The painting by Caravaggio is about a beautiful widow named Judith decapitating the head of Holofernes. The story in short is that she tried to do what her countrymen could never do. She used her charms to get close to General Holofernes, and one night when she was allowed in his tent and while he was drunk she decapitated him and took his head back to her fearful people. As a result of her daring act, the Assyrians dispersed due to the loss of their leader and Judea stayed free. Judith was later courted by many men, but never married for the rest of her life, as the story says.
What could be in common between the transfixing charms of a beautiful woman like Judith and the heart of a hero in having the guts to decapitate the head of the snake, General Holofernes? How could a woman be so beautiful and so lethal at the same time? When you look at the painting and hear the story, does this give you Goosebumps? As a man, do you fear a woman like Judith, or would you love to be with a woman like her? And as a woman, do you look up to Judith, or does she mean nothing to you?
How about a story of a woman that was able to save her people, or family from certain danger and death, maybe? How about a story of a heroic woman that took charge and set things right in a brutal but necessary way? How much woman is she still after she does that terrible or heroic feat? Does she become the more of a woman? Do we need women to step out of the door today and care about things other than only the things men want them to care about, such as their beauty and looks? Does it take only men to build a civilization and rise up from ignorance and this one big loss of identity we are living in nowadays? These might be different themes you may pick in your next story or poem.
How many times did men fall in the face of beauty and temptation? How many times did empires fall and rise with a woman holding all or most of the strings? How mighty are men in the face of irresistible beauty like that of Judith’s? Is it the things we crave the most that destroy us, or is it just being covetous that kills a man? Is it ever about who is stronger, for Judith did outpower Holofernes by her charms and wits alone? Yet that leads us to another important question, if we give the women that they can be all powerful, are we addressing only the drop-dead gorgeous woman only? How about other women? Can’t they be as powerful?
Write a short story, or a poem about what you can discern from this painting and share a link to your story with us here on Danny B. You can be generous and share a link to this writing prompt on your website or your social media.