Restoration Intern Mythic Rebirth

16 July 2015

‘And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith’.

-Book of Judges 15:15

Today the statue originally known as Samson and the Philistine is restored to the Grecian Valley, a landscape that was once enriched with acquaintances from the mythical antiquity of Hercules and the pastoral dream of the late eighteenth century. The tranquil pasture land, a testament to ‘Capability’ Brown who designed this, the first man-made valley in Britain, conceived its own world, and was based on its own ethos of creation: everything is possible.

Lord Cobham, the owner of the estate at the time, interpreted this through a group of statues depicting the twelve labours of Hercules, to represent the notion of victory through physical combat, martial strength and patriotism. This iconography was a fashionable statement of support for the Glorious Revolution and Whig ideology.

Now, the Grecian Valley is a place where Samson and the Philistine can be Hercules and Cacus, the former slaying the fire breathing giant; or indeed Cain and Abel, if the ass’s jaw is mistaken for a rib. Over time the statue has been named after all three, a journey now manifested in its single, still and silent form. All of these myths are reborn at Stowe today, proof that anything really is possible.