Hans Holbein's The Ambassadors

painted in 1533 (National Gallery, London)


In ancient times a broken lute string
was a traditional symbol
of death and decay
Apparently, the ancients were easily depressed
or there was a vicious lute string monopoly
oppressing the people.

there weren't that many good lutes, so people said:
"Look, if you're just
going to paint the damn thing,
how come you can't use the broken lute?"

And took the good one out to go visit their
girl, ...or boy

probably the broken lute string symbolized
a really hot date gone bad,

when everything was moving along quite nicely,
until one silly string
and you could never get the mood back.

After all,
what better
symbol of death and decay could there be,
than having to go home by
yourself holding a broken lute?

Elas Giordano 1995

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