Sinning women, part of the iconography of the Last Judgement, belong along with sinning men to the representation of the Hell theme. They are depicted naked with snakes coiling around their bodies and punishing them for sins described by inscriptions. This clear definition of the penalties paid by sinners is an iconographical variation that appears already by the ninth to tenth century and becomes very popular in the thirteenth to fifteenth century. The popularity of the theme, which almost becomes an indispensable subject in the wall paintings of Cretan churches during the fourteenth and fifteen century, in combination with the churches’ limited space due to their small size, leads to representation of the tortures suffered by sinners in independent scenes and not neccessarily in the subject of the Last Judgement.
The fact that the sinned are punished more often for faults of social and moral character than for penal acts offers the opportunity for a study beyond the iconographical analysis of the subject. Thus, through these representations one could indirectly make a thorough research on the social conceptions of an epoch, the beliefs and prejudices concerning vices, sins and evil. This is the objective of the present article, which through the representations of sinful women tries to find out the attitude and conception of an era about the female sex.