August 29, 2014

Bring me the head of John the Baptist – and Alfredo Garcia...


Director Sam Peckinpah’s 1974 film Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, starring Warren Oates, is one of my favorite movies from the Seventies.

There are no famous quotes in it, but the film’s title is a modern descendant of a famous Biblical quotation associated with the date August 29.

About 2,000 years ago, according to the Bible, a rabble-rousing, hair-shirt-wearing, locust-and-honey-eating preacher known as John the Baptist mightily annoyed King Herod and his family.

Herod had married his own niece and they had a daughter.

Righteous John publicly denounced the marriage as incestuous and against Jewish law.

Herod threw John in prison. Not long after, the king threw himself a birthday party.

The featured entertainer was his daughter.

She’s not named in the Bible, but historical accounts say she was Salome – the one known for the exotic “Dance of the Seven Veils.”

Salome apparently tripped the light fantastic in an especially pleasing way at Herod’s birthday bash.

He told her he wanted to reward her by giving her anything she wanted.

At the suggestion of her mother, Salome replied: “Give me here John Baptist’s head in a charger.” 

That’s the original King James Bible version of what she said, in Matthew 14:8. It uses the old English word charger, meaning a large platter or dish.

Later translations and paraphrases of the line generally used platter, giving rise to more commonly heard variations like “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter” (English Standard Bible version) and “Bring me the head of John the Baptist on a platter (the King James 2000 Bible translation).

This led to the English idiom “to bring (or have) someone’s head on a platter,” which is a figurative way of suggesting that someone will be punished severely. 

Of course, in the Bible story (and in the movie Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia) it was a literal punishment.

Herod gave Salome her wish, by ordering John’s head to be cut off and brought to her on a platter.

In the centuries since then, August 29 has been the traditional date the Catholic, Anglican and Eastern Orthodox churches have used to commemorate the beheading and martyrdom of John the Baptist.

Alfredo Garcia, the beheaded movie character, is less widely remembered.

But he does have a special place in the hearts of Sam Peckinpah fans like me.

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Comments? Corrections? Post them on the Famous Quotations Facebook page.

Related viewing, listening and reading…

Copyrights, Disclaimers & Privacy Policy


Copyright © Subtropic Productions LLC

All original text written for the This Day in Quotes quotations blog is copyrighted by the Subtropic Productions LLC and may not be used without permission, except for short "fair use" excerpts or quotes which, if used, must be attributed to ThisDayinQuotes.com and, if online, must include a link to http://www.ThisDayinQuotes.com/.

To the best of our knowledge, the non-original content posted here is used in a way that is allowed under the fair use doctrine. If you own the copyright to something posted here and believe we may have violated fair use standards, please let us know.

Subtropic Productions LLC and ThisDayinQuotes.com is committed to protecting your privacy. For more details, read this blog's full Privacy Policy.