Soul of the World! Inspir'd by thee,
The jarring Seeds of Matter did agree,
Thou didst the scatter'd Atoms bind,
Which, by thy Laws of true proportion join'd,
Made up of various Parts one perfect Harmony.
Nicholas Poussin, Landscape with Three Travelers
Poussin composed this painting using the Golden Section ratio of proportion first described by Euclid. It was Pythagoras who said that nature was organized according to mathematics. This painting declares in every part that the world is orderly and harmonious. Poussin, like the Roman Stoic philosophers he admired, believed that time and wisdom were our consolations in the perpetual struggle between life and death. This painting is filled with imagery suggesting death and regeneration.