1 Luglio 2018

Force Constrained: Hercules in Sixteenth-Century Venice


Iconocrazia 13/2018 - "Iconocrazia: Art, Astronomy, Politics and Religion", Saggi

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The figural presentation of Venezia during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries embodied the “Myth of Venice” as an image in which Justice, the Virgin, Venus, and Dea Roma constituted an elastic personification embodying the State, together with attendant iconography thematizing such concepts as sleep and peace, in order to promote dominant aspects associated with La Serenissima including divine favor, rulership in accordance with Justice and Wisdom, inviolate preservation, wealth, peace, and piety.[1] This ideology waxed potent following the wars of the League of Cambrai (1508-16), during which the Papal States, Holy Roman Empire, France, and Spain had allied against Venice, stripped the city of its holdings on the terraferma after Venetian collapse at Agnadello (1509), and, owing to shifting alliances, allowed the Republic’s diplomacy to restore gradually the status quo ante formalized in the Peace of Bologna (1530).[2] Venice maintained its association with peace during an era when a forceful protector such as Hercules might have been logically coopted as an emblem of good government,[3] and minimized the demigod’s role even in the second half of the century amid threats to its eastern Mediterranean holdings, preferring instead Mars and Neptune as symbols of its Land and Sea territories, e.g., those sculpted by Jacopo Sansovino (1567) for the Scala dei Giganti of the Palazzo Ducale (Fig. 1).[4]


Figure 1

The exclusion of Hercules and his Labors from the celebration of Venetian power at the Arsenale seems emblematic: created under Doge Pasquale Malipiero, who emphasized peace as precondition for strength and stability, the Arsenale Gate (1458-60) constructed a fictive heritage extolling the triumph of Christian Venice as new Rome and, by extension, as bulwark of Christianity against the ‘infidel’ threat in the east but omitted representation of Force itself in any form.[5] Close examination discloses subordination of Hercules within official public imagery commemorating Venice during the sixteenth century. Artists seldom represent an unambiguously heroic Hercules in state allegory; rather, instances of his presence are relatively limited in number, inconspicuous in placement, often constrained to subsidiary aspects of his mythographic character, and even a bit dismissive in presenting him as a less-than-positive exemplar. This essay investigates results of cultural choices to embody such factors of Hercules’ mythic personality at the expense of his more traditional persona, results that by contrast implicate the ideal representation of Venetian ideology during the Renaissance.

Prior to the sixteenth century, Hercules had been favorably received in Venice. For example, reliefs showing Hercules at his Labors were incorporated within the façade of San Marco during the thirteenth century in honor of Hercules’ role as protector of Doge and State, based upon his reputation as “patron of the city of Heraclea – according to tradition, the seat of the first dogate in the lagoon.”[6] Still well-regarded during the fifteenth, Hercules constituted a touchstone for maritime empire: in panegyric for the election of Doge Pasquale Malipiero (1457), the humanist Raffaele Zovenzoni lauded Venice and its columns of Justice at the boundary of the piazzetta: “What shall I say of the singular city in which, scattered over the surface of the waters, stand the holy places of the fathers? Before the walls there, the columns of Hercules meet sailors entering the port.”[7] Fifteenth-century artistic practice evinced appreciation of typical Herculean feats and symbolism. At mid-century, Jacopo Bellini’s Flagellation of Christ (Fig. 2) transformed a rendering of the Arco dei Sergii in Pula by replacing Victories with roundels showing Hercules and the Rape of Deianeira by the centaur Nessus.

Figure 2

The latter commented by analogy on the principal scene of Christ’s Flagellation in the manner of the Ovide Moralisée, the Centaur’s poisoned cloak eventually leading to mortification of Hercules’ flesh and his self-immolation.[8] Similarly conflating classical with Christian virtue, Tullio Lombardo’s Tomb of Doge Andrea Vendramin, 1492-95 (Fig. 3), repeated the motif of the Rape of Deianeira in a tondo below and left of the arch, while three theological and four cardinal virtues surrounded the sarcophagus to situate classical virtue within Christian context.[9]

Figure 3

Slightly earlier, Pietro Lombardo had deployed others of Hercules’ Labors for his Monument to Doge Pietro Mocenigo, 1476-1481 (Fig. 4), where Hercules and the Hydra, military trophies, and Hercules and the Nemean Lion flanked the epitaph at the monument’s base.

Figure 4

Referring to Mocenigo’s deeds against the Turks, Herculean tasks compared him to heroes of antiquity just as funerary orations praised his virtues in comparison with the ancients.[10] Following this, though, images of the Labors of Hercules nearly vanished from public discourse in Venice during the sixteenth century.[11]

Hercules himself, however, appears in Jacopo Sansovino’s Libreria Marciana (Fig. 5), the first sixteen bays of which were constructed 1537-1553, with work on the interior continuing until 1560 and, following the architect’s death in 1570, with addition of five bays by Vincenzo Scamozzi; crowning statues on the piazzetta side were completed only after 1591.

