Depiction of the merciless, abominable, and gruesome animal: An English Translation

Unknown Artist, Abbildung deß unbarmhertzigen abschewlichen grausam und grewlichen Thiers Welches in wenig Jahren den grösten Theil Teutschlandes erbärm und jämmerlichen verheeret außgezehret und verderbet (Depiction of the merciless, abominable, and gruesome animal, which within a few years ravaged, starved, and wasted the greatest part of Germany), c. 1630, place of publication unknown.
Engraving, Sheet: 34.6 x 27.7cm; Illustration: 16.1 x 25.9cm
State and University Library Dresden

Depiction of the merciless, abominable, and gruesome animal, which within a few years ravaged, starved, and wasted the greatest part of Germany. Below here is a report from where this creature originated, who raised and fed it, and finally by what means one can rid of it again. Here [bravely] described.

A wolf in the green forest and on wide heath, which tears apart people and livestock, and who scatters sheep with fierceness, one does not trust a lion, a wild horse very much, the same for a person who is angry, mean, who lost his senses; many a person is very afraid of snakes, vipers, rats, and toads, so the people often wrestle in distress also to save themselves and their goods, the same with other harmful creatures under the high heavens, which day in and day out sneak to harm people. It seems to me that all people bear ill will toward these beasts, one should not let any of them live, shall kill them when one can. But whoever loves such creatures, raises and feeds them, is provided with a lot of misfortune for his body and goods. The person who diligently fetches for himself in this way his cross and misfortune and carries it on his back, if he could get rid of it, but does not desire to do so, to whom will he then complain about his adversity, which he is getting because of it. Can one find [many] such people now also in Germany? […] God, it is a shame that one has to say that from here and there then quickly has come forth into our dear Germany from all quarters an animal, the aforementioned beast. That animal runs around upright, with a furious face, [like] a lion, wolf, and bear, it spares no human being. With fear and terror now the poor people in groups are preparing to flee, to run away from the animal.

Whatever this animal now grasps, towns, villages, land, and people, yes the people, body and goods, it makes it its prey. For it has a wolf’s mouth which cannot be filled. With gold and money all day long one has to feed its meanness. At its side it has the hand of a human being, with fire, rifle, spear, rapier, and destroys people and land, whatever comes toward it. The lion’s claw at its left side reaches sharply around, makes many a one poor in a short time with pulling through of stripes [translator note:  This means that the claws scraped through everything, making scratch marks.]. Whoever stands up to it, has to suffer greatly, loses his life and goods at the same time, is being trampled with feet. The fruit, which has barely sprouted from the earth, was blooming fully, the beast destroys it like a wild horse which nobody can stop. It has a poisonous rat’s tail with a lot of unclean worms on it, which, when the beast retreats, destroys entirely what could still be useful. It is followed quickly by famine and pestilence, which clear away whatever can still be found. What is the name of this animal? It is called war. From where then does it come? From our fatherland. The people’s sin in general has given birth to this evil animal, which even eats up its own parents mercilessly. Who has raised this horrible animal so far? I say, surely here, it had sucked on all of our breasts. Who has cruelly helped this animal up on its feet, opened wide door and gate? All of us, big and small.

But few people understand this correctly, that God’s punishment acts with this. The world thinks it happens just so, it is no [wonder]. Because the people persist in sin, no improvement can be felt. That God’s arm stays extended, the punishments continue. If the sin now would not be recognized and God not be asked for grace, and if every social class would not improve, as is much needed, God would, as he did often, let the animal have its will and let it play to the end that which nobody can prevent. True remorse and repentance alone would be a good means that God would let go of his wrath, would move away from us His “rood”, thus we could attain a merciful God; by becoming pious we would soon see this animal dead, destroyed and perished. It would strangle and kill itself with its own sword. This way Germany could be helped from this vale of tears and destitution, in addition, everything that had been gobbled up would often be spit out again. In addition, many poor people who had been chased away, driven out, would be wonderfully glad, if they didn’t have to perish entirely like so many others. He is wise now and well educated, will be blessed, who cares about other people’s adversity, this is what the old ones have said.

E n d.

Translation by Gerda Dinwiddie

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