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by Archaeology Newsroom

The Sin in a Popular Byzantine Scene

The universe of the sin is a sorted out universe- as are also the iconographic cycles of Byzantine painting in wall-paintings and portable icons. The properly arranged, perfectly sorted out figures, on which we comment here, belong to the iconographic cycle of the church of Hagia Pelagia at Ano Viannos, Herakleion, Crete, and they were painted in 1360. They illustrate the scene of Hell -which is part of the Last Judgment theme-, perhaps the most complete among all the relevant wall-paintings that decorated the churches of Crete in the Byzantine period. The study of such a representation underlines the deeply rooted belief of the common people in the original sin and in the almost full responsibility the woman has for it. This primary guilt exceeds any system of sins compiled and composed to serve certain sociopolitical purposes, and characterizes the popular thought and art. This iconographic interpretation of the Hell comprises the sin from the Old Testament to the Byzantino-Cretan reality and conveys an Ethic well-known to all of us, which concerns both the original sin and the position of the woman in the Myth and in everyday life, One wonders, if this ethical attitude is out-of-date in our time.