In the magnificent baptistery of the Duomo of Florence, there is a master work of the Infernal Majesty of Satan and the fallen angels, eagerly munching the tenderest parts of the damned. This may be one of the earliest artistic versions of Satan as the Pan-like devil we know Him as today.
This, and Marcovaldo’s other 13th century works incorporate a blend of Byzantine and Romanesque styles, popular in Tuscany in the time. But this image of Satan is something quite new, though old. These devils are a frightening hybrid of the Satyr and a more ancient god in Tuscany, Fufluns.
These pagan deities, whose domains were merriment, orgiastic revelries and having a good time in general, are now demonized to represent the downfall of sinners, and the mysterious fits of ecstasy of the Cult of Dionysis, only known by this time in rumors or works of Greek tragedy like Euripedes’ Bacchae, were now the Church’s tool of the imagination, used to keep the masses scared and afraid, and so obedient.
Continue reading “Hijacking Satan, Church Propaganda in Medieval Florence”
Taking a quick look at some of the ghoulish and misshapen figures, you might think this is something by Hieronymus Bosch. It’s actually a commissioned religious piece by Master van Eyck. Take a moment to appreciate the horrors of the pits of Hell that this man painstakingly rendered in the smallest detail:
Death looms over the Abyss with bat-like wings. Note with delight the amount of clergymen you can spot by their headdresses or tonsured hair. Very gratifying.
Meanwhile, this motherfucker is wearing some sort of flesh-crown and smiling with painful glee, while his ghoulish, fanged belly devours the ass of some sinner, all the while triggering your deepest trypophobia.
Here a Lovecraftian child of Dagon is fighting with a bear monster over who is going to get wing or the thigh of the next sinner entree.
Yes, people of the ancient world had imaginations just as fucked up as we do today, as you can tell by these demonic creatures that would look right at home in a Hellraiser movie.