Figure 5

Francesco Sansovino’s Venetia, città nobilissima (1604 ed.) designated these as children of Saturn, representing Occident, Orient, islands, and rulership of the riches of the Underworld, Heavens, and Seas. In keeping with this description, Ivanoff identified one terminal statue as Aeolus with his bag of winds in reference to naval trade,[12] while Zorzi named Hercules in order to complete a triad of mortals raised to Olympian heights in company with Adonis and Endymion. Regardless of identification, the crowning statue holds limited significance for sixteenth-century issues given its dating to the 1590s. Far more intriguing are Hercules’ roles in the staircase, the imagery of which establishes a neoplatonizing ascent toward divine knowledge attained originally in the vestibule where the Accademia Venetiana della Fama met to produce critical editions of ancient texts, and further articulated in the reading room beyond.[13] With regard to the staircase (Fig. 6), the ceiling’s initial branches contain stucchi representing temperaments, elements, and planets: in the first cupoletta are the four elements of physics: Earth, as female with compass and mappamondo; Air, as a personification holding windmill and flute that require wind to operate; Water, as Neptune; and Fire, as Hercules on his funeral pyre.[14]

Figure 6

Subsequent representations include Geometry, Arithmetic, Logic, and Music; the gifts of the spirit Harmony, Prudence, and Knowledge; a figure crowned with eternal glory; and an aged man holding finger to lips to invoke the silence of Contemplation. Above is Hercules (Fig. 6, top right) who, in company with Action as warrior brandishing sword, flanks Law; Hercules and Action thus refer to force applied without logic, i.e., knowledge of Averroist philosophy of the middle ages.[15] The ascending spirit advances from the elemental and human condition to true Wisdom as the exercise of virtue, and proceeds at last to the vestibule where Titian’s Sapienza (1560) dominates the ceiling overhead (Fig. 7),[16] a symbol of the library as temple of human Scienza.

Figure 7

Given imagery culminating in Sapienza, the Libreria Marciana constituted a Temple of Wisdom (Prov. 9:1) with knowledge grouped under headings of virtues, and thereby complemented the Palazzo Ducale as Temple of Justice across the piazzetta. According to Diana Gisolfi, the progression of roundels in the reading room’s ceiling (1556-1557) evokes Wisdom 6:20, “A royal road it is, then, this desire for Wisdom,” moving from themes to correct erroneous behavior toward Divine Wisdom by means of salutary lessons well learned.[17] The encyclopedic scheme inspired young patricians who convened in the adjacent Scuola dei Nobili to engage scholarship intertwined with instruction in virtue that prepared for actions in their anticipated adult roles.[18] Two of Giuseppe Salviati’s paintings in the second row present the issue of choosing the correct path in preparation for study or discipline, which is “The very first step toward wisdom…” (Wis. 6:18): one, Pallas Choosing Virtues over Fortune, evidently refers to “Temperance and Prudence she teaches, Justice and Fortitude”(Wis. 8:7); the other, Pallas and Hercules (Fig. 8), recalls Wisdom 6:1, “Wisdom avails more than Strength.”[19]

Figure 8

Hercules’ questioning attitude, pointing toward unseen antagonist below, perhaps led eventually to incorporation within the corpus of Aesop’s fables as “Strife feeds on conflict” wherein Hercules repeatedly clubbed a threatening beast that grew ever larger until Pallas counseled, “Cease your blows. The monster’s name is Strife. Let it alone, and it will soon become as little as it was at first.”[20] Reformulation as proverbial wisdom insinuates the popularizing of Salviati’s more erudite formulation, but either message, ‘Wisdom over Strength’ or ‘Strife feeds on conflict,’ constitutes a valuable lesson for patrician youths as future leaders of the most serene city in which Peace constitutes precondition for Strength, and Wisdom rather than Force dispels discord. In the Library, then, Hercules is presented on his Pyre as the element Fire; in tandem with Action, as Force lacking Intellect; and in the more prominent ceiling roundels, once again as Force ineffectual in comparison with the Wisdom of Pallas.

More positive is Veronese’s characterization of the hero in paintings for offices of the Republic’s magistracies. His mutilated Ceres Before Venice, Peace, and Hercules, c. 1570-75, (Fig. 9) has been interpreted as an allegory of the Republic’s wealth in grain that provides its Strength and Peace on the basis of the two figures attending Venice as she receives Ceres’ offering.[21]

Figure 9

Peace provides a precondition for Strength, however, so reading Hercules and Peace as equivalent figures disregards the priority of their roles, nor does it agree with the evidence of Van Dyck’s drawing (Fig. 10) which represents the composition before it was cut down.

