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The Serpent Crushed

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Chapter Summary

This chapter assesses how far the Protoevangelium, the momentous struggle between the serpent and the Woman in Genesis 3.15, had a role to play in the imagery used for counterpointing good and evil in medieval poetry. The Protoevangelium provided theologians with a powerful way of symbolizing the battle between good and evil, prefiguring that of the Gospels: ?Inimicitias ponam inter te et mulierem, et semen tuum et semen illius: ipsa conteret caput tuum et tu insidiaberis calcaneo eius'. Use of Genesis as proof of the Immaculate Conception became standard by the late sixteenth century, in the work of artists like Seville artists Bartolomé Estebán Murillo and Francisco Zurbarán where Mary tramples the serpent beneath her feet. Linking of Genesis 3.15 to the Immaculate Conception is found in Castilian poems from the late fourteenth-century.?Vergua' of Satan echoes the ?ferits de verga' of the first stanza, now explicitly identified with original sin.

Keywords: Castilian poems; Francisco Zurbarán; Genesis; Immaculate Conception; Mary; Protoevangelium; Satan; Serpent



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