Fight of the money bags & strong boxes
(click image to enlarge)
this is dated from 1567 by Peter Bruegel. Perhaps a better title might be “the battle of the piggy banks and strong boxes”. After all – the warriors at left are pottery and not bags. This print has been called “a satire on the forces of war and plunder…one of the least complicated subjects by Bruegel to read”. Wealth fights wealth in a mad dehumanized melee. Mammon and murder, now and forever, one and inseparable. In the words of Dr. Barnouw: “All wars are engendered by greed. it is not the poor who make war but the rich who rob each other…Strong boxes and barrels filled…with gold ducats…those are the forces that clash on each battlefield. Below the engraving are three couplets in Latin, and three in Flemish, the latter supplying a rhymed text. Freely translated, the Flemish runs:
Have at it, you chests, pots, and fat piggy banks!-
All for gold and for goods you are fighting in ranks.
If any say different, they are not speaking true –
That’s why we’re resisting the way that we do…
They’re seeking for ways now to drag us all under;
But there’d be no such wars, were there nothing to plunder!
Translation of Latin caption: What riches are, what is a vast heap of yellow metal, a strong-box filled with new coins, among such enticements and ranks of thieves, the fierce hook will indicate to all. Booty makes a thief, ardent zeal serves up every evil, and a pillage suitable for fierce spoils.