Figure 10

Peace stands beside Venice as attendant; Hercules nearly kneels on foreground steps, braced by his club and bowing his head before royalty; situated one or two steps lower, Ceres herself and putto below tender offerings to Venice. A semi-crouching, club-supported Hercules hardly invokes Strength, and he presents himself more as companion or attendant of Ceres than of Peace; thus, the painting might be more accurately titled Venice Receiving the Homage of Ceres and Hercules,[22] since the homage of Ceres and Hercules relies upon the precondition of the State at peace. Hercules’ association with Land, if not Ceres herself, gains currency in two versions of Venice with Hercules and Neptune: Veronese’s painting, c. 1575 (Fig. 11), and an early eighteenth-century engraving (Fig 12); comparison of the two supports interpretation as the Republic’s riches on Land and Sea.[23]

Figure 11

Figure 12

The painting more clearly marks the globe with longitudinal and latitudinal divisions than does the engraving, but the latter defines rectilinear forms in the foreground, whether as beams bound together or single large blocks, with patterns that recall wood graining. The self-contained Hercules of the engraving turns eyes heavenward apparently in acknowledgement of divine favor; however, in the painting, he directly addresses viewers to establish emotional contact. Thus, while Neptune and putto offer pearls to Venice enthroned, Hercules’ gaze establishes a bond intimating mutual comprehension of wooden blocks as worthy gifts.

The two paintings’ original locations clarify allusions to Hercules that Veronese devised: Venice with Hercules and Neptune came from the Audience Room of the Magistrato delle Legne, the Magistracy for Firewood, located in the southwest corner of granaries overlooking the Bacino. Formally established in 1532 under authority of the Council of Ten, the agency eventually was designated the Magistrato alle Legne e Boschi to which was arrogated responsibility for the material (legna) and collection of duties. The addition of Boschi acknowledged that the provveditori acted not only in matters related to the sale of firewood, but also exercised more general authority over woodlands, that is, of strictures governing cutting, seasonal harvesting, supply-lines, and so on. By the seventeenth century, addition of a third provveditore specifically recognized representation of the Terraferma, Istria, and Dalmatia.[24] In an island city, firewood and timber constituted valuable commodities that the magistracy supervised, and they were products associated with the Terraferma over which, as we shall see, Hercules was custodian. Hercules and Ceres before Venice and Peace (Fig. 9) formerly was located in rooms at the Palazzo Ducale’s southeast corner, also overlooking the Bacino, in offices of the Magistrato alle Biade which “administered importation, storage, and sale of grain.”[25] The two offices, one located in the granaries, one controlling grain, and both overlooking the Bacino as symbolic entrêpot, administered products of the Terraferma, thereby intimating that Hercules’ presence refers to productive Land rather than to brute Strength.

In fact, Hercules had attended Ceres from the earliest records of the Italic divinity. On the brass Tablet of Agnone (c. 250 BCE) are inscribed references to rituals for seventeen deities within a “sacred grove of Ceres,”[26] and Hercules, in company with Jupiter, Flora, and Liber Pater, ranked among those known as Cerealis or “belonging to Ceres” who still were associated with her in ancient Roman cult practices. Subsequently, during the Roman Imperial era Hercules was initiated into the Eleusinian Mysteries dedicated to Ceres and Proserpina, and Roman authors elaborated Hercules’ role as implied by his relationship with Ceres. In the Georgics (29 BCE), Virgil celebrated Italy’s merit as its land’s productive power, invoking the aid of divine forces who hold guardianship over the fields: Liber, Ceres, Pan, Fauns and Dryads, Neptune and Hercules, Pales and Silvanus.[27] Horace’s Odes twice cited Hercules as a model of civilizing heroism who purges the world of monsters that challenge civilization’s order.[28] Hercules, acclaimed in an inscription as “Unconquered Hercules, holy grandson of Silvanus, you have made your way here, lest any evil happen here,” was worshiped for his power to avert evil from countryside and, according to Macrobius’ Saturnalia (ear. 5th c. CE), even shared a feast day with Ceres.[29] Moreover, the Veneto itself claimed the hero: according to Marin Sanudo in 1483, Brescia “was built five hundred years before Rome and was called the city of Hercules, and Hercules lived there; ….. but in this time, that is from 1440 on, when it came under the Venetian Dominion, it has experienced admirable growth and opulence.”[30] Not only did Sanudo provide classical foundations for Venice and its history, he also aligned the ancient guardian of countryside with the Venetian Terraferma. In Veronese’s paintings for offices that administered the land’s wood and grain, Hercules personified the Terraferma when paired with Neptune offering gifts of Sea and Land to Venice Enthroned and, “belonging to Ceres,” acted as guardian of its fertile capacities when introducing the goddess offering agricultural bounty to a Venice attended by Peace.

