Rebus, 2006

Rebus, 2006
Acrylic on MDF, shelf

5” x 16” x 3”
 

 

 

Rebus is derived from the Histories of the Greek historian Herodotus (5th century BCE).

 

In his writings, he states that as the Persians were invading Scythian lands their armies retreated and sent forth a herald with gifts of a bird, frog, mouse and five arrows. When the Persians inquired as to their order and the meaning of the symbols, the herald stated that if they were truly wise, then they would be able to decipher the meaning on their own. The Persian Dareios thought that the Scythians were surrendering, while his comrade, Gobryas, thought that they were an omen of certain destruction if they did not immediately evacuate the lands.

 

This story illustrates an example of the historical effects of ambiguity in personal translation of abstract messages.