Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
Tip: To view citations for the most cited journals…

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

Statistics of the number of citations for the Most Cited Journal Articles on PEP Web can be reviewed by clicking on the “See full statistics…” link located at the end of the Most Cited Journal Articles list in the PEP tab.


For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Bergmann, M.S. (1976). II: Love That Follows upon Murder in Works of Art. Am. Imago, 33(1):98-101.

(1976). American Imago, 33(1):98-101

II: Love That Follows upon Murder in Works of Art

Martin S. Bergmann

A Greek amphora painting of Exekias executed around 525 B. C. (Arias and Hirmer, 1960, plate no. 18) portrays Achilles about to pierce Penthesilea, the queen of the Amazons with his spear. At this moment, their eyes meet and the queen's spear is deflected from the target. The figures would not attract our attention in the current context were it not for the myth they illustrate. The warrior queen was victorious over the Greeks in many battles until at last she was mortally wounded by Achilles. As she lay dying, her slayer fell in love with her. Graves (1955) more bluntly states that Achilles committed necrophilia there and then. The vase painter sought to capture the moment in which aggression carried to its ultimate is confronted by love. In my interpretation we are dealing with this same moment, transferred into the homosexual realm and better disguised in the Davids of Donatello and Caravaggio.

I agree with Schneider (76) that the legend of David the Giant Killer lends itself to an oedipal interpretation. I would go further and say it is particularly suitable for such an interpretation because the father image is split between the brooding King Saul and Goliath. The oedipal wishes of David to inherit the kingdom of Israel, the bible assures us, were nothing but the figments of the king's melancholia.

The middle ages had little interest in the victorious young David. It was Donatello who in his marble statue of David transformed the harp-playing bearded ancestor of Christ into the young victor (Janson, 1963, p. 6). Victorious Davids occur frequently in the Renaissance with the head of Goliath between their feet. Andrea Del Castagno's youthful David in the National Gallery in Washington and Antonio Pollaiuolo's David in Berlin are two examples.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

Copyright © 2021, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.