Torments Of Damned
On the soffit of the south arch of the narthex, depictions of the Torments of the Damned are placed.
On the western side, the representations refer to group punishments and they are developed within rectangulars. These are the worm that sleepeth not, the gnashing of teeth, Tartarus and the outer darkness. The group of people in each representation are discerned only via symbols and inscriptions such as white lines corresponding to worms in the panel of Worm that Sleepeth Not, visible teeth for the scene of the Gnashing Teeth, poor light in the scene of Tartarus and dark light for the Outer Darkness. An important detail is that the figures are turned to the centre of the narthex where Christ, the Supreme Judge, is pictured while raised eyebrows and brown brushstrokes on the face of the condemned declare grief and torture.
Regarding the subject of the scenes, these are mentioned in apocalyptic texts and church hymnography. The Worm, the Gnashing of Teeth and the Outer Darkness are representations drawn by the Gospels of Mark and Matthew and are sung again and again in troparia. However, Tartarus is an unusual appearance in iconography and hymnography.
In terms of iconography, the representation of the damned as a unified group, half lengthened as in Asinou, belongs to a long-standing tradition which is abandoned in the Palaiologan era. From this period on, the damned are represented in full length and separated.
By contrast, on the eastern side of the southern arch of the narthex, individual torments are represented. As on the opposite side, the four scenes are developed within square partitions and are identified as: he who ploughs over the boundaries and the dishonest miller, the thief and the slanderer, the usurer and falsifier of weights and the faithless nun, the faithless monk and the woman who refuses to nurse her children.
The figures are depicted naked, bounded by restraints and hanged over flames. The equipment, symbols and inscriptions which accompany the figures contribute to distinguish the identity of each one. In fact, those symbols and the message of each scene have a didactic purpose and an apotropaic impact to the agrarian congregation of Asinou.
Most possibly the selection of the specific individual sins portrayed in Asinou represents the rural and monastic environment of the Phorviotisa monastery. Counterparts in Venetian Crete, such as village churches, follow a common tradition depicting aspects of the local historical and social conditions such as crimes in an agrarian society.