In modern times, Spartacus became an icon for communists and socialists. Karl Marx listed Spartacus as one of his heroes and described him as “the most splendid fellow in the whole of ancient history” and a “great general, noble character, real representative of the ancient proletariat“.
The “Pégase romantique” caricature by Jean-Gabriel Scheffer (above) depicts from left to right Petrus Borel, Victor Hugo, and Alexandre Dumas sitting on a giant crayfish. Or is that the pet lobster Gérard Nerval supposedly took for walks in Paris on the end of a blue ribbon?
The motto of the caricature (top) reads ‘rien n’est beau que le laid; le laid seul est aimable,’ which translates as “Only the ugly is beautiful, only the ugly is likeable,” illustrating the cult of ugliness professed by for example Victor Hugo (“Le beau n’a qu’un type ; le laid en a mille“).
I found this image while researching the bouzingo, a group of minor French artists active in 1830s Paris. The source of the image is the excellent piece of grey lterature Pétrus Borel: Background, Reception and Interpretation (1999) by Erik S. Bovee.