The metamorphosis of Baubo : myths of woman's sexual energy

by Winifred Lubell

Book, 1994



Call number


Call number



Nashville : Vanderbilt University Press, 1994.

Original publication date


Physical description

xix, 219 p.; 25 cm

Local notes

From primitive European and African carvings and cave drawings to the classical poetry, pottery, and sculpture of Attic Greece, from mysterious and disturbing female shapes on the facades of certain gothic Christian churches to startling and instructive examples of contemporary myths in the making, Winifred Milius Lubell tracks a vast resource of visual and textual evidence in this first book-length study of Baubo. Lubell's artistic and literary sources support the argument that from the earliest moments of civilization, humans have respected and revered female sexual energy, graphically symbolized in the vulva, as an indispensable force in the balance of nature. Over the ages, the images of Baubo and her sisters assumed deviant and disturbing forms, but the basic lines of her legend and its visual manifestations were not completely obscured. Nor, as this book will show, has Baubo's essential power been destroyed even in our own age.

User reviews

LibraryThing member ratastrophe
What a wonderful book! My only previous encounter with the figure of Baubo was quite a few years back ago when I first read "Women Who Run With the Wolves", in which Baubo is briefly mentioned. In that book, Baubo is referenced as the "belly goddess" who deals in laughter and embodies the idea of embracing our sexual nature with joy and good humor. Unfortunately, I learned from the same book that very little is known about Baubo.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered Lubell's well-written and informative book! The stories and artwork surrounding Baubo, as well as the explanations of how her figure has been oft maligned by the patriarchal society of years past, are presented in an incredibly accessible manner. I was engaged in the information throughout.

It is not uncommon for books on the mythology of women to fall into the unfortunate trap of man-bashing. Yes, much of our recorded history takes place in patriarchal societies that relegated women to a lower class. Yes, as a result there has been a downplay in the importance of female mythological figures throughout time. Is that the fault of men we encounter in society today? Absolutely not. There are legitimate concerns with how women are treated in modern times, but the guy in line next to you at the grocery store is hardly responsible for the repression of art by an archaeologist in the 1700s.

Fortunately, Lubell's book skillfully avoids doing this - the faults of the past are treated with an objective eye and without judgment. She keeps the focus on Baubo herself and her book is all the better for it. This is an absolutely fascinating read for anyone interested in the history of women in religious mythology.
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