the lowest quality coal.

Naberius is the older sibling of Mammon, spirit of wealth and lord of the Earth, who himself is elder brother to the demon of the middle class, Ennui.

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