The Pope

Dance of Death: The Pope

The woodcuts now begin to depict various allegorical types of people, ranging from royalty to beggars. The first woodcut shows a Pope, the highest official in the Catholic church and one of the most powerful temporal leaders in the world at the time, begin accosted by Death even as he revels in his own power and glory.

In this woodcut by Holbein, the Pope is crowning an emperor who is kneeling before him - symbolizing his high estate even above the most powerful monarchs - but even as he does so, Death is creeping up to the Pope. Death embraces the pontiff with one hand and with the other leans on a crutch. Two grotesque devils hover over the Pope.

Next: The King

Dance of Death

Dance of Death

The Dance of Death is an important allegory commenting on human mortality and the passing transience of life. It depicts Death as a fairly jovial skeleton armed with a scythe, who invites his victims to a dance which invariably ends in their demise. The point of the allegory is that no one can refuse its invitation to the dance: hgh church officials, kings or paupers, all must dance and eventually die.