Illness In The Arts Of Late Antiquity: Some Aspects Of A Christian Iconographic Programme

Bertrand Lancon


Nowadays concepts of Art are quite differnt from those of Antiquity. For instance, the healing ex votos which were sculpted in wood and dedicated to Sequana in the IIrd century were undoublty seen as crude works: today, they are considered as expression of popular arts, just like african statues. If art is defined by an esthetic purpose, and not only pragmatic, we can see no trace of sicks in the arts of Late Antiquity. There are only some examples in christian art, where Jesus' healing miracles are illustrated. Their iconographic representation doesn't dissociate illness from healing. This fact is highly representative of a christian iconographic programme, linking illness to carnal condition and healing to salvation. So, the arts of Late Antiquity teach us almost anything about disease, but very much about the perception of it and its pastoral use. 


Key words: Late Antiquity - Christian iconography - Healing - Salvation 

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