Hercules’ agrarian roles augment meager acknowledgement of the Terraferma in Jacopo Sansovino’s Loggetta, 1537-1546 (Fig. 13), a major declaration of Venetian ideology at mid-century. According to Francesco Sansovino, “…the façade of this small structure embodies the sea and land empire of their lordships.”[31]

Figure 13

Its principal reliefs display at the center Venice as Justice with only two river gods to represent the Terraferma, flanked by Jupiter symbolizing Crete and Venus as Cyprus. With regard to its statues (paraphrasing Sansovino), Pallas stands for active wisdom in defense of state; Apollo embodies Venice’s uniqueness and harmony; Mercury symbolizes its nobles’ eloquence and education; and Peace reifies the Divine gift guaranteed by St. Mark. Familiar themes subtly shift rhetorical emphasis since Pallas grouped with Peace not only denotes Pallas’ Wisdom but also intimates that Peace is product of War. The Loggetta states themes to be reprised in the Palazzo Ducale after fires of 1574 and 1577 necessitated renovation.[32]

Within the ducal palace, the Scala d’Oro accesses audience rooms preceding the doge’s apartments and presents imagery that allegorize ducal power. The ceiling’s stucchi and frescoes elaborate familiar ideas: they depict Venus’ birth and role as Dea Ciprigna; exalt the peace, prosperity, and concord of Venetian rule; and display Jupiter, symbol of Crete. Subsequently, Jupiter (not Hercules) with two bearded men asserts Venice’s Strength (Potenza). Exaltation of Venetian terrestrial and naval power concludes with the court of Neptune, and then shifts to honoring the State’s power and mission in the East. Finally, Venice Enthroned represents the Wisdom of its sovereignty in company with Faith, Charity, Hope, Divine Grace, Liberty, Prudence, and Virginity. Similar panegyrics praised the wisdom, justice, immortality, and divine favor of Venetian rule in the terminal areas, the Salotto Dorato and Sala delle Quattro Porte.[33] By contrast, at the stairway’s monumental entrance on the loggia of the piano nobile, visitors first encountered subjects that, like Sansovino’s Pallas and Peace, evoke conflict’s role in maintaining peace: Tiziano Aspetti’s Atlas shouldering the Heavenly Spheres and Hercules defeating the Hydra, c. 1577-80 (Fig. 14).[34]

Figure 14

Atlas, known as “Ever enduring,” might be interpreted as the virtue of perseverance or allusion to Venice’s divinely-ordained immortality. In combination with Hercules, though, the statues intimate a virtue increasingly valuable to the Republic, namely, sagacity. Hercules assumed Atlas’ burden so the latter could retrieve golden apples from the Garden of Hesperides, but the Titan, who hoped to jettison his task forever, was later tricked by Hercules’ plea to support the heavens’ weight momentarily while the hero adjusted his cloak as padding — whereupon he absconded in company with the precious apples.[35] The tale brings to mind Venetians’ tactics of sagacity, diplomatic dissemblance, and strategic retreat. As for the Hydra who regenerated two heads for each one sundered, Hercules ordered his nephew to cauterize the open stumps one after another until the hero severed the last head to dispatch the monster. Sagacity and strategy in this case accomplish that which mere force of arms could not. The injunctions to strategic wisdom may have facilitated militaristic action and may have been expected of Venetian diplomacy, but sagacity itself hardly constitutes a typical attribute of Hercules. Moreover, controlled access modulated appearance: patricians first viewed Atlas if approaching the portal from legislative chambers by way of the loggia; ambassadorial visitors encountered it by an indirect route,[36] mounting the Scala dei Giganti, turning down the loggia with an initial view of Hercules, and turning again to enter the Scala d’Oro. Finally, Hercules remained shielded from view for observers gathered in the palazzo’s courtyard by its placement within the arcaded loggia. As entrance to the Scala d’Oro’s triumphal imagery, Hercules presents an equivocal introduction, the manifold significance of which elicits repeated interpretation.

Hercules occupies a less ambiguous role in Tintoretto’s painting for the Sala del Senato, Venice as Queen of the Adriatic, 1584 (Figs. 15 & 16), which expounds a statement comprising sea and land offering riches to the Republic, and the State’s power, faith, and culture.

