Sunday, November 21, 2010

Murder Most Foul

And Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and slew him.

And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?
Genesis 4: 8-9
King James Bible - 1611

This bas-relief in Berlin's Bode Museum is a graphic depiction of the moment when Cain strikes out against his brother. Though it has been seriously damaged, there is really no need to do anything other than imagine the violent action of Cain's right arm. Even without it the faces tell us the whole story.

Cain's face is twisted in anger at the Lord's rejection of his sacrifice and hatred for his younger brother. Even in profile it betrays the violence of the act he is about to commit.
Abel's face is filled with fear and astonishment. In his play Back to Methuselah Shaw maintains that the knowledge that Adam and Eve learned from the tree was the meaning of mortality. And I can see that knowledge in Abel's face.

21 novembre - La Presentazione della Beata Vergine Maria

1 comment:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Yes and how telling that religious jealousy and rivalry was the cause of the first murder. People have been murdering each other for that sorry reason ever since.