Judith, beautiful and chaste, defeats the enemy through her courage and cunning, outwitting and outfighting every man in the book, friend and foe. She does it while maintaining her key aspect of chastity, but I think Judith would have fucked Holofernes if she needed to get the job done, or just if he appealed to her. But she just got him drunk instead, and, as I have her maid say, "he never laid a hand on her even though you could tell he wanted to if you know what I mean."
In a way, the Judith story is a parable for childbirth, and the artistic treatments support this: the painters always go straight to the action and ignore the aftermath, the bloody bag that the maid carries the head away in.
Here I've drawn the weave of the basket, using three versions of the story (repeated as needed to fill the space): Judith's, straight from the Apocrypha. The maid's, written in the vernacular from the point of view of the person dragged along because she can't say no; and the highly edited tale as seen from the point of view of Nebudchadnezer, Holofernes, the Judean counselors, and the captains of Holofernes' camp, preserving the most "manly" parts. Judith's and the maid's create the weave of the bloody bag, but Holofernes' blustering boasts are the blood dripping through the warp.
|The Book of Judith: the maid's story|