Monday, June 22, 2009

Lot and his Daughters

Everybody knows Sodom and Gomorrah, the two cities which had been destroyed for the sins of their inhabitants by the wrath of God. Their names are proverbial, synonymous for vice and sexual deviation and perversion. And most people know that from all that destruction there was saved only Lot with his family, because he was the only good man in the two cities. Warned by the angels Lot escaped with his daughters; only his wife was turned into a pillar of salt, because she was looking back against the orders of the angels.

So far, so good, but from here on the story is far lesser known. Lot and his daughters took shelter in a cave. The daughters were convinced that they were the only survivors in the world and because of that it should be their responsibility to bear children and enable the continuation of the human race. On the next nights they inebriate their father and had sexual intercourse with him. They became pregnant as they wished and had later two sons. That was enough because mankind wasn’t extinguished as they had supposed.

It’s a really strange story. There are the people of Sodom and Gomorrah wiped out because of the sexual excesses, and some hours later good old Lot had sex with his own daughters. Sure, it’s well explained and he was so drunk, that he didn’t even notice what he was doing. And if there is someone guilty, that’s the women, who nearly raped the poor father. All that is more than ambiguous, it sounds like a petty excuse for the deeds of Lot. In modern studies Lot is cited as the model of the father, who had sex with his daughter(s).

The topic is controversial. But it’s not my intention to discuss what Lot did or not. For me he is first and foremost a subject in art; and he and his daughters have interested artists for centuries. And in these paintings can be seen the different interpretations. In some Lot is a poor victim, but in many he appears like an old horny seducer.

Lot and his daughters by the Italian Baroque painter Giovanni Battista Lama (1673-1748)

Here the daughters made their father drunk. In the background is burning Sodom and on the way could be seen the salt statue of the mother.


  1. You say in some paintings he is just a poor victim but I can't find any. If you can then please let me know, thanks.

  2. All are about men and painted for men. So probably if Lot isn't a poor victim, some may pretend so.
    Sure that's a cheap trick but art often works this way.