Bruegel Sloth 1557

Since we have many folks these days living off the government, taking all kinds of subsidies (and many refusing to work unless they get the job they want), and even you and I perhaps know the experience of not applying ourselves and being downright lazy (ok – I know this at least) I thought Sloth would be a timely illustration to present. Truly this might be considered the most haunting and shattering of Bruegel’s 7 sins series. click to enlarge
Here, Sloth herself, older and uglier than the other allegories, sleeps open mouthed in a landscape of delay, decay and ultimate impotence. She reposes on her beastly counterpart, a sleeping ass. A monster behind her adjusts her pillow. Around her crawl huge snails. Even the hill of sloth is soft as shown by a winged demon sawing into it at left. From the right a stork beaked monster in monks garb drags a sinner too indolent to leave his bed; he eats as he lies. To the right in a shell like structure mingling building and tree, naked sinners and monsters sleep around a table. A couple lie together in bed behind a curtain. A demon leers around it as he seeks to draw the sleeping girl inside. Sloth or excess leisure encourages lechery. Dice on the table to the left refer perhaps to gambling by lazy time wasters. Just above center a squatting giant built into a mill enacts a proverb to many a culture: ” he is too lazy to poo”. The faceless midgets behind him are inducing a bowel movement. In Flemish below the print a rhyme loosely translated reads:

Sloth weakens men, until at length,
Their fibres dried, they lack all strength.

In short, sloth, far from resting, recuperating and rejuvenating, wasted a man away, renders him impotent and good for nothing. He becomes like a slug, a slave of the stupefied tyrant Dame Desidia.
HIGH RES for printing 2865 X 2160

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