If “King Xerxes [Was] Clearly Based on King Sennacherib”:
whose massive Assyrian army was defeated through the agency of the Simeonite heroine, Judith,
A Revised History of the Era of King Hezekiah of Judah and its Background
Damien F. Mackey
and if Collins is right that the Spartans arose from the tribe of Simeon:
Collins Believes Spartans Were ‘Missing Simeonites’
then the improbable ‘Battle of Thermopylae’ must be in actuality a vague (and obviously fictitious) recalling of the real life drama between the forces of Sennacherib and the northern (e.g. Simeonite) Israelites (Jews).
But what about the female factor coupled with the beheading of an Alpha male?
She is Queen Tomyris, who has so often been paired with Judith in literature and painting, e.g.:
The subject was popular in the late Middle Ages when Jael’s triumph over Sisera, together with the Biblical story of Judith killing Holofernes (Book of Judith), and the ancient Greek story of the Massagetae queen, Tomyris killing the Persian emperor, Cyrus, were regarded as prefigurations of the Blessed Virgin Mary’s victory over the devil. The associations are depicted in a Flemish manuscript, Le Miroir de l’Humaine Salvation, made in 1455 for Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, now in the University of Glasgow.
Dante’s Purgatorio — Canto XII (http://www.italianstudies.org/comedy/Purgatorio12.htm):
Shown were the sons of King Sennacherib
Felling him at prayers in the temple And then leaving him there slain on the floor. 55 Shown was the downfall and the cruel killing Tomyris enacted when she said to Cyrus, “For blood you thirsted and with blood I sate you!” Shown were the Assyrians in full rout, After Holofernes had been murdered, 60 And also his remains amid the slaughter.
Judith or Tomyris of Scythia
Matteo di Giovanni belonged to the same generation of painters as Francesco di Giorgio and Neroccio, and his fame would have made him an obvious candidate in any attempt to show off the skills of all the leading artists of Siena (note 136). He, like Neroccio and Francesco, had contributed designs for the Duomo pavement Sibyls. Moreover, he had actually been Orioli’s master, providing another route for the younger painter’s cooption. It seems possible that he was involved at an early stage, but the cutting of the panel and the loss of most of the background with its narrative elements make it more difficult to estimate its place in the chronology of the series. Stylistically the painting seems to belong to the very end of Matteo’s career. The panel may have been cut partly because the lower part was in poor condition, as was probably the case with its neighbour, Artemisia, but it is just possible such a drastic reduction may also have been an attempt to convert the image of Tomyris into the more saleable Judith. The iconography of both is likely to be consistent: the figure brandishing her weapon and holding a severed head by the hair – the head in this case is noticeably undersized and must be to some extent emblematic.
In addition to the identifying inscription, the cutting has eliminated episodes which would have further defined the figure. The story of Judith is wellknown. The widowed Queen Tomyris, having defeated Cyrus, the invading Persian king, dipped his severed head in a wineskin of blood. The row of tents on the right implies a military encampment – a feature of both stories.