Thursday, December 8, 2011

We Got a Lot to Loin

An odd little book illustration from an early Symbolist/Surrealist:

Félicien Rops — Diaboli Virtus In Lumbis — 1888
(The Devil's Strength in the Loins?)


docnad said...

Diaboli virtus in lumbis est. — The virtue of the devil is in the loins. St. Jerome. Contra Jorimen, 2, 1. 2(p. 72, ed. Banle. 1537). Quoted in A book of quotations, proverbs and household words: a collection of quotations from British and American authors, ancient and modern; with many thousands of proverbs, familiar phrases and sayings, from all sources, including Hebrew, Arabic, Greek, Latin, French, German, Spanish, Italian, and other languages (Google eBook) By Sir William Gurney Benham, J. B. Lippincott, 1907, p. 518, column B. Thank you, Google.

This book was published two decades after Rops created this strange composition. Judging from the inscription, Rops apparently has wrongly attributed the quotation to St. Augustine. He seems to have left off the last word of the Latin quotation as well. It may be that the reason Rops has the airborne, callipygian female holding the severed head of St. John the Baptist is that Augustine often spoke of the beheaded Saint. Thus the whole composition may in fact be based on the incorrect attribution of the quotation to St. Augustine instead of to St. Jerome.

The wings of the ilium, or alae, are so named for their evident winglike shape. Therefore Rops is hardly staging a great creative coup here in giving the human pelvis butterfly wings. In addition, he has drawn the scapulae on the female figure so that he can indicate the wings emanating from them, again not a profound imaginative leap. I don't understand his inclusion of the bow and arrows. It seems to me a sword might make more sense.

Thomas Haller Buchanan said...

Well, now we know something we didn't know two minutes ago. Thanks Docnad.

joe ackerman said...

what he said. that, and I like a bit of Rops, from time to time.