Victory of humility over pride

Some more Old Testament women from the manuscript Speculum virginum, or Mirror for virgins, advice for 13th century German nuns. Walters Museum, ms.72

Left: Yael killed Sisara; center: humilitas killed superbia; right: Judith killed Holofernes. Odd way to hold a sword.

Judith killed Holofernes: Judith, a beautiful widow, enters the tent of the Assyrian general Holofernes and beheads him while he is drunk. Accompanied by her maid, she brings the head back to her home town of Bethulia, which was about to be attacked; the town rises up against the Assyrian army and is saved.

Everyone painted Judith: Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Rubens, Donatello, Botticelli, Michelangelo…everyone.

Here is Artemisia Gentileschi, the most famous woman painter of the 17th c. “Judith and Maidservant with the Head of Holophernes” (left) and “Judith Slaying Holofernes” (right). Gentileschi portrayed herself as Judith and her mentor Agostino Tassi, who was tried in court for her rape, as Holofernes.

Jael killed Sisera.  Sisera was a Caananite general. When he was defeated in battle by Barak and prophetess Deborah, he escaped to the house of Jael, who killed him by driving a tent peg through his head. Looks like Artemesia did this one too.


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