Friday, November 04, 2022


Beguiling Goddesses

Gustaf Sobin (1935-2005), Ladder of Shadows: Reflecting on Medieval Vestige in Provence and Languedoc (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009), p. 50, with note on p. 214:
"By destroying cultic statues," writes Béatrice Caseau, "people were making sure that the goddesses would not have any means of harming them."5 One might readily rephrase that statement to read: by destroying cultic statues, people were making sure that the goddesses would not have any means of charming, beguiling, abducting them—once again—into the sensuous gardens of a paganism, profoundly telluric in its orientation. It was this very magnetism to things earthen, carnal, immediate that the new faith had proscribed. It advocated, now, a marked displacement of the senses. A purported heaven had come to supplant a deprecated earth, and, along with it, the ever more remote figures of the venerated had replaced the corporal splendor of those decried idols. The devout had begun looking elsewhere, beseeching an entirely invisible deity.

5. Béatrice Caseau, s.v. "Sacred Landscapes," in Late Antiquity: A Guide to the Postclassical World, ed. G.W. Bowersock, Peter Brown, and Oleg Grabar (Cambridge: Mass.: Belknap Press, 1999), 21.
Id., p. 49, fig. 5 ("Mutilated Venus figure. Musée de l'Arles et de la Provence Antiques. Photo by the author."):
Related posts: Mutilation and Vandalism.

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