Eikon Basilike (Royal Image)

Eikon Basilike (Royal Image), published by Charles I’s supporters during the year of his death in 1649, not only advocates the divine right of kings, thus condemning the people’s decision to execute their king, but upholds the fallen sovereign as a Christ figure. Note the heavy symbolism in this picture. Charles I, with his foot on the earth next to his crown, looks toward a heavenly crown in the sky: While his earthly crown has been taken, the image affirms divine right and the king’s ascension in heaven. In the midst of this darkness, he is possessed with a clarity of vision. The crown of thorns, a new type of crown, aligns Charles’ suffering with that of Christ. In Scripture, explains the text of the picture, lies the king’s hope (“In verbo tuo spes mea”). In the face of oppression, he will remain unmoved and triumphant (“immota triumphans”), like a rock; he is also like a palm that grows straighter and gains more virtue with the weight that it bears.

Contributing author: Michelle Ephraim, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Responding to Eikon Basilike

Answer the following questions in your notebook—this will be collated so that you can print or e-mail your work when you are finished.
1). Why, do you think, are Charles I’s subjects not depicted in the picture?

2). Marvell’s poem also omits any reference to society. How might this omission serve the speaker’s purpose?

Bedford/St. Martin's | Order a Book | Instructor Registration | Contact Us | Contact Your Sales Representative