In one of the previous lectures (I think the February 14th one, but, as of this time, the lecture about the rise of Lutheranism hasn’t been uploaded yet) Professor Stuart briefly showed an image of the Whore of Babylon.
Since this class doesn’t focus on the Book of Revelation or mythology in general, the image was only shown because of the artist, Lukas Cranach. The image shown was “The Pope as the Whore of Babylon” (1545). Depicted in the woodcut (a colorized version of it is posted below) is, as the title says, the Pope as the Whore of Babylon.
The image is a strong anti-clerical piece, and ties in with Lutheranism, as Luther’s doctrine of “sola gratia, sola fide, sola scriptura” went again Catholic beliefs. In short, Luther believed in salvation by scripture alone, that only God’s chosen ones could be granted salvation and that purgatory was a fabrication made up by the clergy. Thus, he believed in predestination and that people could not change the outcome of their lives. This went directly against the Catholic Church’s selling of indulgences, which could reduce the amount of time people would spend in purgatory, and Luther grew to see the Pope as the Anti-Christ.
*To be honest, if this image is supposed to represent the Pope, I think he doesn’t look all that bad in drag.
Here is SMT’s version of the Whore of Babylon, called “Mother Harlot” due to the character-count limit in earlier games allowing names up to only 14 letters long. In my opinion, the name “Mother Harlot” fits her well, after all, in Revelation 17:5, “upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH”.
Thus, SMT’s “Mother Harlot” can be considered to be a title for Babylon the Great, which is the actual name of the Whore.
Thematically, Mother Harlot follows the same concept as the Whore, which is a given, as they are the same character. Both images depict her as a woman dressed in red and purple, accented by gold and some precious stones. In addition, she holds a goblet “full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication” (Revelation 17:4). The beast on which she rides is red and has seven heads and 10 horns – these features are mentioned in the Book of Revelation and present in Kaneko’s art, but missing in Cranach’s woodcut, presumably due to the angle in which it is drawn. A curious feature about Mother Harlot is her skeletal visage: presumably, Kaneko added this feature to make her fit in with his versions of the Four Horsemen, who are also from the Book of Revelation.
Design-wise, there’s no doubt that Mother Harlot represents the Whore of Babylon. She sits upon the Whore’s iconic seven-headed and ten-horned scarlet beast, is dressed in red and purple, and holds a goblet full of “filth”. The veil, red toenail polish, skeletal face, and provocative manner of dress are all elements of Kaneko’s stylistic flair, and I feel it works well in this image. All of the fancy adornments combined with her relative lack of clothing is fitting for a prostitute, and the diamond patterns, strong underbite, vaguely human-like face and blank white eyes really blend together to make her beast look demonic.
Now, all this is great and all, but what does the Whore represent? Well, what she represents is actually unclear and up to people’s interpretation of her. Usually, she is said to represent nations who persecute Christians or churches that spread false gospel. Many also believe that her beast’s seven heads represent Rome’s seven hills. Since she’s a strong anti-Christian image, I can only imagine that the connection with Rome is due to how the Romans persecuted Christians at first.