JF Ptak Science Books Post 2676
If you were to wish a foul curse upon the soul of the dead in Hell, then it is Prosperine/Persephone who would carry it out. The Hitman of Hades had the capacity to inflict damage upon the already damaged, what with being the Queen of the Underworld and wife of Hades. She is also the daughter of Zeus and the harvest goddess Demeter, so there is also that life/death struggle bit going on in the background.
This image is made from the painting by Pieter Brughel the Younger (1564-1638), son of Pieter Bruegel and part of the dynastic family of painters. (They spelled their surname differently, depending upon the time and the user.) The legend of the engraving tells us that "P. Breughel [sic] le jne, dit l'Enfer" was also known as the "Hell Brueghel" for his interest in depicting that place, and he certainly does live up to the nickname. Even though the engraving is pretty small (about 3x5") it does communicate at least the sense of what the painting delivered, which was a very detailed and massive account of the underworld. Even though the engraving is only a shadow skeleton of the original, we do get a sense of Mr. Cash's lake of fire, and though we see the torments of the damned we generally do not see what it is they are suffering from. Prosperine is at center left, having just arrived in Hell (according to the description1 of the plate found in Museé de peinture et de sculpture, ou, Recueil des principaux ..., volume 12, 18312, and behind her we see a river with boats dispensing new arrivals; at right, background, we see a gaping Hell Mouth though without fangs/teeth, which has at least one newly-damned trying to climb his way back into the mouth to perhaps retrace his steps to the surface of the regular world. The image is creepy enough without the color and great detail of the original, what with the dozens of horrified dead falling about and a floating pig-snake flying above.
The imagination ran high on the imaging of Hell, mostly for ever and ever--Dante, Botticelli, Japanese Hell Scrolls, Bosch, and on and on, though the flavor of it slacks off a bit when most of the image is white. So, if you were of a mind to do so, here's your chance to color in one version of Hell as you please.
1. "PROSERPINE AUX ENFERS. Le peintre Pierre Breughel le jeune est souvent désignésous le nom de Breughel d'Enfer parce qu'il aimait à traiter des incendies et des sujetsdiabcliques. On en voit un exempledans ce petit tableau où il a représenté Proserpine à l instant où elle arrive aux enfers tandis que tous les autres artistes anciens et modernes se sont pliis à retracer le moment où Pluton enlève la jeune déesse des riantes plaines de la Sicile. La fille de Cérès descend de son char et parait vouloir s'éloigner de l' endroit où sont assises les trois furies, Alecto, Mégère et Tisiphone. Mais en détournant la vue de dessus les impitoyables déesses elle trouve partout des figures monstrueuses qui Iourmentent les mortels. Le lointain offre la vue de bautes montagnes d où sort un grand fleuve sur lequel on aperçoit plusieurs barques remplies des âmes des mortels qui viennent de quitter la terre. Ce charmant tableau peint sur cuivre fait partie delà galerie de Dresde. Il n avait jamais été gravé."
2. I have the full set of 22 volumes for sale elsewhere on this blog--if anyone is interested in owning it, send me an email.