The Velvet Chamber
An Anthology of Revisioned Myth and Fairy Tale

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Virgin Whore or Bring me the head of John the Baptist


"Artists and intellectuals of the nineteenth century interpreted the Biblical story of Salome in different manners. While mid-century artists pointed to the innocence of Salome and the guilt of her mother Herodias, the fin de si├Ęcle became obsessed with the image of Salome as what Bram Dijkstra calls “the virgin whore.” The blame for John the Baptist’s decapitation shifted entirely to Salome and she became a symbol of feminine evil and bloodthirsty lust." 

From The Victorian Web

Salome is also one of the three women who witnessed the resurrection of Jesus Christ in The New Testament.  The Hebrew meaning of her name is Peace.  It appears that this might be another example of a truncated feminine archetype; like Hecate or Medea, where as a culture we've lost her complexity and instead are left with binary oppositions, virgin/whore.

Image: Pierre Bonnaud, b. 1865

2 comments:

  1. Oh, these 'morally' biased tales polarizing women... good thing we have the ability to rewrite them properly.

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  2. I sometimes find it hard to avoid that cultural mythological narrative, its been hardwired into my brain, but I'm trying. thanks for the comment.

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