Duccio's Maesta

Rear view - Predella
Incidents in the life
of Christ.

2:The temptation on the pinnacles of the temple.

    The temptations of Christ  are by no means plain sailing for the reader of the gospels. John is the most straightforward - he doesn't mention them at all. Next comes this laconic account from Mark: 
     And immediately the spirit driveth him into the wilderness.And he was there in the wilderness forty days, tempted of Satan; and was with the wild beasts; and the angels ministered unto him. (Mark 1 v 12 - 13)

Matthew and Luke describe three different temptation events: in the desert, on a mountain, on the pinnacles of the temple. But they do not give them in the same order. It is desert - temple - mountain in Matthew,  desert - mountain- temple in Luke.  The desert scene is missing from the maesta; I've mentioned  in my discussion of the previous, blank panel the speculation that this did exist at one point. Assuming that the two existing panels, temple - mountain, are in the original order, Duccio is here following Matthew. 

   Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple,  And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.
 Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. (Matthew 4 v 5 - 7)


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