Anonymous Byzantine-Ravenna, Pluteus illustrating Original Sin

Anonymous Byzantine-Ravenna,
Pluteus illustrating Original Sin

Anonymous Byzantine-Ravenna, Pluteus illustrating Original Sin
VI century, marble, 86X110x5 cm, Inv. n. 51

The slab was probably originally one of the plutei of the presbytery of the Basilica of S. Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna. It depicts the episode of Original Sin: the figures of Adam and Eve are stylised alongside an amphora from which two lush grape vines and a fig tree are growing. A serpent is also coming out of the amphora and is turning right toward the figure of Eve.

The presence of a smaller snake at the foot of the cantharus adds a sense of spontaneity to the scene.

The composition of the depiction is of vaguely oriental origins. In the centre, there is a symbolic value, in this case the vessel that contains the water of eternal life, in a paradisiac setting with animals and plants to communicate with an established traditional language deriving from the Greek-Roman world and interpreted with new paleo-Christian values where, for example, the birds that perch on the large leaves can be read as the faithful stopping on clusters of grapes, the emblem of Christ, of divine grace and eternal life.

Reused as a tombstone, it was found in the Osservanza Cemetery in Faenza. On the back, not visible as it is against the wall, there is an inscription dedicated to the policeman Ildebrando Topi, who died in 1821.

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