Though I’ve always enjoyed the action and adventure of the James Bond movies, I never saw much true romance between James and his Bond Girls until the train scene in Casino Royale when Eva Greene showed Daniel Craig that he had met his match.
Hmm, but I’m viewing these movies from a woman’s point of view and they are obviously tailored to male fantasies!
Not for nothing was the villainess of Goldfinger called Pussy Galore. All of those hot Bond girls falling into bed with James and then either being killed, or trying to kill him, come from a long tradition of mixing sex and spying.
I’ve been researching the topic of spying and came across a history of espionage that takes the subject from the beginning of recorded history. In The Enemy Within, A History of Espionage, author Terry Crowdy tells us that many of the ladies of the second oldest profession used the world’s oldest profession as their cover.
Recruited by the enemies of Israel, the Philistines, Delilah used her wiles to discover the secret to Samson’s strength, his long hair. While he slept, she had his head shaved, and then his enemies gouged out his eyes.
2) Zheng Dan and Xi Shi
In ancient China, the conquered King of Yue recruited two of the most beautiful ancient Bond Girls he could find to send to his conqueror, the King of Wu, as a tribute payment. But first the King of Yue had them trained. Their mission: distract the king from his responsibilities and alienate him from his wise prime minister. They were so successful, the prime minister was forced to commit suicide, the kingdom was weakened, and the King of Yue was able to successfully attack Wu. Before the king took his own life, he realized his error and killed Zheng Dan. Xi Shi was able to escape.
Here is an interesting category of female spy that I don’t think James Bond ever encountered. In ancient India, female spies engaged in the business of luring and killing men in the usual manner, but there was another type of female spy called a vishakanya or poisoness damsel. Crowdy’s description is very lurid:
The vishakanyas were female courtesans who from early childhood were given doses of poisonous herbs or the venom of snakes and scorpions. By the time they reached adolescence, although they themselves had become immunized, they were deadly poisonous to those who had contact with them–especially intimate contact. As with the legendary Sumerian female demon Succuba, to whom they have been compared, a night of passion with a vishakanya was likely to be fatal.
And then there is the Empress Theodora, wife of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian. Though not herself a spy, upon her marriage she became a ruthless spymaster to suppress gossip about her roots as a common prostitute.
Are there other ancient Bond girls I’m missing? Please shoot me a reply if you know of any, or if you have any recommended reading on the subject!
Images: Honor Blackmon as Pussy Galore, Wikipedia; all others, Wikimedia