Saturday, April 16, 2005

Not Guilty

Still sick. Still reading a lot. I have started The Tibetan Book of the Dead but will save my thoughts for later.

I had to read excerpts from Paternal Tyranny by Arcangela Tarabotti for class. Tarabotti was a 17th century woman who wrote treatises. I sped through it because it's so unlike the female Renaissance writers we have read thus far.

After the Lord had created the universe and all the animals - as I have just said - it is written, "And God saw all the things that He had made, and they were very good" (Gn 1:31). He then set about shaping the proudest animal of all; but when He had finished, He did not deem His work perfect and so did not recognize it as good. For this reason, Genesis does not add the same words as before; but foreseeing that without woman man would be the compendium of all imperfections, God said after some thought, "It is not good for man to be alone, let us make him a help like unto himself" (Gn 2:18). Thus He willed to bring forth a companion for man, who would enrich him with merits and be the universal glory of the human race (46).

As soon as His Majesty said the word "help," He immediately added, "like unto himself," implying that woman is of just as much value as man (50).

If he alone had the grace of free will and was superior to Eve, she would not have sinned at all, despite the serpent's promptings and insinuations, for the simple reason that she could not have made choices without her husband's consent (51).

Eve is deceived by the serpent's cunning, and you place all the blame on her. Adam falls for a charming request, and you excuse him. He knew he was offending God; he was not deceived by cunning, but beseeched by an innocent and sincere creature. Have you ever heard of greater wickedness than shielding yourself against your own faults with another's innocence (52)?

Our ancient mother set us a true example: as soon as she was created, she used her free will given by God; her first act was to gaze upon the tree that would bear the fruit of knowledge. Desire pursued her eye; overcome, she aroused the same desire in Adam. It was his excessive gullibility that deprived the whole human race of the happy state of innocence (109).

Adam alone, not Eve, was commanded not to eat the forbidden fruit - which means that his sin, not hers, brought ruin to the world. [...] and for that reason the apostle Paul says, "Through one man sin entered the world [...] (122)."

It gets worse but I have omitted many things so as not to offend my male readers :) Don't complain, though. This is nothing compared to the plethora of misogynist literature out there, especially from this time period.

I found the whole piece fascinating. I think I will buy the book. You always hear about it being Eve's fault, and whether you find the argument convincing or not, it is interesting to read. I don't know how she got away with writing this.

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