“Related in Luke 16:19–25, this parable tells of how a certain wealthy man, comfortable in his opulent home, ignored the sufferings of an infirm beggar, Lazarus, languishing out in the street. When Lazarus died, he was welcomed into the bosom of Abraham—a poetic description of the afterlife that came to be associated with Heaven. The rich man, who is not named in the Gospel, but was in later tradition called ‘Dives’ (the Latin word for ‘rich’), descended into Hell. Suffering in flames of hellfire, the rich man called to Abraham and asked him to send Lazarus with cool water. Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented.’”
“The central face of the capital portrays the two characters after death. Seated at left, Abraham cradles Lazarus’ tiny soul (now missing its head) in a draped cloth crossing his chest. At right a grotesque demon torments Dives (now half-devoured by a monstrous mouth), yanking his hair and tugging at his arm. Dives nonetheless manages to point to his mouth, indicating his thirst in the flames of Hell, though Abraham, holding out his left hand, clearly denies his request for water. Heavenly and Hellish realms are divided by a curving tree, a common technique for visually dividing spaces in medieval tradition.” (Julia Perratore, “Capital Depicting the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man,” _Glencairn Museum News_, Number 5, 2013; see External Link.)
- Julia Perratore, “Capital Depicting the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man,” _Glencairn Museum News_, Number 5, 2013.
- Jane Hayward and Walter Cahn, et al., _Radiance and Reflection: Medieval Art from the Raymond Pitcairn Collection,_ exhibition catalogue, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1982, pp. 80–81.