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mjhurst  mjhurst is offline
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Join Date: 24 Jul 2003
Location: California, U.S.A.
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mjhurst 
The Apostle Simon the Zealot


Speaking of horror shows, one of the best inverted torture-execution pictures is Lucas Cranach's depiction of the martyrdom of the apostle Simon the Zealot. Medieval legend had it that he was killed by Pagans who sawed him in half, and he was often depicted with a saw as his identifying attribute.


The Martyrdom of Simon the Zealot
Lucas Cranach, 1539

But again, not just famous figures nor martyrs. For example, the legendary King David was pretty nasty in dealing with his (anonymous) foes.


The Punishment of King David's Enemies


The Punishment of King David's Enemies

Dismemberment and execution as punishment for the highest crimes (i.e., treason) also included the infamous "drawing and quartering". Wikipedia describes it as follows:

Quote:
Until 1814, the full punishment for the crime of treason was to be hanged, drawn and quartered in that the condemned prisoner would be:

1. Dragged on a hurdle (a wooden frame) to the place of execution. (This is one possible meaning of drawn.)
2. Hanged by the neck for a short time or until almost dead. (hanged).
3. Disembowelled and emasculated and the genitalia and entrails burned before the condemned's eyes (This is another meaning of drawn see the reference to the Oxford English Dictionary below.)
4. Beheaded and the body divided into four parts (quartered).

Typically, the resulting five parts (i.e. the four quarters of the body and the head) were gibbeted (put on public display) in different parts of the city, town, or, in famous cases, country, to deter would-be traitors who had not seen the execution. After 1814 the convict would be hanged until dead and the mutilation would be performed after death. Gibbeting was abolished in England in 1843. Drawing and quartering was abolished in 1870.
The point here is that even into the 19th century, even in genteel England -- home of the Anglo/American legal tradition of human rights -- punishment for treason was taken quite seriously. The traditional neutering of Tarot symbolism by occultists, who find the Hanged Man and Death too repulsive to be anything other than arcane symbols of alchemy or some such nonsense, is historically inappropriate. Death meant death, and the Traitor was actually going to endure more than bad looks and harsh language because of a shame painting.

Best regards,
Michael
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