The Sarcophagus of Agape: Detail, Adam and Eve

The image collapses the successive events of the Fall into a single composition. Coiled around the tree, the serpent advises Eve as in Genesis 3:1-5 to eat of the fruit. After doing so, she hands it to Adam, who takes it (3:6). Then, realizing they are naked, they put on fig leaves (3:7). Finally, God's judgment, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread" (3:19), is signified by the sheaf of wheat at Adam's feet and the sheep at Eve's. (She will be spinning the sheep's wool into thread for cloth, the quintessential "woman's work.") This way of representing the "curse" of labor by showing the fruits of the earth is consonant with the upbeat message of salvation elsewhere on the sarcophagus.

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View the front of the sarcophagus

More of Adam and Eve

Photographed at the Museo Pio Cristiano by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.