[the judges].'60 Judging from surviving evidence, representations of sinners within the painted programme of many village churches increased in the late Byzantine period, suggesting that accountability for earthly sins against church and society was an increasing concern of the laity towards the end of the empire when Byzantium was destabilised economically and politically.
But the picture for the afterlife was not exclusively grim. Those who were saved were promised entrance into Paradise, which was envisioned as a garden in Byzantine literature and art. Eulogies and inscriptions of the last Byzantine centuries make frequent reference to Eden or the gardens of Paradise. Deceased laypeople, in the late Byzantine period, are frequently represented in flowering landscapes, expressing their hopes of entering Paradise and manifesting, for the living, the fulfilment of their prayers. This manner of thinking is further expressed in the comparison of the deceased in contemporary texts to all manner of plant life - from cut vines to stalks of wheat ready to be harvested.61
While most sources describe Orthodox manifestations of Byzantine piety, we must recall that a large body of written and visual evidence witnesses the survival of deeply held superstitions and certain ceremonies that were the inheritances of Byzantium's antique past or the remnants of folk practices that were never completely expunged from the lives of the empire's citizens. The action of Maria Phrangopoulina, described above, in burning of a piece of the patriarchal robe, fell outside the acceptable boundaries of Orthodox practice. Images of women labelled as witches in wall paintings of the sinners in late Byzantine churches suggest that un-Orthodox practices abounded and were frowned upon by the church. Pagan practices were mingled with Christian ones in a number of rites, and these signal the survival of an ancient belief system that could not be easily suppressed. Calends, the celebration of the New Year on 1 January when gifts were exchanged and costumes worn, was derived from pagan customs and was censured, on occasion, by church authorities. More seriously Niketas, the twelfth-century metropolitan of Thes-salonike, confronted the issue of priests slaughtering doves over the tombs of the deceased, a practice redolent of paganism.62 The Broumalia, a late autumn Dionysiac festival celebrating the production of new wine, is also attested (and criticised by churchmen) well into the late Byzantine era. Several agricultural
60 Mazaris'Journey to Hades or Interviews with Dead Men about Certain Officials of the Imperial Court (trans.) [Seminar Classics 609] (Buffalo: State University of New York at Buffalo, 1975), 16-19.
61 Manuelis Philae Carmina. Ex codicibus Escurialensibus, Florentinis, Parisinis et Vaticanis, ed. E. Miller (Paris: Excusum in Typographeo imperiali, 1855), 1, 448-9.
62 Rhalles and Potles, v, 387-8.
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