Bronze is one of the oldest and most commonly used metals in the world, starting since pre-historic times. Because of its long history, bronze has acquired a complex and profound spiritual significance.
As a metal, bronze symbolizes the spiritual world, but also financial wealth. Because of its useful properties, bronze was used to make religious items such as bells, scepters and statues but also coins and medals. As a color, bronze symbolizes warmth and comfort, but also prosperity and abundance.
Mythological symbolism of bronze as a material
Both bronze and brass have the same symbolic meaning because they are both alloys of copper combined with other metals. Bronze is mixed with tin and silver, while brass is mixed with zinc.
Because copper’s symbolism is connected with the Sun and fire, while silver and zinc are connected with the Moon and water, bronze is a metal whose components are in violent conflict with one another, which gives bronze dual symbolic meaning.
Because bronze is capable of a high level of resonance, it is first and foremost a voice. On one hand, it is the voice of the cannon, and on the other, it is the voice of the bell. Despite their different purposes, both voices are powerful and terrifying.
Greek legend says that Cinyras, the first king of Cyprus, who likely came from Byblos, was the first person to work with bronze.
Hesiod tells us of the so-called Race of Bronze that was “terrible” and “powerful.” One of the Race of Bronze’s last members on Earth was said to be the Cretan mythical creature Talos, who was both human and machine (a robot of sorts) and was thought to have been cast in bronze by either the god Hephaistos or Daedalus, one of King Minos’ greatest engineers and artisans.
This bronze Talos was a remarkable creature. Minos gave him the job of stopping strangers from arriving in Crete while at the same time forbidding the people who lived on the island from leaving. Talos would throw huge rocks at any ship that came close, or, more terrible still, he would get his body very hot, chase his victims, catch them, and then burn them to death by holding them to his chest.
To escape from Crete, Daedalus had to find a way to fly so he could avoid the terrifying Talos. However, for all his might, Talos had a weakness: “Except for one spot on his body, Talos was invulnerable. At the bottom of his leg was a small vein that was closed with a pin. With her spells, Medea was able to open this vein, and Talos died “.
It’s worth noting that, similar to Achilles, this creature’s weak spot was at the bottom of its foot. This symbolizes both a weak mind and weak morals.
It seems strange that the energy that fueled this bronze machine could have drained through this vein after the witch Medea opened it.
One may argue that Talos represents debased energy, completely material, used for malicious purposes, and entirely controlled by magical powers, even if these magical spells are produced by the wisdom and skills of a Hephaistos, a Daedalus, or a Medea.
Bronze is a holy metal
Bronze was a holy metal that was used to make religious tools starting in ancient times and up to the time of Buddhism and Christianity.
The Children of Israel used a bronze figure of a snake on a pole, called the Brazen Serpent, as a protective banner (Numbers 21:9). At the time, they were beset by fiery serpents that killed many among them, but one look at this Brazen Serpent was enough to protect against death and make the fiery serpents flee.
The Brazen Serpent was later put up in their great Temple as a sign that God would protect them. There was also a sacrifice altar with four horns made of bronze, and any criminal who grasped all four was said to be given sanctuary.
The vessels that chimed in the wind in Zeus’s forest at Dodona were made of bronze, as were the gates to Hephaistos’ palace and temple, the roof of the Temple of Vesta, and the first sculpture of Ceres in Rome. The vessels that were used to pour holy drinks in ancient Greek and Roman culture were also made of bronze.
The Ancient Egyptians imagined the vault of Heaven to be made of bronze, and the afterlife journey was described as “moving towards Heaven, through the firmament of bronze” in The Book of the Dead.
Ancient Romans used bronze razors for rituals of shaving a priest’s head and bronze ploughshares for demarcating boundaries around a settlement or farm. For the Romans, bronze was a symbol of invincibility, immortality, and justice that never swayed and always stayed true.
The vault of Heaven was frequently imagined to be made of bronze, partly because it was considered a resilient and unbreakable metal, but also because bronze was associated with the sky gods, who had the power to fill mankind with awe and fear through their thunder and lightning.
Fama, the Roman goddess of fame, favored bronze for its exceptional resonance, and so this material was used to build her temple atop a mountain.
