Intro Programme Abstracts
Social Aspects of Hell: A cross-cultural approach


Rika Benveniste (University of Thessaly):
Medieval executions and the other world

To grasp the logic of the medieval system of justice and punishment one has to trace a continuum through and between spheres of life such as religious devotion, rituals, public spectacle and art. Ritual was not purely religious or secular and justice was simultaneously sacred and profane. Body, a common denominator for them all, was at stake. The Christian criminal was still seen as affront to God's laws just as surely as he was an abuser of civil code. In this paper I would like to point to some of the intersections between the sphere of divine justice and the sphere of temporal justice, as well as between religious imagery of the other world (Hell and Purgatory) and the spectacle of public execution.

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2005: University of Thessaly - Dpt. of History, Archaeology and Social Anthropology