The Glass Helmet

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The Vader Project

The discovery of a glass helmet in Heliopoli sparked an entry by the chief archivist on Darth Vader’s connections with Palmer Eldritch. Since there is not much to say about the glass helmet itself, it was decided that an entry on the helmet would entail an examination of the concept of halos and their antecedents in pre-Christian art, notably concerning the god Apollo and Alexander the Great, and ending with an analysis on how their depictions are antecedents for the Statue of Liberty, the reason being that the wearing of the glass helmet, if the sun is shining behind one, creates a brilliant halo effect for the wearer.

Shortly after this decision had been made, a paroxysm of meta-ness occurred, whereupon the chief archivist discovered in a magazine an image of a sculpture in which the artist Wade Lageose took the head of Darth Vader and added the flanges of the Statue of Liberty to it (pictured above).

Such is life (if things are more connected than we know), or not (if connectivity is just an illusion of the mind), and one is referred to such excellent posts concerning coincidence and serendipity on John Crowley’s blog and Nancy Kress’ blog, which, coincidentally, were posted within one week of each other.

On to halos.

(Note: This is not an examination of religion. It is, rather, an interrogation of the question “What are those things sticking out of the Statue of Liberty’s head?”)

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In Greek mythology, the sun was personified as Helios, a handsome god crowned with the shining aureole of the sun. He drove a chariot across the sky each day, drawn by solar bulls or steeds. As time passed, Helios was increasingly identified with the god of light, Apollo. Solar Apollo, with the halo of Helios, was depicted in a Roman floor mosaic in Tunisia in the late second century.

The style of this representation, with lips slightly parted, head tilted, and hair wild and curling, was developed in the third century B.C. to depict Alexander the Great. Alexander the Great’s sculptor, Lysippos, invented the image of man as hero with this style. (And Homer had described a light around the heads of heroes in battle.)

Heliopoli_Full_EX118Antiquities scholar John Romer, in his television program “The Seven Wonders of the World,” examined what the colossus of Rhodes might have looked like. The statue, created by Chares of Lindos, a pupil of Lysippos, does not survive today, but it depicted the god Helios.

In the program, Romer examines a marble head of Helios found on the island of Rhodes. It has holes in the head that must have held pins for the depiction of the rays of a sunburst. Statues of Helios always possessed a sunburst. And the head is in the style of Lysippos’ Alexander, with tilted head, mouth slightly parted, and hair curling and wild.

The halo was incorporated into Christian art sometime in the fourth century. In a catacomb in St. Peter’s in Rome is a mosaic depicting the risen Christ. He rides a chariot, like Helios, and the flaming sun rays of Helios are now depicted as a halo. His head is in the style of Alexander the Great. Helios was born on Dec. 25. We worship on Sunday, the day of Helios.

The Calling of St. Matthew
The Calling of St. Matthew

With the increase of realism in painting during the Renaissance, the halo was often reduced to a thin gold band depicting the outer edges of the nimbus, as seen in¬† Caravaggio’s The Calling of St. Matthew.

The Statue of Liberty in New York wears a crown that holds seven spiked rays representing a nimbus or halo. The seven spikes represent the Seven Seas and seven continents. The Statue of Liberty wears the sunburst of Helios, the god of the colossus of Rhodes.

Inside the Statue of Liberty, inscribed on a plaque, is the poem “The New Colossus.”

There is nothing new under the sun.

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