Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Popish Asse

This monster who according to Philip Melancthon is representative of the Catholic Church, is meant to be one of many signs or warnings of God's wrath. The story of the Popish Asse and another story of a Moonkish Calfe by Martin Luther are translated out of French and into English by John Brooke and are obviously religious writings meant to cast doubt on the works and traditions of the Catholic Church and its members. My first glance at the title of this piece left me wondering if I would be able to incorporate it into my blog. Upon reading it though I realized that I had little to worry about. Even in these types of religious writings women are present. Notice that the belly and chest of this monster is that of a pregnant woman. This portion of the beast is meant to signify the body of the Pope and all of the officials of the church who "feede and pamper their paunches with delycious wynes and delycate dishes" and "seeke their ease and all the allurements and entisements to whoredom" (Brooke 5). This combination of feminine and maternal characteristics is meant to signify the lustful, wanton ways of women and at the same time speak out about the way the Catholic Church idolized the Virgin Mary. John Melancthon writes that "....without any shame his belly of a woeman, naked and bare: even to these, without any shame, doe lead a dissolute and wanton lyfe, full of all filthinesse and wickednesse" (Brooke 5). So even in these religous writings, the obvious stereotypical female of Early Modern England is presented to the modern world. Once again, I'm not at all surprised.

Quoted from: Of Two Woonderful Popish Monsters, translated by John Brooke

Found on EEBO (Early English Books Online)

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