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by Archaeology Newsroom

Judas’ Suicide by Hanging in Post-Byzantine Art

Judas’ suicide by hanging is represented rarely in the art of the Byzantine era as opposed to Post-Byzantine painting where his hideous deed is depicted quite often in the Cycle of Christ’s Passion accompanying the Repentance of the Iscariot and the Return of the thirty silver pieces to the high priest. The Post-Byzantine iconography shows Judas hanging from a tree that bows with the weight of his body and below this scene his blistered and swollen figure in the hollow of a cave. Two versions of this episode are distinguished in this period: In the first Judas is depicted as an agitated figure; he holts his feet, turns his head backwards and brings his hands to his throat, trying desperately to avoid throttling. This version characterizes the monumental painting of the so-called “School of Ochrid” and is more or less typical of the “Kastoria Workshop” to which a number of frescoes in northwestern Greece is ascribed. In the second version the Iscariot is represented dead, his body hanging motionless. The iconographic type originates from the late Byzantine monuments and is adopted by the Cretan painters in the Athonite wall paintings of the sixteenth century, as well as in other seventeenth- and eighteenth-century examples of monumental painting.