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Cultural Responses to the Persian WarsAntiquity to the Third Millennium$
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Emma Bridges, Edith Hall, and P. J. Rhodes

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199279678

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199279678.001.0001

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‘People Like Us’ in the Face of History: Cormon’s Les Vainqueurs de Salamine

‘People Like Us’ in the Face of History: Cormon’s Les Vainqueurs de Salamine

(p.355) 15 ‘People Like Us’ in the Face of History: Cormon’s Les Vainqueurs de Salamine
Cultural Responses to the Persian Wars

Clemence Schultze

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the French academic painter Fernand Cormon's Les Vainqueurs de Salamine (1887). It shows how the Persian Wars chimed at this time with a mood of nationalist revanche and military reform. The War Minister General Boulanger enjoyed huge popularity, confronting Germany and passing measures to render the French army a citizen militia on ancient lines; Themistocles himself in the painting resembles Boulanger on his famous curvetting horse. It is little surprise that Cormon's contemporaries read the work as showing the Greeks as ‘people like us’, in their vulnerable bodily reality, their fervent patriotism, and in their supportive womenfolk. The Persian Wars theme here expresses through history painting the aspirations of ordinary members of a community at a critical turning point of world history.

Keywords:   Persian Wars, Fernand Cormon, Les Vainqueurs de Salamine, Themistocles, General Boulanger

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