useless

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blue peacock in the zoo • thessaloniki


“Remember that the most beautiful things in the world are the most useless; peacocks and lilies for instance”. 
John Steinbeck

Peacock, the bird with the large fan of colorful feathers, usually opens its tail to attract peahen’s attention. His bright colored feathers with the characteristic eye had always impressed people. Peacocks and its feathers had become a symbol in art and religion from ancient times and it had combined both positive and negative connotations. 

In ancient Greece, peacock was goddess Hera’s bird, the wife of Zeus, who was well known not only for her power and pride, but also for her jealousy – not without reason due to Zeus’ flirty adventures. In west art, especially in Renaissance’s paintings, peacock symbolized eternity and eternal life; it usually appeared in paintings depicting the Nativity. It was also referring to pride, like in the allegoric Carpaccio’s painting, Young Knight in a Landscape. By its negative aspect, it was interpreted as lust and flattery.

Peacock’s exaggerate and provoking beauty will always create ambiguous emotions and thoughts in arts and culture. 

References
Cohen Simona, Animals as Disguised Symbols in Renaissance Art, Brill, 2008. 
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