Lincoln (Lincolnshire)

This detail from the fine, restored South doorway of the cathedral shows Adam and Eve sucking each other's thumb - either a symbolic sexual innuendo, or a depiction of what would have been thought extremely perverted and damnable by Christian moralists.

Instead of Satan in the form of a serpent, there are two snakes: one has swallowed curly-haired Adam's penis, while the other simply lays its head expectantly on Eve's belly.

The connection between this interpretation of the Fall of Man and the Luxuria motif is obvious.










Part of the famous frieze recently restored on Lincoln Cathedral, with Hell symbolised as a beast (head at 90°)
with open jaws swallowing the damned.

Compare with another famous example at Vézelay (Yonne), also featuring the Weighing of the Souls.

By the time the West Front of Notre-Dame de Paris was sculpted, prudery had set in (all the damned are clothed)
and the Jaws of Hell had disappeared.

On the Lincoln frieze, however, Jesus is present, for, according to the Gospel, he descended into Hell,
which event is known as the Harrowing of Hell.
He is shown wearing a crown and standing on the bound body of the conquered Satan.

On another part of the frieze is the sin of Luxury (below, left).
Note the gold rings and what look like a matching pair of very expensive pet (!) wyverns
punitively munching their genitals.
On the right is Sodomy– not in the modern sense, but Concupiscentia, one of the Sins against Nature:
in this case the Greek affection of a bearded man for a beardless youth,
here tormented by serpents while a demon yanks at their hair.

The third and fourth panels show Avaritia (wealth, hoarding of money) with his moneybag, a serpent devouring his genitals,
and what looks very like Sodomy about to be committed by two men of similar age.


(I have pointed out elsewhere on this site that the English language has perverse translations of the Deadly Sins.
Luxuria = the debauchery of the rich
Avaritia = the hoarding of the wealthy
Accidie = despair and depression…
The original Latin meanings (themselves translated from the Greek and revised by Pope Gregory I)
survive in the equivalent words in Italian, French, Spanish, etc.)

On the W door, a rich woman wearing pearls is handing a box (containing jewels ?)
to a rich man with a satchel, who may be a moneylender or a tax-collector.

previous three photos by Tina Negus


The tympanum of a later doorway on the SE side of the cathedral, known as The Judgement Porch
features Christ as Judge within a Mandorla and, below his feet, the jaws of Hell.

Detail of the above, showing the shaggy Wild Man or Wodehouse with erect penis,
whose glans is a human face.

last two photos by Darren Matthews