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The Dance of Death in art and literature is an expression of the common conception of death as a leveler and conqueror of all. The conception is doubtless as old as the time that man first began to philosophize about his existence and his end, but its expression in art began in the Middle Ages, and was most frequent in that morbid period. As Warthin says, "The most satisfactory explanation of the origin of the Toten Tanz motive is to be found in the psychology of the times, which constantly stressed the thought of death and the vanity of all earthly things." "It was a neurotic and psychopathic age, as shown in its superstitions, its religious fanaticism, its sensuality, belief in witchcraft and magic." But the idea has never since failed to interest artists when in their contemplative moods, and it is still used by them even down to pictures
The Physician of the Dance of Death.. Arch Intern Med (Chic). 1931;48(3):535-536. doi:10.1001/archinte.1931.00150030186016