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Judith
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Biblical Character
    Featured in the Book of Judith
    Decapitated the Assyrian general Holofernes
    She uses her feminine wiles to ingratiate herself with Holofernes, gets him drunk, then cuts off his head when he passes out, and we're supposed to consider that heroic?
    The Book of Judith is included in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox versions of the Bible but not the Jewish and Protestant ones.
    Paintings of her with Holofernes' severed head usually show her with her maid so she can be distinguished from Salome carrying the head of John the Baptist.
    A Catholic tract published in Reformation-era England expressing the hope that 'pious Judith would slay Holofernes' was interpreted as a call to assassinate Queen Elizabeth, leading to the execution of the publisher (1584).
    After the death of Holofernes, the demoralized Assyrian army dispersed, saving Israel.
    She was viewed as personifying the virtues of humility, justice, fortitude and chastity -- the opposite of Holofernes' vices of pride, tyranny, decadence and lust.
    She was frequently adopted as a symbol of local resistance against distant tyrants.
    She inspired memorably gory paintings by Caravaggio and Artemisia Gentileschi.

Credit: C. Fishel


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