What is happening in this messy bed-chamber, and who might these people be? There is even a horse in there; can that get any stranger?
Legend has it that the king, Sardanapalus, after learning of his defeat, ordered his most valuable possessions destroyed and his concubines murdered in front of his own eyes. We can see Delacroix showing some concubines who are begging for mercy. Our quest is not a historical one, unless you want it to be, but how many of these stories have you heard of, or seen, when a king or some kind of leader decides upon his defeat to order the rest of his people to be killed with him? Hitler could have spared the lives of hundreds of thousands of his troops had he surrendered earlier; even after he and everybody else knew he had lost the war. Many things like that still happen.
The usual moral thing we have learned and seen is when a ship is sinking, its captain never abandons it, but in contrast, in many other instances, when the captain cannot be captain anymore, he would want the ship to sink with him.
How devastating can the action of a defeated leader in shame, or to put it simpler and away from politics, how soon can we admit defeat, accept it and move on before we inflict a lot of damage caused only by the futile effort to hold on to a lost cause? Should we keep struggling and fighting anyway? Is our own struggle and suffering reason enough for us to cause misery to other people? Should we just accept defeat and move on? What is the best thing to do in a situation like that, and should other people’s lives or interests count in our calculations, or should we think only of ourselves?
Write a short story, or a poem about what you can discern from this painting and share a link to your story with us here on Danny B. You can be generous and share a link to this writing prompt on your website or your social media.