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MEDIEVAL-RELIGION  February 2001

MEDIEVAL-RELIGION February 2001

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Subject:

Re: Treason, disembowelling and sacrilege

From:

"Phyllis G. Jestice" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 19 Feb 2001 11:32:02 -0600

Content-Type:

text/plain

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medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture

In regard to the death of Judas:
Acts 1:18
"Now this man [Judas] bought a field with the reward of his wickedness; and
falling headlong he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out."

Phyllis

At 09:16 AM 2/19/01 -0800, you wrote:
>medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
>
>Dear All,
>
>This is very interesting to me... does anyone have any other references
>concerning disemboweling and blasphemy/sacrilege? Such references would be
>very helpful to me in an ongoing research project.
>
>My take on the topic comes from a slightly different angle. The scene in
>*Hannibal* involves him giving a lecture on Dante in which he shows a slide
>of a medieval sculpture, supposedly from Benevento Cathedral, of Judas
>hanging himself. Now although the gospels say that Judas comitted suicide
>by hanging, he also is shown with his entrails opened up. This is a
>somewhat puzzling addition to the text, which makes no logical sense if
>Judas killed himself while alone. The explanation, I think, may be found in
>other medieval depictions of the death of Judas, in which a demon is shown
>bursting out of his stomach. Thus, while most medieval death scenes show
>the spirit breathed out through the mouth, Judas is shown with a (demonic)
>spirit coming from his guts. I believe the death of the heretic Arius is
>sometimes similarly depicted.
>
>These motifs can be read against comtemporary theories about demonic
>possession, which claim that demons prefer to inhabit the guts and bowels.
>Indeed, one can set forth a rather complex corporeal "geography" dealing
>with where, in the body, the human spirit, unclean spirits, and the Holy
>Spirit may dwell. I've been dealing with these issues in terms of religious
>rhetoric, but it would be interesting to see if it is carried over,
>symbolically, to a judicial punishment. Are the bowels the bodily "seat" of
>blasphemy?
>
>Thanks for any further illumination,
>
>Nancy Caciola
>History
>UC-San Diego
>
>
>At 10:31 AM 2/19/01 +0200, you wrote:
>>medieval-religion: Scholarly discussions of medieval religion and culture
>>
>>John A. W. Lock wrote:
>>
>>"There was a line of logic which ran through it all,with this being just a
>>part of it.  The object of this bit was that it should be 'notable' (C.16
>>quote).  In England it was specifically for High Treason, however it should
>>suit those in the ascendancy to interpret 'High Treason'. The object of the
>>exercise was the utter destruction of a person from rank (stripped by
>>attainder), reputation, family (disinherited), property (forfeit), life,
>>and body ('to do with as the king chooses').  -  -  But I don't think that
>>the
>>'filth' of the human body entered into it.  Nor were there any especially
>>religious connotations other than that the king was God's Annointed. Rather
>>it was to show the power of the monarch.  'This could be you'. No point in
>>doing it privately."
>>
>>
>>I have read something quite different in John Bellamy's _The Law of
>>Treason in England in the Later Middle Ages_. At some point certain parts
>>of the punishment of drawing, hanging, disembowelling and quartering
>>did have a religious justification. For example William Wallace
>>was executed this way in 1305. He was hanged and disembowelled
>>for his robberies, homicides and felonies, he was beheaded for having
>>lived and died an outlaw. Because of the injuries to the church and the
>>sacrileges committed, his entrails were burned as they had given rise to
>>blasphemous thoughts. The connection between sacrilege and
>>disembowelling combined with the burning of the entrails was also
>>visible in the execution of the Welsh prince David ap Gryffydd for
>>treason some twenty years previously. He had committed murders
>>at Easter.
>>
>>However, the point of the brutality of the punishments for treason
>>was to match the heinousness of the crime. The religious aspects of
>>their justification were only additional to the real purpose of deterring
>>and scaring off.
>>
>>Best wishes,
>>
>>Mia Korpiola
>>
>>Mia Korpiola, LL. Lic.
>>KATTI
>>P. O. Box 4 (Fabianinkatu 24 A)
>>FIN-00014 University of Helsinki
>>Finland
>>
>>[log in to unmask]
>>
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>
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