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Journal > Volumes > 34 (2003) / 1 (Spring)
The Demons Reaction to Sodomy: Witchcraft and Homosexuality in Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola's Strix
Tamar Herzig
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

This study draws on theological and demonological works that discuss demons' reaction to sodomy, and concentrates on Gianfrancesco Pico's 1523 dialogue Strix. While the medieval theological view stressed the demons' abhorrence of sodomy and refrainment from engaging in sodomitical relations, fifteenth-century demonologists already found it difficult to reconcile such a view with the newly developed theory of diabolic witchcraft. During the sixteenth century, the notion of the demons' dis gust at sodomy was radically transformed. This transformation was gradual, but in Strix the shift away from the traditional view was already decisive. The article examines Pico's original configuration of the relations between sodomy and witchcraft, and suggests a few possible reasons for his decision to challenge the medieval notion.These include the influence of Girolamo Savonarola's antisodomy campaign, the growing emphasis on demonic sex in sixteenth-century demonology, and the predominance of men among the alleged witches in the Mirandolese witchcraft trials, in which Pico was personally involved.

Pages: 53 - 72