Gerardo Astorino
The Martyrdom of Saint Eulalia

1636
Oil on canvas, 156.7 x 80.7 in. (398 x 205 cm.)
Galleria Regionale della Sicilia, Palermo, Sicily
Provenance: Church of Sant'Eulalia dei Catalani, Palermo.

The image follows the details in Prudentius' Peristephanon. On the canopied throne the praetor Maximian orders Eulalia's execution. Below, she recoils from a servant's effort to strip her of her clothes. Behind her, two men set up the stake where she will be burned. At her feet a servant brings the instruments that will tear at her flesh.

The man whispering in her ear is more formally dressed than the others around her, so he is probably the lictor, One of the two officials Prudentius mentions, a lictor carries out the orders of a praetor. conveying Maximian's counsel that the girl not give up so much over nothing more than "a small portion of salt…and tiny grain of incense" – that is, the gesture of reverence made at the cult statue to which the lictor is pointing. The statue may represent Apollo, the only male god mentioned in this part of the Peristephanon.

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Photographed at the Galleria by Claire Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.