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The Poisoned Embrace is a provocative investigation into the history of sexual pessimism as it has evolved in Western theology throughout the ages. Since the days of the Early Fathers, sex and death have formed a theological equation known as sexual pessimism. This aversion to the carnal, and its consequent elevation of the virginal and the chaste, springs not from Christianity, but from Gnosticism. Osborne examines the art, mythologies, and traditions of Christendom, and distinguishes thematic archetypes: the Virgin, the Witch, the Leper, the Noble Savage, the Jew, the Oriental, the Androgyne, and Don Juan. He traces our now-glorified ideal of sexual passion back to the Troubadours and Northern Mystics, and explores how the Passion of the Cross relates the ideas of sublime passion and therapeutic energy.