Figure 15

Figure 16

Presented as peers, six male gods wearing red garments surround Venezia: closest to her (heraldic) left is Chronos/Saturn, followed by Mercury and Apollo; closest to her right is Hercules, followed by Aesculapius and Jupiter.[37] Jupiter stands for military power; Aesculapius, for science and learning; and Hercules, protector of laws, loyalty, and oaths, is “Conservator” of justice. Apollo symbolizes arts and crafts; Mercury guides commerce; and Saturn guards wealth and systems of measurement, implying a compliment to senatorial competence in financial administration.[38] Symbolically, red-garbed gods evoke actual red-robed Venetian Councilors in the presence of a Grand Chancellor, the aged man seated apart at pictorial right, with all attending the doge in the guise of Venezia. Men below hold books suggesting governmental legislation, and a mid-distant group perhaps chants praise of Venezia, the inspiration for state well-being under the law. Farther below, peoples joyful with just conduct acclaim her, while Mars, Neptune, St. Mark, and Abundance look on from the sides as nereids and tritons present the sea’s riches. Within this allegory, Hercules assumes his place as protector of Law and Justice, balanced by Saturn’s assurance of just systems of measurement as basis for Venetian wealth, while other gods represent aspects crucial to a sound state. In the senate chamber Hercules evinces an instrumental role that seldom is afforded him in public imagery praising Renaissance Venice.

Finally, in Veronese’s Apotheosis of Venice (c. 1585), Hercules as living statue stands opposite Mercury (Figs. 17 & 18), both of them inconspicuous actors within the allegorical scheme for the ceiling of the Sala del Maggior Consiglio.

Figure 17

Figure 18

According to Gerolamo Bardi’s description, the three main allegories provide conclusions to achievements depicted in subsidiary imagery: they illustrate how, “from force of arms figured in the first painting” (i.e., Palma il Giovane’s representation of forcible subjugation to Venetian sovereignty), “and from love and voluntary dedication expressed in the second” (Tintoretto’s depiction of allegiance offered to Venice), finally “proceeds that effect of joy and universal jubilation” figured in Veronese’s celebration showing those privileged to enjoy citizenship under the Pax Veneta (Fig. 19).[39]

Figure 19

Venezia, wreathed with laurel and crowned with diadem, sits enthroned like the goddess Roma within an entourage of virtues: Fame trumpets her renown, Peace bears an olive branch, Ceres represents Abundance which comes from Peace,[40] and Liberty holds her symbol, the red pileus. The male with laurel askew probably denotes Honor, the female with crown and caduceus very likely represents Felicity (although lacking the cornucopia often assigned to her),[41] and the recumbent nude embodies harmonious and peaceful life resulting from Security.[42] Framing Venezia, Solomonic columns connote Wisdom that ensures Justice and bear the statues of Mercury and Hercules, often interpreted as Eloquence and Strength (fortezza); however, a note of force rings discordant within this fête honoring wisdom and peace.[43] Hercules may recall Security of the Terraferma given the verdant branch springing behind the architecture on which he stands, or he may replicate Mercury’s Eloquence as Gallic Hercules. Cartari indicates, “As for Hercules, although he wasn’t specifically identified with Mercury, there was no real difference between the two…[T]he Gauls worshiped Hercules as the god of prudence and eloquence…,” a concept already illustrated in Andreus Alciatus’ Emblematum Liber as “Eloquence superior to Strength” which concludes, “by eloquence the powerful speaker pulls even the hardest heart where he will.”[44] Gallic Hercules was adduced elsewhere in programs for the ducal palace, wherein ambassadors are called “‘caduceus bearers’, carriers of the sceptre of knowledge…like a Hercules in one of his guises, who with eloquence drew to himself various peoples.”[45] In the painting, though, Hercules rests his club and gazes toward Mercury’s upraised caduceus, an attitude that may recall his role in the Libreria’s reading room as Strength availing less than Wisdom, but here recast as Eloquence over Strength. Whether echoing Mercury’s Eloquence, intimating Venetian reliance on Eloquence over Strength, or implying the Terraferma’s Security, Hercules’ unobtrusive presence constitutes a late addition to the program and a marginal note within the allegorical whole.[46]

Hercules rested uneasily within the pantheon conveying sixteenth-century Venetian ideology. Jacopo de’ Barbari’s map, 1500 (Fig. 20), depicts Venice beloved by the gods, where Mercury, god of commerce, pledges protection and “shines favorably on this above all other emporia;” and where Neptune who luxuriates in the Bacino, “smoothing the waters of this port, makes Venice his home.”[47]

