Beatrice Groves
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Christ’s tears and maternal cannibalism in early modern London
in Biblical women in early modern literary culture 1550–1700
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The claustrophobic closeness of life in London was thought to lead to a break-down of conventional morality. Christ's monologue is directly followed by Miriam's even more problematic address, which retrospectively colours Christ's words so that the city's destruction seems an act of pre-meditated violence. In Thomas Nashe's plague pamphlet Christ's Tears over Jerusalem Miriam's cannibalism is a dominant motif both because plague has transformed London into a predatory metropolis and because plague has been caused by the heartless predation of citizens upon each other. While classical examples of parental cannibalism always involve a father consuming their child, Josephus, influenced by the maternal cannibalism of Lamentations, has a mother perform the act. The maternal joys of Jerusalem and the maternal care of God are entwined and ecstatically celebrated at the end of Isaiah. The biblical book, Lamentations performs Jeremiah's lament over Jerusalem in which the sinful, suffering city is insistently female.

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