A Sodomite Is Punished in Hell

The drawing is based on Wetti of Reichenau’s vision of hell, which he wrote down in 824 AD.

A Sodomite Is Punished in Hell, 2023, ink on paper, 70 x 80 cm.

Church guidelines regarding sexuality in the early Middle Ages emphasised chastity and condemned homosexuality as a form of illicit sexuality. However, no specific stigma was attached to homosexuality, but sodomy generally referred to sexual intemperance. Later, the term became established as a strongly negative concept describing homosexuality.

However, in the vision received by Wetti of Reichenau, the absolute condemnation of same-sex acts is emphasised. Sodomites are even indirectly compared to the plague. The background to Wetti’s vision of hell is John Cassian’s thoughts on mortal sins, eight evil tendencies, which he describes in his work Institutes written in the 4th century. According to him, the cause of the destruction of the inhabitants of Sodom was the abundance of bread and justifies his claim with a reference to the words of the prophet Ezekiel.

In the drawing, the demons punish the soul barge by shoving a hot coal rod into his anus. According to the popular signature theory of the time, like improves like. This principle was also applied to punishments already in Hammurabi’s law.