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painting on the walls of any church.6 Presumably, this prohibition was mainly aimed at images of Christ and God, which under no circumstances were to be worshipped. The church felt compelled to differentiate itself from the pagan practice of veneration of images of gods and emperors.

However, this rigorous distinction was destined to be short-lived. Already in the late fourth century, the Spanish poet Prudentius composed his Dittochaeon, which contained quatrains contrasting twenty-four scenes from the Old Testament with twenty-four from the New Testament. Prudentius apparently composed these verses for an existing series of typological church paintings.7 The church needed to prove to its adherents that the Old Testament, as a de facto Jewish text and thus written in Hebrew, should be regarded as a book about Christ. All theologians and church fathers felt that it was essential to 'Christianise' the Old Testament. At about the same period Paulinus of Nola, a rich aristocrat, late antique homme de lettres, ascetic and eventually bishop, wrote the following in regard to his paintings in Cimitile: 'It may be asked how we arrived at this decision, to paint, a rare custom, images of living beings on the holy houses,' and answered his own question by saying:

Listen, and I will attempt briefly to expound the causes ... the majority of the crowd here, however, are peasant people, not devoid of religion but not able to read. These people, for long accustomed to profane cults, in which their belly was their God, are at last converted into proselytes for Christ while they admire the works of the saints in Christ open to everybody's gaze.8

The argument, 'He who cannot read should at least look,' was undoubtedly an ad hoc invention, imputing as it did a propagandistic persuasiveness to pictures that they did not always possess. If the power of paintings had been an issue at all within the church, suitable measures would have been taken to produce images whose meaning was accessible - although it is difficult to imagine how the church would have convinced artists to produce simple and readily understandable works. However, it appears that for the most part the church left it to the artists themselves to determine the composition and general style of their paintings. Mosaics such as those in the nave of S. Maria Maggiore in Rome (432-40) (installed at a height of 13 m), and especially mosaic in the church's triumphal arch (put up at a height of 17 m), could hardly be

7 Cf.Renate Pillinger, 'Die Tituli Historiarum'.

8 Paulinus, Carm. 27, ll. 542-51 (CSEL 30: 286), trans. Caecilia Davis-Weyer, Early medieval art, 19 (slightly altered).

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