"Temptations of St. Anthony"
Temptation of St. Anthony
Public DomainTemptation of St. Anthony

A popular theme of Western art and literature, based on a tale first related by Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 293 – 373), who wrote that his contemporary, Anthony of Egypt, had fought temptations by the devil in the form of boredom, laziness, and phantoms of women, then was beaten unconcious by the devil while living as a monastic in the desert. Later attacks came in the form of wild beasts, wolves, lions, snakes, and scorpions, but Anthony turned all of these away by prayer and laughter.

Frescoes of the temptations of St. Anthony began to appear in Italy in the 10th century, and painters from Hieronymus Bosch to Salvador Dali, and writers such as Flaubert, have used St. Anthony’s ordeals as the subject of their work. This diptych is by Bosch (c. 1450-1516).