The representation of the sin of the flesh in Byzantine art, where one or more snakes attack the female genitals, most probably emerged as early as the tenth century, as part of the portrayal of sinners in the scene of the Last Judgment. Influenced by various visual sources accumulated over the centuries, it most probably became crystallized in Constantinople. Not surviving in the capital itself, as far as we know, it spread to different regions: Cappadocia, Syria, Serbia, and Greece. The invention of this motif may be credited also to accepted popular and theological thinking associating the sin of the flesh Porneia (Lust) with the image of female-snake. This idea, although translated visually by a similar image - snakes biting a female's genitals - assumed in the examples discussed an abstract character. It was most probably destined to provide a pictorial-moralistic mirror to the churchgoers, who were for the most part royal, aristocratic or monastic patrons.
|Translated title of the contribution||Porneia. Some considerations on the representation of the sin of the flesh in Byzantine art|
|Number of pages||19|
|Journal||Cahiers de Civilisation Medievale|
|State||Published - Jul 2009|