Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Introducing the first image of the Devil!

The Judgment of the Nations, early 6th century C.E., Mosaic,
Ravenna, Basilica of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo, upper register of the nave.
This image of really poor quality is the first representation of the Devil (at least according to Jeffey Burton Russell). The Devil is shown without horns, and not as a hybrid, and without a psycho glare in his eyes, and with a halo. The best thing is the Devil is not even in red, so no fiery fires of hell, he is wearing light blue. Granted he is on the left of Christ not on the right and counting goats rather than sheep.
To me this image is enchanting its a first ever image and its so different from what we see 14 centuries onwards.


  1. What gives him away, then? To my untrained eye it would have been an angel.

    1. Dan, it really does! The goats are the main give away. The goat was traditionally connected with the Devil mostly thought Pan iconography (personally I think their eyes just scared everyone because the pupils are rectangle and look like horizontal slits). I added more about the imagery in the next post.

    2. Okay, makes sense. Interesting, cheers!

    3. Another clue that this is meant to represent the devil is that Cherubs were often portrayed as blue Angels. Lucifer, before his revolt, was described as God's 'Annointed Cherub'. If you thought this was an odd depiction of the Devil, now imagine Lucifer as a putto!