Figure 20

By 1546, Sansovino’s Loggetta presented Venice as Justice, Jupiter on Crete as sovereignty over lands, Venus on Cyprus as jurisdiction over islands, and in statues below, emphasized harmony as Apollo and well-being as Peace extinguishing the fires of war. In 1567, installation of statues on the Scala de’ Giganti proclaimed Venetian dominion with herculean Mars and Neptune standing respectively for the ‘stato di terra & di mare:’ not Hercules but Mars lent presence as military might even while the Republic increasingly pursued diplomacy rather than feats of arms.[48] Never excluded, Hercules instead was constrained to roles representing the element of fire, misguided reliance on force, guardianship of Ceres, the Terraferma itself, and perhaps even the primacy of ambassadorial eloquence. When granted more conspicuous placement, Hercules embodied military sagacity or custodianship of law, virtues tangent to his typical mythographic characterization. Hercules’ reputation for force moderated in view of cultural preferences for pacific connotations of the appellation Most Serene Republic and for figuration of Venezia that evoked ideals of justice, law, and wisdom, peace and prosperity, and piety and divine favor[49].



[1] See David Rosand, “Venetia figurata: The Iconography of a Myth,” in Interpretazioni veneziane:  Studi di storia dell’arte in onore di Michelangelo Muraro, D. Rosand (ed.), hg. v. dems., Venedig, 1984, pp. 177-96; idem, Myths of Venice: The Figuration of a State, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 2001; and Millard Meiss, “Sleep in Venice: Ancient Myths and Renaissance Proclivities,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 110 (1966), pp. 348-382.

[2] See Felix Gilbert, “Venice in the Crisis of the League of Cambrai.” In Renaissance Venice, J. R. Hale (ed.), Faber and Faber, London, 1973, pp. 274-292.

[3] For Hercules as emblem of governance in Florence, see e.g. Leopold D. Ettlinger, “Hercules Florentinus,” Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz, XVI (1972), pp. 119-142. Emma Stafford contends that Hercules occupies a prominent public position in Venice but does not examine his characterizations; see idem, Herakles, Routledge, London, 2013, pp. 219-220.

[4] Bruce Boucher, The Sculpture of Jacopo Sansovino, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1991, pp. 134-141 and 341-342. Sansovino’s gigantic statue of Hercules epitomizes Venetian reluctance to embrace wholeheartedly the hero: a commission by agents of Ercole II d’Este in 1550, the statue was placed in Ferrara rather than Venice; see idem, op cit., pp. 130-134 and 341. I thank Liana de Girolamo Cheney for reminding me of its significance.

[5] The Arsenale gate connoted an ancient Roman arch reused within the fabric of the Christian city of Venice; the Lion of St. Mark surmounts the structure but neither iconography nor inscriptions refer to force. See Richard John Goy, Building Renaissance Venice: Patrons, Architects and Builders, C. 1430-1500, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2006, pp. 144-149; and Ralph Lieberman, “Real Architecture, Imaginary History: The Arsenale Gate as Venetian Mythology,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 54 (1991), pp. 117-126.

Shakespeare’s Othello mentions a figure with drawn bow over the Arsenale gate, having formerly marked the residence of the commanding officers of the navy. Were the “Sagittary” a Centaur with drawn bow as some propose, it would constitute yet another substitution for Hercules as Force. See Horace Howard Furness, ed. Othello: A New Variorum Edition of Shakespeare, 13th Impression (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1886), pp. 25-26, n. 1 @ L. 173. I thank James Conlan for the reference.

[6] Patricia Fortini Brown, Venice & Antiquity: The Venetian Sense of the Past, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1996, pp. 21-22: similar reliefs set into palace façades from the 11th through 14th centuries probably also functioned as apotropaic barriers.

[7] For Zovenzoni, see idem, op cit., p. 105.

[8] Colin Eisler, The Genius of Jacopo Bellini: The Complete Paintings and Drawings, Abrams, New York, 1989, p. 327; for Hercules as allegory of salvation, see Brown, op cit., pp. 22 and 130.

In one version of the tale, Hercules dipped his sword in the Hydra’s blood so as to prevent regeneration of its heads; the blood on the sword later infected the centaur Nessus during the Rape of Deianeira, but since the poisoned blood was infected also Nessus’ tunic, the centaur had posthumous revenge when Deianeira convinced Hercules to don the garment; in another version, Nessus convinced Deianeira that his blood constituted a love potion that she then administered to Hercules. See Carl A.P. Ruck, “The Myth of the Lernaean Hydra,” in Goffredo S., and Dubinsky Z. (eds.), The Cnidaria, Past, Present and Future, (Springer, Cham, 2016), pp. 795-803, https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-31305-4_48 Accessed 7/18/18; and Jennifer R. March, Dictionary of Classical Mythology, Oxford, Oxbow Books, 2014, eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed August 8, 2018), S.v. Heracles, 2, “The Labours,” and 4, “Death and Apotheosis.”

