Peasant of the Danube, 1881
A German peasant went to Rome as an ambassador for his people during the reign of Marcus Aurelius (161-180) to tell the Senate of the cruelty and injustice of life under Roman subjugation. Despite the peasant’s uncouth appearance, the eloquence of his speech earned the senators’ respect.
Jean de La Fontaine described the peasant as ragged and hairy, like an unkempt bear, but Moreau gives him the Grecian features of his mythological heroes. One critic compared the peasant to Christ, offering himself up for the redemption of the world, a young goat at his feet representing sacrifice. Moreau explained that the hourglass shows ‘that time is running out both for the gathering and for mankind.’