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The novel adapts the Mephistopheles/Dr Faustus theme by having the main character Hendrik Höfgen abandon his conscience and continue to act and ingratiate himself with the Nazi Party to keep and improve his job and social position.
The novel portrays actor Hendrik Höfgen's rise from the Hamburger Künstlertheater (Hamburg Artists' Theater) in 1926 to nationwide fame in 1936. Initially, Höfgen flees to Paris on receiving news of the Nazis' rise to power because of his communist past (learning from a friend that he is on a blacklist). A former co-actress from Hamburg, Angelika Siebert, travels to Berlin to convince Lotte von Lindenthal, the girlfriend (and later wife) of a Luftwaffe general to have him pardoned. On returning to Berlin he quickly manages to win over Lotte and her general and with his support has a wonderful career. On obtaining the role of Mephisto in Faust Part One he realizes that he actually made a pact with evil (i.e. Nazism) and lost his humane values (even denouncing his mistress as "Black Venus"). There are situations where Höfgen tries to help his friends or tell the prime minister about concentration camp hardships, but he is always concerned not to lose his Nazi patrons.
The plot's bitter irony is that the protagonist's fondest dream is to be Germany's greatest actor playing Hamlet and Mephisto but to achieve this dream he sells his soul and realises too late that he is not playing the Mephisto but the Faustus role; it is the Nazi leader having a major role in the film (modeled on Hermann Göring) who is the real Mephisto.
Mephisto (automaton), a chess-playing pseudo-automaton Mephisto (chess computer),
a line of chess computers sold by Hegener & Glaser
Before its current usage, alma mater was an honorific title for various Latin mother goddesses, especially Ceres or Cybele, and later in Catholicism for the Virgin Mary.
Although alma (nourishing) was a common epithet for Ceres, Cybele, Venus, and other mother goddesses, it was not frequently used in conjunction with mater in classical Latin. In the Oxford Latin Dictionary, the phrase is attributed to Lucretius' De rerum natura, where it is used as an epithet to describe an earth goddess:
We are all sprung from that celestial seed,
all of us have same father, from whom earth,
the nourishing mother, receives drops of liquid moisture
After the fall of Rome, the term came into Christian liturgical usage in association with the Virgin Mary. "Alma Redemptoris Mater" is a well-known 11th century antiphon devoted to Mary.
Epigraphs from the Badajoz region associate the goddess with the Roman Proserpina or Persephone which would make her a goddess presiding over Spring and seasonality, echoing the "reborn" derivation of the name.
due to her mythical connections with Pluto (Proserpina was the wife of Pluto)
Atecina, Ataegina, Ategina, Adaecina, Adegina
Trebaruna's cult was located in the cultural area of Gallaecia and Lusitania (in the territory of modern Galicia (Spain) and Portugal). Her name could be derived from the Celtic *trebo (home) and *runa (secret, mystery), suggesting a protector or protectress of property, home and families.
She and her horses might also have been leaders of the soul in the after-life ride, with parallels in Rhiannon of the Mabinogion. The worship of Epona, "the sole Celtic divinity ultimately worshipped in Rome itself", was widespread in the Roman Empire between the first and third centuries AD; this is unusual for a Celtic deity, most of whom were associated with specific localities.
In an episode preserved in a remark of Pausanias, an archaic Demeter Erinys (Vengeful Demeter) too had also been a Great Mare, who was mounted by Poseidon in the form of a stallion and foaled Arion and the Daughter who was unnamed outside the Arcadian mysteries. Demeter was venerated as a mare in Lycosoura in Arcadia into historical times.
the Celtic goddess of rebirth, transformation, and inspiration.
Awen is a Welsh, Cornish and Breton word for "(poetic) inspiration". In the Welsh tradition, awen is the inspiration of the poet bards; or, in its personification, Awen is the inspirational muse of creative artists in general: the inspired individual (often a poet or a soothsayer) is described as an awenydd. Emma Restall Orr, founder and former head of The Druid Network, defines awen as 'flowing spirit' and says that 'Spirit energy in flow is the essence of life'.
