SODOMA, Il
(b. 1477, Vercelli, d. 1549, Siena)

Life of St Benedict, Scene 7: Benedict Instructs the Peasants

1505-08
Fresco
Abbazia, Monteoliveto Maggiore

Scene 7 of the cycle on the life of St Benedict depicts Benedict instructing the peasants of the vicinity who visit his cave, in the precepts of Christianity.

Several scenes of the cycle deal with the conversion and instruction of those with whom the monks come in contact (e.g. Scene 7).

Sodoma's characterization of types is very impressive. The simple peasants Benedict attempts to interest in the faith just outside his cave are delightfully exaggerated (Scene 7). One is afflicted with goiter, another appears to be a halfwit, and two are dressed in parodies of classical costume; the handsome shepherd on the right leans on his crook in the pose of a famous antique statue, the so-called Pothos.