This again shows that bronze, as a symbol, has two sides, because Fame’s palace “was always open, and what was said near it both echoed and got louder. Here the goddess lived, surrounded by Credulity, Error, False Joy, Terror, Sedition, and False Rumor. From her palace, she could see the whole world “.
Similar ambiguity exists in the legends of the hind (female deer) with bronze hooves, as well as the story of Empedocles’ bronze sandal.
One possible interpretation of the role of bronze in both stories is that it represents a symbolic wall between the individual and the corrupting influences of the material world.
In the story of Empedocles, the philosopher threw himself into the volcanic crater of Mount Etna. The volcano took the life of Empedocles, but it spit out one of his bronze sandals. The people of the time believed this to be a sign that the teachings of Empedocles would last forever and that the philosopher would join the ranks of the gods and so live forever.
With it’s bronze hooves, the female deer also has ambigous symbolism. There are two possible interpretations: either the hind, which is supposed to be light-footed and pure, was weighed down by earthly cravings, or that the animal was separated from earthly corruption by the sacred bronze that covered its hooves, which prevented the animal from directly touching the earth.
The symbol’s bipolar nature results in sublimation on the one hand and corruption of its original character on the other. A simpler interpretation would be that it stresses the impulsive sprint of the untiring hind to escape the pursuit of its hunters, as well as the endless and holy flight of the virgin and the untamed.
Early Irish literature talks a lot about bronze and how it was used to make weapons, jewelry, and tools. But the word “findruine,” which means “white bronze,” is confusing because it’s not clear whether it means brass or electrum, which is a mixture of gold and silver. It’s possible that the Irish used it for both.
Bronze symbolism in the Bible & Christianity
In the Bible and in Christianity, bronze is often associated with strength and durability. It is also sometimes used as a symbol of judgment or punishment.
One example of the use of bronze in the Bible is in the story of the construction of the Ark of the Covenant, which was made of acacia wood and overlaid with gold. The poles used to carry the Ark were made of bronze, symbolizing the strength and durability of the Ark.
Bronze is also mentioned in the Bible as being used for various other purposes, including the construction of the gates of the temple, the making of incense altars, and the casting of various objects, such as the basin for washing and the altar of burnt offering.
In the book of Revelation, bronze is also mentioned as being used as a symbol of judgment. In Revelation 1:15, Jesus is described as having feet that are “like bronze glowing in a furnace,” which is interpreted by some to symbolize his role as judge. Similarly, in Revelation 2:18, a sharp two-edged sword is described as being made of bronze, symbolizing the power of God’s word to judge and punish.
Symbolic meaning of bronze as a color
The psychological meaning of the color bronze can vary depending on the context in which it is used. In general, bronze is often associated with stability, reliability, and dependability.
It can also be associated with strength and endurance. In some cases, bronze may be seen as a symbol of prosperity or abundance. The color bronze is often associated with feelings of warmth and comfort.
It can also be seen as a grounding and stabilizing color, helping to bring a sense of balance and harmony. However, the psychological meaning of bronze may be influenced by cultural and personal associations with the color.
Why are bronze medals awarded to third place?
The practice of awarding bronze medals to third place finishers dates back to the Olympic Games in ancient Greece, where gold, silver, and bronze were the materials used to create the awards given to the top three finishers in each event. This practice has been continued in modern times, with gold medals awarded to first place, silver ones for second place, and bronze medals being awarded to third place finishers.
There are a few reasons why bronze medals are given to third place finishers rather than another type of metal. One reason is that bronze is a durable and long-lasting material that is resistant to corrosion, making it a suitable choice for awards that may be worn or displayed for extended periods of time.
In addition to its durability, bronze is also relatively inexpensive to produce, which makes it a practical choice for mass-produced medals. It is also relatively easy to work with, so it can be molded and shaped into a variety of different designs and sizes.
Bronze medals may also be seen as prestigious due to their association with ancient civilizations, who used bronze to make a variety of decorative and functional objects. The use of bronze in medals may also be seen as a way to pay tribute to the past or to honor tradition.
The use of bronze medals to recognize third place finishers has become a widespread practice in a variety of different competitions and sporting events. It is now common to see bronze medals awarded in a variety of different contexts, including sports, academic competitions, and other types of achievements.
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