The Fall of Man

12th century
Palatine Chapel, Palermo, Sicily

The inscription on the left paraphrases Genesis 3:6, mulier (can't read the next word[s]) serpentis tulit fructum et comedit deditque viro suo, "the woman ?? of the serpent, took the fruit and ate it and gave it to her husband." The next words in the Vulgate are qui comedit, "he ate it." This detail is omitted from the inscription, but in the image Adam has indeed eaten of the fruit. The scene follows tradition closely, with Adam and Eve on the left and right of the tree and the serpent coiling around it. One novel feature is the pair of crossed bands shown on Eve's head in each of the three panels.

In the next panel God confronts the two, who hold fig leaves over their private parts. The serpent lies along the bottom of the scene. The inscription quotes Adam's reply when God asks where he is: vocem tuam audivi in paradiso et timui eo quod nudus essem et abscondi me, "I heard thy voice in paradise; and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself" (3:10).

Next we see the cherub with the flaming sword that God has placed at the gates of Paradise (3:24) and an angel hustling Adam and Eve out of the garden. They are wearing the tunicas of animal skins that God has made for them.

View this image in full resolution.
View other panels in the chapel's Genesis sequence.
Read more about Adam and Eve.

Photographed at the chapel by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.