White horses have a special significance in the mythologies of cultures around the world. They are often associated with the sun chariot, with warrior-heroes, with fertility (in both mare and stallion manifestations), or with an end-of-time saviour, but other interpretations exist as well. Both truly white horses and the more common grey horses, with completely white hair coats, were identified as "white" by various religious and cultural traditions.
"In Memoriam A.H.H." or simply "In Memoriam" is a poem by the British poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, completed in 1849.
It contains some of Tennyson's most accomplished lyrical work, and is an unusually sustained exercise in lyric verse. It is widely considered to be one of the great poems of the 19th century.
The original title of the poem was "The Way of the Soul", and this might give an idea of how the poem is an account of all Tennyson's thoughts and emotions as he grieves over the death of a close friend.
He views the cruelty of nature and mortality in light of materialist science and faith. Owing to its length and its arguable breadth of focus, the poem might not be thought an elegy or a dirge in the strictest formal sense.
Memento mori (Latin: "remember that you have to die") is the medieval Latin Christiantheory and practice of reflection on mortality, especially as a means of considering the vanity of earthly life and the transient nature of all earthly goods and pursuits.
It is related to the ars moriendi ("The Art of Dying") and similar literature. Memento mori has been an important part of ascetic disciplines as a means of perfecting the character by cultivating detachment and other virtues, and by turning the attention towards the immortality of the soul and the afterlife.
In art, memento mori are artistic or symbolic reminders of mortality. In the European Christian art context, "the expression [...] developed with the growth of Christianity, which emphasized Heaven, Hell, and salvationof the soul in the afterlife".
Plato's Phaedo, where the death of Socrates is recounted, introduces the idea that the proper practice of philosophy is "about nothing else but dying and being dead".
The Stoics were particularly prominent in their use of this discipline, and Seneca's letters are full of injunctions to meditate on death.
The Stoic Epictetus told his students that when kissing their child, brother, or friend, they should remind themselves that they are mortal, curbing their pleasure, as do "those who stand behind men in their triumphs and remind them that they are mortal"
The thought was then utilized in Christianity, whose strong emphasis on divine judgment, Heaven, Hell, and the Salvation of the soul brought death to the forefront of consciousness.
To the Christian, the prospect of death serves to emphasize the emptiness and fleetingness of earthly pleasures, luxuries, and achievements, and thus also as an invitation to focus one's thoughts on the prospect of the afterlife.
Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 7:40, "in all thy works be mindful of thy last end and thou wilt never sin."
This finds ritual expression in the rites of Ash Wednesday, when ashes are placed upon the worshipers' heads with the words, "Remember Man that you are dust and unto dust you shall return."
The most obvious places to look for memento mori meditations are in funeral art and architecture. Perhaps the most striking to contemporary minds is the transi, or cadaver tomb, a tomb that depicts the decayed corpseof the deceased. This became a fashion in the tombs of the wealthy in the fifteenth century, and surviving examples still create a stark reminder of the vanity of earthly riches.
The danse macabre is another well-known example of the memento mori theme, with its dancing depiction of the Grim Reaper carrying off rich and poor alike. This and similar depictions of Death decorated many European churches.
Timepieces were formerly an apt reminder that your time on Earth grows shorter with each passing minute. Public clocks would be decorated with mottos such as ultima forsan("perhaps the last" [hour]) or vulnerant omnes, ultima necat ("they all wound, and the last kills"). Even today, clocks often carry the motto tempus fugit, "time flees"
A version of the theme in the artistic genre of still life is more often referred to as a vanitas, Latin for "vanity". These include symbols of mortality, whether obvious ones such as skulls or more subtle ones such as a flower losing its petals.
Memento mori was the salutation used by the Hermits of St. Paul of France (1620-1633), also known as the Brothers of Death.
Why why should I the World be minding, Therein a World of Evils Finding. Then Farwell World: Farwell thy jarres, thy Joies thy Toies thy Wiles thy Warrs. Truth Sounds Retreat: I am not sorye. The Eternall Drawes to him my heart, By Faith (which can thy Force Subvert) To Crowne me (after Grace) with Glory.
- Thomas Smith
Another manifestation of memento mori is found in the Mexican "Calavera", a literary composition in verse form normally written in honour of a person who is still alive, but written as if that person were dead. These compositions have a comedic tone and are often offered from one friend to another during Day of the Dead.