Boris The Bullfighter

An arresting image from yesterday has floated back into mind: Boris taming the bull:

It’s immensely rich in symbolism, and I haven’t any doubt that Boris himself was completely aware of all its symbolism.

Not least of which is this: Boris is taking the bull by the horns.

take the bull by the horns – definition and synonyms: to deal with a problem in a very direct and confident way, even though there is some risk in doing this

And that’s exactly what Boris is doing with Brexit. It’s what he did last week when he simply expelled 21 rebel Conservative MPs from the party, including two former Chancellors of the Exchequer. If that isn’t taking the bull by the horns, I don’t know what is.

It brings to mind the Minotaur and the bull leaping frescoes in the Palace of Minos.

And Mithras slaying a bull. The Vatican was once a Mithraic temple.

The Egyptian Apis bull.

Spanish Bullfights.

Boris is also associating himself with the farming community. And, oddly enough, I received a letter on the same day from my Conservative MP, who happens to be a farmer, which had a picture of him with a cow (or bull?), which I’ve captured rather badly on my webcam. Perhaps Boris is re-branding the Conservative party with a new Rural Farmer image?

Anyway, I have no doubt that a classical scholar like Boris understands all the rich symbolism of the bull far better than I do. It can’t be an accident that this photo op took place just when Boris was fighting the Remainers in parliament. Which evokes the Labours of Hercules:

The seventh labour was to capture the Cretan Bull… The Bull had been wreaking havoc on Crete by uprooting crops and leveling orchard walls. Hercules snuck up behind the Bull and then used his hands to throttle it (stopping before it was killed), and then shipped it back to Tiryns.

Purging the Conservative party of Remainers was the fifth labour of Hercules: cleaning the Augean stables. And it will of course be a Herculean task to escape from the EU. No wonder Boris is drawing upon the powerful symbol of the bull:

Few symbols in history have signified the raw energies of life itself more potently than the bull. We grab it by the horns to demonstrate our authority over situations; we wave a red flag in its face to show our fearlessness. Since prehistory, the bull’s imagined muscles have clenched tight in our subconscious, like a hand grenade of crude virility waiting to blow.

As the famous Palaeolithic paintings discovered in caves in southwestern France have revealed, when human beings finally began to draw, they drew the bull. Studded with stars and stalking the sky, Taurus’s skull, so we imagine, constellates the heavens above us. When life is booming and the stock market stampedes, it isn’t the ram or bison or woolly mammoth that tramples the doddering bear, but the hulking hustle of the triumphant bull.

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8 Responses to Boris The Bullfighter

  1. flaxensaxon says:

    Interesting times. I live in New Zealand so I’m no longer affected by the vicissitudes and vagaries of British politics. That said, I’m warming to Boris and not just because of his glorious flaxen hair. He seems of the old mould of politicians- colourful and vibrant and a bit eccentric. In comparison, NZ politicians are bland, vapid and limp. If you lumped them together you would have a heaving mass of colourless, odourless dough. Anyway, I will watch the unfolding proceedings with vigour and rabid attention. It has got to be better than watching Kiwi tele which is uniformly shite.

    • RdM says:

      I live in New Zealand too, born here, a few generations ago of ancestral arrivals
      By boat, and some of them boat builders too, to escape from elsewhere.
      Like Boris as well, I wish him well!
      Yes, there’s a lot of ahem crap on NZ TV, but one can still pick out a few gems.
      Difficult, selective picking, sometimes nothing of interest.
      This link can be refreshed, to be up to date at any time:
      It shows the extent of shallow low brow programming and propaganda or news here.
      But there are blogs too, although all even “right-wing” seeming missing the smoking.
      That needs wading into. I’m not quite ready yet.
      Starting to seem like comfy echo chambers, perhaps, so what is to be done?
      Here’s one you may already know of
      (and there are a few sidebar blogs, more beyond.)
      And in general most of the online nz news outlets don’t allow comments.
      If they do, not on contentious issues.
      Sometimes I think I’d like to escape!
      But where to?
      Else stand and fight one’s corner.
      And how?
      Contact in community is a start, surely.

      • flaxensaxon says:

        Hello RdM, Greetings from the sunny Wairarapa. I’m not sure about the ‘gem’s on the tele. I think it sums it all up on the tv guide you sent me. One programme entitled: ‘I killed my BFF’. Most of the rest is tacky reality tele of various formats. I rarely watch the tele as such and only when I’m eating and therefore represent a captive audience as my wife still watches. I do watch a few series on Netflix as an occasional diversion. I find Youtube highly informative and entertaining- the delights of unlimited internet access. Yea, I’m aware of the Kiwi blog and have been known to place the odd comment there. I haven’t been there for a while, but after your reminder, I’ll check it out tomorrow. You should check out my blog- the flaxen Saxon chronicles. A bit of an eclectic mix with a few hot gipsies (gypo) thrown in- Hola!

        Cheers FS.

  2. Frank Davis says:

    Downing Street confirmed that the expected prorogation – or suspension – of Parliament until 14 October would begin at the end of Monday’s sitting.

    It means MPs will not get another chance to vote for an early election until after then, meaning a poll would not be possible until late November at the earliest.

    If I understand this right, it means that today is that last day of business for this parliament

    Guido makes it much clearer.

    Downing Street has confirmed Parliament is to be prorogued after the close of business tonight, with MPs to return on the 14th October for a Queen’s Speech.

    The Queen’s original order allowed Boris to pick any time between today and the 12th. Hilariously, Bercow has to announce the prorogation order in Parliament, which he won’t be too pleased about…

  3. Frank Davis says:

    This is fun:

    Corbyn’s brother publicly humiliates Labour leader in furious rant at Brexit-blocking MPs

    JEREMY CORBYN’s brother has taken aim at the Labour leader for attempting to block a no deal Brexit, saying the party “had not respected” the result of the 2016 referendum.

    In a public attack on his brother’s political party, Piers Corbyn said Labour had not “respected the result of the referendum” and gave his support to Tory leader Boris Johnson. Piers has said that sticking to the October 31 deadline is the “only way” to get a good deal. His comments came after Remain supporting MPs, supported by the Labour Party, pushed through a law to prevent the UK from leaving the bloc without a deal on October 31.

    The 72-year-old Brexiteer took to twitter and said: “What the ** are Labour playing at? One clause in Benn’s bill means that we can only leave EU if EU agree.

    “Five milllion leavers voted Labour at last election I don’t think they’ll vote Labour next time, so much for labour respecting the result of 2016 ref.”

  4. Frank Davis says:

    Oh dear.

    Parliament’s law to block no-deal Brexit given Royal Assent

    • Clicky says:

  5. roobeedoo2 says:

    There’s a Temple of Mithras under the Bloomberg European HQ building in London:

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