Fortitude (Strength)

Although many artists depict Fortitude, or Strength as it has come to be known, as a female, the prototype was probably male. Samson, breaking one of the pillars of the temple on to which he was bound after being betrayed by his faithless Delilah, shows a cudgel wielding man about to take a swing at a lion that crouches at his feet.

Imagine that you’re deep in the heart of Tasmania. The wind is blowing in off of the coast, and the plain stretches out miles before you to a barely visible mountain range. Suddenly, you spot some movement among the low swells and hills of the plain.

An animal steps into view—something you’ve never seen before. You peer closer and notice it has a head like a dog, but a long, low body with stripes on its hindquarters like a tiger. It even has a long, thick tail like a kangaroo, and is about the size of a large Labrador retriever. What on Earth is it?

The Thylacine hunted singly or in pairs and mainly at night. Thylacines preferred to hunt kangaroos and other marsupials, small rodents and birds. They were reported to have preyed on sheep and poultry after European colonisation, although the extent of this was almost certainly exaggerated.

In this instance a mother kangaroo embracing a Thylacine is a depiction of her trust, strength and fortitude. She has survived while the Thylacine has largely become extinct. Scientists believe that Tasmanian tigers were hunted and killed by humans and dingoes, which ultimately led to the Tasmanian tigers’ demise.

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