AWE (A Woman’s Experience)


Judith, Biblical studies, Medieval studies, female war heroes


It’s not every day that a youthfully beautiful maiden commits manslaughter. Then again, it’s not every day that an unarmed, outnumbered band of would-be martyrs conquers world-class military threats. And it’s not every day that violence promotes peace, or that vice masks the victory of virtue. Yet these are the ageless anachronisms that have shaped both our social reality and our beloved legends, the unanticipated underdogs. “Ic him ealdor oðþrong,” Judith said humbly of her malignant captor, “I took his life” (Cooper 9). This eponymous, 10th century war- hero—a seemingly obscure Hebrew woman—turned the tide of a critical battle between the Assyrians and her people by beheading their lustful king in the very tent where he sought to take advantage of her, thereafter concocting and executing the militant strategy that would win her people their freedom. How did she do it? Well, by her being imbued with the poetic elements of German heroism, not to mention the power of God.