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Satyr and the Peasant
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More about Satyr and the Peasant

soesterling's picture

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Jordaens’ paintings are known for their moralizing subject matter and this piece is no exception.

He liked the story of the Satyr and the Peasant so much that he and/or his studio created at least seven painted versions of this composition.

So what is the moral of the story? Surprisingly, it's not to avoid inviting a literally horny Satyr (known for seducing and raping milkmaids) to dine with your lusty looking wife.  In this Aesop’s Fable the tables have turned and it is actually the pastoral Peasant who's getting devious. The story goes, that while walking through the country in the cold the Satyr observes the Peasant blowing on his hands to keep them warm. Later they sit down for a meal and the Satyr sees the Peasant blowing on his soup to cool it down. He yells ,“What dark magic is this! I shall not dine with those who blow both hot and cold! To the Devil with thee Satan!” and rushes out.

If this idiom sounds familiar it’s because we still use it today in Katy Perry lyrics and to describe someone who is devious, unreliable, or two-sided; you know, politicians.  In this case Jordaens is trying to point out that man is not to be trusted and that liars and cheats can be found everywhere.  

Jan Steen, another super famous Dutch painter, also painted a version of this story. I guess there is no question that the Dutch masters were hot (and not cold) for Aesop.