The Last Judgment is a triptych attributed to Flemish painter Hans Memling and painted between 1467 and 1471. It is now in the National Museum in Gdańsk in Poland. It was commissioned by Angelo Tani, an agent of the Medici at Bruges, but was captured at sea by Paul Beneke, a privateer from Danzig. (A lengthy lawsuit against the Hanseatic League demanded its return to Italy.) It was placed in the Basilica of the Assumption but in the 20th century it was moved to its present location.
The triptych depicts the Last Judgement during the second coming of Jesus Christ, the central panel showing Jesus sitting in judgment on the world, while St Michael the Archangel is weighing souls and driving the damned towards Hell (the sinner in St. Michael’s right-hand scale pan is a donor portrait of Tommaso Portinari); the left hand panel showing the saved being guided into heaven by St Peter and the angels; and the right-hand panel showing the damned being dragged to Hell.
The Hebrew term Abaddon (Hebrew: אֲבַדּוֹן Avaddon, meaning “doom”), and its Greek equivalent Apollyon (Greek: Ἀπολλύων, Apollýōn) appear in the Bible as both a place of destruction and an angel of the abyss. In the Hebrew Bible, abaddon is used with reference to a bottomless pit, often appearing alongside the place שְׁאוֹל (Sheol), meaning the realm of the dead.
In the New Testament Book of Revelation, an angel called Abaddon is described as the king of an army of locusts; his name is first transcribed in Greek (Revelation 9:11—”whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, The Angel of Death.”) as Ἀβαδδὼν, and then translated (“which in Greek means the Destroyer”, Ἀπολλύων, Apollyon). The Latin Vulgate and the Douay Rheims Bible have additional notes (not present in the Greek text), “in Latin Exterminans”, exterminans being the Latin word for “destroyer”. According to the Brown Driver Briggs lexicon, the Hebrew abaddon (Hebrew: אבדון; abaddon) is an intensive form of the Semitic root and verb stem abad (אָבַד) “perish” (transitive “destroy”), which occurs 184 times in the Hebrew Bible. The Septuagint, an early Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, renders “Abaddon” as “ἀ απώλεια”, while the Greek Apollyon comes from apollymi (ἀ απόλλυμι), “to destroy”. The Greek term Apollyon (Ἀ απολλύων, “the destroyer”), is the active participle of apollymi (ἀπόλλυμι, “to destroy”).
Christian’s terrible combat with Apollyon’ leaving the City of Destruction’ from the ‘Pictorial Pilgrim’s Progress’ published by H. H. Lloyd & Co. NYC in 1862 based on ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress From This World, To That Which Is To Come’ by John Bunyan (1628-1688) first published in 1678.
(October is the month of nightmares so now seemed a suitable moment to air this sculpture, The Nightmare (1894) by Eugène Thivier, which I’ve had bookmarked for some time. Thivier (1845–1920) seems to be one of those artists who produces a single striking work with little else in the oeuvre to match it. The subject is a familiar one, of course, a variation on the sleeper menaced by an incubus or other creature of the night. A previous October post was devoted to Fuseli’s celebrated painted version; similar pictorial examples abound but sculptures of the theme are scarce. Thivier’s work is in the Musée des Augustins in Toulouse. Wikimedia Commons has a few more photos of the poor woman and her nocturnal tormentor.