Dancing With Death

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Examples of fresco at Bern Gemmell Add f.

As Gundersheimer remarks, the 15th Century was a time of crop failure, climate change, pestilence, the Black Death and the Hundred Years' War. The mortality rate was significantly high and the average man could only expect to live to Public executions were commonplace and, unlike today, a person could not expect to reach adulthood without having seen a dead body.


On one hand, it offers the consolation that regardless of one's status in the mortal life, all are equal before death. It is possible that in bleak times the Dance extended an invitation to laugh at death and an encouragement to live in the moment. Yet it also constitutes a stark reminder of impending death, and serves a didactic function in reminding the viewer to live and die well. As these two plates show, the Dance could serve as a momento mori in an age when death could strike at any time.

James Clark concludes that in classical times the memento mori maxim was an incitement to "eat, drink and be merry;" yet in the Middle Ages, it became a warning to live a purposeful life. Memento Mori frontispiece plate Gemmell 14 Yet the interest in the portrayal of death, and the continued reinvention of the Dance of Death in centuries that had long-since forgotten the famines and plagues of the Middle Ages, ultimately demonstrates the universality of man's preoccupation with death and mortality.

The following pages explore how this medieval theme found its way into print and continued to thrive through the ages. Part of the Library and University Services. Please note that these pages are from our old pre website; the presentation of these pages may now appear outdated and may not always comply with current accessibility guidelines.


Go to the next section: Holbein's Dance of Death. Origins of the Dance of Death. The crossing of the border into enemy territory was like dancing with death.

Dance with Death (1992) full movie

You are dancing with death in your effort to cross that narrow ledge. References in periodicals archive?

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Summary: They say that motorbike riders are dancing with death , but how about motorbikes dancing with each other? Crashed motorbikes 'dance' round racetrack.

Danse Macabre - Wikipedia

In his book Dancing With Death , Reg, who is trained in psychology, has attempted to journey inside the head of the killer. There is a rather macabre irony to the fact that Mark Stevenson's first musical, written with old school friend and fellow University of Birmingham student David Hume is called Dancing with Death.

Dancing with Death came together from an idea for a plot that David had and a song Mark had written in memory of his grandfather. With its grim title and spooky characters, Dancing With Death would seem to have more in common with the much darker Sweeney Todd, the Sondheim sing-athon which has just been introduced to a whole new audience thanks to Johnny Depp's Oscar-nominated turn as the demon barber.