Title: “Battle between the Lydians and Medes Arrested by the Total Eclipse of the Sun, 28th May, B.C. 585”
Total Eclipses of the Sun by Mabel Loomis Todd. Boston, MA: Roberts Brothers, 1894.
How do we change ourselves? Where do we find moments for reflection? What are the human actions which only natural phenomena inspire?
While researching eclipses for their Open Sesame Salon, Jed Hancock-Brainerd and Rebecca Noon came across this image in Mabel Loomis Todd’s Total Eclipses of the Sun.
The illustration reproduced in Todd’s book from a “well known French source” dramatically envisions the Lydians and Medes so overwhelmed by an eclipse at totality, that the warring factions seemingly give up their efforts to destroy one another. Todd writes of the eclipse and scene: “So afflicted were the contending parties…that they ceased fighting, and at once concluded a peace, cemented by two marriages.”
The author acknowledges in her work what other historians fail to corroborate in this event (as predicted by Thales of Miletus and first recorded by Herodotus). She even goes on to write that the image itself is “inserted more for picturesqueness than for precision”. However, it certainly does seem to invoke the mystical imagination and the possibility of change associated with many early eclipses.
Discovered by: Jed Hancock-Brainerd and Rebecca Noon, co-directors, Strange Attractor Theatre Co.