[9] John McAndrew, Venetian Architecture of the Early Renaissance, MIT Press, Cambridge, 1980, pp. 462-64; Brown, op cit., pp. 69-72; and Wendy Stedman Sheard, The Tomb of Doge Andrea Vendramin in Venice by Tullio Lombardo, 1985.

[10] See McAndrew, op cit., pp. 123-126; and Brown, op cit., pp. 112-113.

[11] According to Nicola Ivanoff, “La Libreria Marciana. Arte e Iconologia,” Saggi e memorie di Storia dell’Arte, 6 (1968), p. 56, the Labors of Hercules are represented in subsidiary panels of the ceiling in the Sala delle Quattro Porte; however, the room was reconditioned in the 17th century and the soffit restored in the 18th, so the Labors’ inclusion during the 16th is questionable. See also Rodolfo Pallucchini and Paola Rossi, Tintoretto, Electa, Milan, 1990, pp. 207-208; Staale Sinding-Larsen, Christ in the Council Hall: Studies in the Religious Iconography of the Venetian Republic, “L’ERMA” di Bretschneider, Rome, 1974, pp. 14-16 and 241-244; and Loredana Olivato, “Provvedimenti della Repubblica veneta per la salvaguardia del patrimonio pittirico nei secoli XVII e XVIII,” Istituto Veneto di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, Memorie XXXVII, fascicolo I, Venezia, 1974, pp. 28-29.

[12] For the program, see Ivanoff, op cit., pp. 44-47 and 55-57; for the statues, see also Marino Zorzi, La libreria di San Marco: libri, lettori, società nella Venezia dei dogi, Mondadori Editore, Milan, 1987, p. 141. Zorzi accepts much of Ivanoff’s discussion, with exception of Hercules/Aeolus. For the structure, see Deborah Howard, Jacopo Sansovino: Architecture and Patronage in Renaissance Venice, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1987, pp. 17-28.

[13] See Ivanoff, op cit., pp. 41-42 and 45ff; the iconography characterizes the Libreria as a temple of the Muses; see also Zorzi, op cit., p. 140.

[14] For photographs, see Ivanoff, op cit., p. 177, Figg. 42-45, and pp. 61-62; unless otherwise noted, the abridged description that follows is based on her pp. 60-65. For the elements, see also Zorzi, op cit., p. 457.

[15] Zorzi, op cit., p. 145, interprets both warrior and Hercules as Action.

[16] Filippo Pedrocco, Titian, Rizzoli, New York, 2000, p. 267.

[17] Diana Gisolfi, “On Renaissance Library Decorations and the Marciana,” Ateneo Veneto, 197 (2011), pp. 8-14; Zorzi, op cit., p. 128; and Ivanoff, op cit., pp. 64-65. For Veronese’s role in the commissions, see Terisio Pignatti, Veronese, Alfieri, Venezia, 1976, pp. 49-52.

[18] For the scheme, see Juergen Schulz, Venetian Painted Ceilings of the Renaissance, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1968, pp. 93-95; Ivanoff, op cit., pp. 69-72; Zorzi, op cit., pp. 143-152; and Gisolfi, op cit., pp. 17-21. All agree that the scheme celebrates subjects of learning and virtues inculcated thereby, whether as an encyclopedic mirror of branches of learning and the liberal arts depending upon Medieval precedents, or as the unity of all study and virtue under Divine Wisdom toward which viewers progress. Thus, for Gisolfi, the book of Wisdom constitutes a natural reference point.

[19] Schulz, op cit., pp. 93-96; and Gisolfi, op cit., p. 18.

[20] By 1485, an Italian edition of the same branch of the text that William Caxton translated was published in Venice; see Joseph Jacobs, ed., The Fables of Aesop as first printed by William Caxton in 1484…, Vol. 1, History of the Æsopic Fable, New York, Burt Franklin, 1970, reprint of 1889 ed., pp. 186-187 and 191-192. In the 17th century, Roger L’Estrange increased the number from Caxton’s 160 to 500 in his Fables, of Aesop and other eminent mythologists: with morals and reflections, London, John Gray, 1669,  https://archive.org/details/fablesofaesopoth00lest, accessed 01/04/17. Since the fable was not included in early editions of Aesop, Salviati’s roundel is probably based on Wisdom 6:1 as Gisolfi suggests, from which point it eventually supplemented the corpus of fables.

[21] Schulz, op cit., pp. 27 and 102-103; and Pignatti, op cit., p. 140.

[22] Rosand, Véronèse, Citadelles & Mazenod, Paris, 2012, p. 367.

