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The Origin of SinAn English Translation of the "Hamartigenia"$
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Aurelius Prudentius Clemens

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801442223

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801442223.001.0001

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Generation of Vipers

Generation of Vipers

(p.129) 6. Generation of Vipers
The Origin of Sin


, Martha A. Malamud
Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the Hamartigenia's description of vipers, which closely resembles that of the Physiologus, a compilation of materials that explain the Christian symbolism of elements drawn from nature writings, fables, fairy tales, and scripture. The Hamartigenia's female viper conceives by taking the head of her partner into her mouth, biting it off in the heat of her passion, and drinking in his saliva as he dies. This passage has obvious similarities to the description of the fall of Satan. He is either beheaded or strangled when his head, which takes the place of his sexual organ, is snapped by his mate's jaws—an action that combines decapitation and castration.

Keywords:   Hamartigenia, vipers, Satan, decapitation, castration

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