LA’s Getty Museum Features Death in the Middle Ages and Travels Back to Greek Acheron River

“Heaven, Hell and Dying Well: Images of Death in the Middle Ages” is the subject of one of the summer exhibitions of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

From May 29 through August 12, the Museum will show the course of various customs of death as they have altered throughout the course of time. And of course, the myth of the punter transferring the souls to Hades or Hell in the Acheron River of Epirus played a major role in this matter.

The exhibition includes not only manuscripts but also printed books, a panel painting, stained glass and other media. Its purpose is to provide a map of what humankind was expecting beyond the grave when the deceased would travel to the netherworld.

Medieval references show deathbed scenes, funeral rites and the uncertain fate of departed souls, all covered by fear about the unknown.

As for the Beast Acheron, it is a medieval miniature made of tempera colors, gold leaf, gold paint and ink on parchment. This Getty Museum exhibit, attributed to French artist Simon Marmion, shows a soul punished in Hell for the sins made while alive. Marmion envisioned the entrance to Hell as the mouth of the beast Acheron, referring to the river.

The subject of death has fascinated humankind from ancient times to the present day either as a God-given event or a natural phenomenon.


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