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The Core Curriculum

Ape with Skull, by Hugo Rheinhold, c. 1893 CE.

Contemplating skulls as a meditation on mortality has a long history in European culture, most famously in Shakespeare’s Hamlet graveyard scene (“Alas, poor Yorick!”).  Hugo Rheinhold’s chimp is a scientist, however, sitting on a book labeled “Darwin” and holding calipers to measure the human skull he holds.   At his feet, a Bible is open to a torn page reading “Eritis sicut deus,” the first words of the serpent’s promise to Eve: if you eat the forbidden fruit, “you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” What message do you think this complex imagery is meant to convey? 


via Wikimedia Commons.

Artistic Response
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