Abstract

This article traces the development of the hermaphrodite symbol in alchemical literature from the high Middle Ages to the early modern period. It argues that alchemical writers used themetaphor of hermaphroditism to describe the "philosophers' stone," a chemical agent believed to be a combination of contradictory elemental qualities. Such writers extended the hermaphrodite metaphor to Jesus, whome they conflated with the philosophers' stone, and whom they viewed as a combination of masculine and feminine, as well as human and divine, attributes. This article also explores the "Jesus Hermaphrodite" metaphor in the context of approaches toward intersex people during the period.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1086-3222
Print ISSN
0022-5037
Pages
pp. 193-218
Launched on MUSE
2008-04-04
Open Access
No
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