“Satan Deceives Eve by Means of the Serpent”

Ludolphus de Saxonia (supposed author). From Le Miroir de Humaine Salvation (The Mirror of Human Salvation), Circa 1455.

Image of Satan Deceives Eve by Means of the Serpent

Diabolus decepit evam per serpentem. This image (on right) from an illuminated manuscript shows Satan, disguised as a serpent with the head and torso of a woman, in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve.

But, alas, this noble wealth, joy, peace, delight, ease, and good fortune did not last them very long. On the contrary, just as they were at the height of felicity, so was their fall into misery as far, and farther. For the accursed foe, envious of the fact that Adam lived in such majesty that he lacked nothing on earth, with his conniving mind that brings everyone to the same end as his, that is to say, into a state of perpetual torment, cunningly put on the guise of a serpent with a woman’s face. And while Adam was busy by himself, this foe, knowing that Eve was weak, credulous, and less prudent than her husband, appeared to her with sweet words honeyed with the most venomous poison. And when this reptilian devil had lured her into conversation, he began to say to her, … “Why has God forbidden you to eat of the tree of life?” Eve answered the serpent, “Lest we die.” Said the serpent, … “Oh woman, neither you nor your husband will ever die if you eat of it only once, but you will have power as great as God’s, and will never be subject to anything. Rather, you will do just as you please.” She decided to ask Adam if they could taste the fruit, and what is more, without the advice, knowledge, or consent of her husband, Adam, she tasted it.

Then Eve began in haste to look for her dear husband, Adam, to whom she revealed the serpent’s word, which had been confided to her as a very special boon. So great was her guile that she weakened the firm resolve of this man to achieve her will. For, going against the commandment of God, he took an apple from the tree, and ate of it. And thus, a woman’s alluring charm brought success to a venture which the devil, for all his cunning, would not have dared to attempt, whatever the means at his disposal. Oh how cruel is ingenuity when it weakens and unsettles the resolute heart of man, with whom the evil one would not otherwise have dared to fight for fear of resistance. Indeed, how very distressing were the blandishments of the woman who corrupted man’s will with her deceitful wiles, and caused him to commit such a criminal act that he could not make amends for it by himself. Oh poor sad heart, ennobled a while ago, now suddenly led astray by a female voice bewitched with reptilian guile. Why did you not resist that diabolic messenger of your fall, raised for you? Sad hope, did you not consider what would come of this? Did you not believe you would be cast down from your high estate, as is now the case. For when God saw Eve’s false deception, and when He saw the will of Adam so alienated and captivated that he had transgressed His special commandment, He came to the sinner, saying, … “Cursed is the ground in thy work and labor, for thorns and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat thy bread in the sweat of they face.” Then He cursed Eve and the serpent… Adam began to feel shame, and covered his nakedness, struck by such a grievous pain, and such a severe pang of anguish that man could not imagine it… For her part, Eve found her former joyful diversions much degraded. By her rash deed she, like an empty-headed woman, hoped to be like God and join Him in heaven by means of the accursed fatal bite of the apple. So much harm in one bite. For, it fell to her lot to be expelled from paradise, and obliged to die a final death. This certainly would not have happened if she had not tasted the apple.

From “Mirror of Human Salvation.” Translated by David Wright with the assistance of John French, Jr. pp. 1–5. Newberry Call No. folio BS478 .S64

Image of Satan Deceives Eve by Means of the Serpent

Detail. Satan Deceives Eve.

Metadata Details
Item Type Book Section
Title Satan Deceives Eve by Means of the Serpent
Publication Title Le Miroir de Humaine Salvation (The Mirror of Human Salvation)
Short Title Satan Deceives Eve, 1455
Book Title Le Miroir de Humaine Saluation
Creator Ludolphus de Saxonia (supposed author)
Publication Date Circa 1455
Pages folio 2 recto
Language Latin and Middle French
Call Number VAULT folio Case MS 40
Location Special Collections 4th floor