Thursday, 13 July 2017

Artemis Polymastos

The female breast is portrayed in Christian iconography without any erotic implication, as in images of Maria lactans, the MOTHER of God nursing the baby Jesus. St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1 153) also had a vision in which he was nourished by spiritual MILK from Mary's breast, a gift that could also be distributed to the multitudes of the faithful or be used to refresh the poor souls in purgatory. We occasionally see, as in 15th- through 17th-century representations of the Last Judgment, Mary baring before her son the breasts that had nursed him, in order to make him more lenient, while he himself shows the wounds of his Passion to God the FATHER. 

Amputated breasts on a platter are the attribute of brutally tortured women martyrs, e.g., St. Agatha, who died in Sicily in 251 for her faith. 

In classical antiquity a significantly portrayal of the mother's breast was the famous DIANA of Ephesus, "Artemis polymastos" (many-breasted), the universal mother nursing all of humanity; Macrobius speaks of her as a many-breasted Natura. The recent hypothesis that the grape-like breasts of this Artemis are the testicles of sacrificed BULLS, seems unlikely in view of the classical notion of the primeval mother nursing the world.

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