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Death and the maiden (trope)

Related: list of tropes - death - macabre - virgin

The motif of death and the maiden combines the eroticism of and beauty of the femimine body in full bloom with bodily decay, ephemerality and the abrupt termination of a life of pleasure. As death's opposite, as attempt to deny the transience of the human body, vanity nevertheless serves as a measure for mortality. -- Over Her Dead Body (1992) - Elisabeth Bronfen

Death and the Maiden (1512) - Niklaus Manuel Deutsch
Image sourced here.

In the frescoe of Berne, a skeleton kisses the virgin on her cheek and grabs her full breasts.
Image sourced here.

Death and Woman (1517) - Hans Baldung Grien

Death and the maiden () Hans Baldung Grien
image sourced here.


A maiden is a female virgin (though originally it referred to males as well), or to any young woman.

This theme [death and the maiden] has a multi-faceted past. It is rooted in very old mythological traditions: among the ancient Greeks, the abduction of Persephone (Proserpine among the Romans) by Hades (Pluto), god of Hell, is a clear prefiguration of the clash between Eros and Thanatos. The young goddess gathered flowers in company of carefree nymphs when she saw a pretty narcissus and plucked it. At that moment, the ground opened; Hades came out of the underworld and abducted Persephone. -- http://www.lamortdanslart.com/fille/maiden.htm

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