[23] For the painting, see Schulz, op cit., p. 139; and Pignatti, op cit., p. 140. Schulz identified its location as the Granari Pubblici [Casaria di San Marco, Fabbriche di Terra Nuova], formerly in the Audience Room of the Magistrato delle Legne. See also Veronese: Gods, Heroes, and Allegories, Skira Editore, Milan, 2004, p. 130, which interprets the figures as the “strength of Venetian State” and “the sea from which Venice derived its wealth.”

[24] The Magistrato e Provveditori della Lenga had been recommended as an adjunct to the Ufficio della Giustizia Vecchia as early as 1452; see Marco Ferro, Dizionario del diritto commune e veneto, Vol. 2, Andrea Santini e Figlio, Venezia, 1847, pp. 182-183; and Cristoforo Tentori, Saggio sulla Storia Civile, Politica, Ecclesiastica e sulla Corografia e Topografia degli Stati della Repubblica di Venezia ad uso della nobile e civile gioventù, Vol. 8, Giacomo Storti, Venezia, 1787, pp. 286-288.

[25] Schulz, op cit., pp. 27 and 102-103.

[26] For Hercules’ cult through the Roman Imperial period, see Barbette Stanley Spaeth, The Roman Goddess Ceres, University of Texas Press, Austin, 1995, pp. 2-3, 26-27, and 61-62.

[27] Arthur L. Keith, “Vergil and the Soil,” The Classical Journal, 33/9 (1938), p. 531, citing Geor. I, L. 168, and Geor. IV, LL. 317-558.

[28] Michael C. J. Putnam, Artifices of Eternity: Horace’s Fourth Book of Odes, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, 1986, pp. 97-99, citing Odes 4 and 5.

[29] Idem, op cit., p. 112 @ n. 26.

[30] Itinerario di Marin Sanuto per la terraferma veneziana nell’anno MCCCCLXXXIII, cited by Brown, op cit., pp. 159 and 318.

[31] Boucher, op cit., pp. 80, 73-88 and 334-335; and Howard, op cit, pp. 28-35.

[32] See Sinding-Larsen, op cit., pp. 1-12.

[33] For complete description of iconography, see Ivanoff, “La scala d’oro del Palazzo Ducale di Venezia,” Critica d’arte, 8/47 (1961), pp. 28, 30-32, and 35-40. For the Salotto Dorato and Sala delle Quattro Porte, see also Schulz, op cit., pp. 101-102; Sinding-Larsen, op cit., pp. 238-239; Rosand, Myths, pp. 140-144; and Pallucchini and Rossi, op cit., pp. 209-210.

[34] For Aspetti, see Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani, Vol. 4, 1962, S.v. Tiziano Aspetti, by Estella Brunetti, http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/tiziano-aspetti_%28Dizionario-Biografico%29/, accessed 01/07/17.

[35] March, op cit., S.v. Atlas.

[36] For ambassadorial access, see Michelangelo Muraro, “La Scala senza Giganti,” in De Artibus Opuscula XL, Essays in Honor of Erwin Panofsky, M. Meiss (ed.), New York University Press, New York, 1961, pp. 350-370.

[37] Wolfgang Wolters, “Der Programmentwurf zur Dekoration des Dogenpalastes nach dem Brand vom 20 Dezember 1577,” Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz, 12 (1966), pp. 271-273; Schulz, op cit., pp. 112-114; Sinding-Larsen, op cit., pp. 247-249; and Pallucchini and Rossi, op cit., p. 232.

[38] See Annette Kuhn, “Appendix I,” in Sinding-Larsen, op cit., pp. 266-268; and March, op cit., S.v. Asclepius.

[39] Cited by Schulz, op cit., p. 110; see also pp. 107-111. The program is attributed to the Camaldolese monk Gerolamo Bardi and Provveditori Jacopo Marcello and Jacopo Contarini; see Pignatti, op cit., p. 156; and Sinding-Larsen, op cit., pp. 22-24 and 232-237. For the allegories by Palma and Tintoretto, see idem, op cit., pp. 224-230; for Veronese’s imagery that follows in text, see Rosand, Myths, pp. 149-150; and for Venezia’s derivation from Roman coinage, see Cornelius C. Vermuele, The Goddess Roma in the Art of the Roman Empire, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1959, pp. 46-48.

[40] Andreus Alciatus. Vol. I, The Latin Emblems: Indexes and Lists, P. M. Daly (ed.), University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 1985, Emblem 179, “Abundance from Peace:” the epigram reads in part, “…weave delicate garlands (corolla) from ripe stalks…the season will be a happy one for Ceres…”.

[41] Felicity elides with Fortune since they share attributes of caduceus and plentitude of gems: see Vincenzo Cartari’s “Images of the Gods of the Ancients”: The First Italian Mythography, J. Mulryan (trans.), Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Tempe, 2012, p. 371. She is sometimes termed Security; for Security and Public Felicity as described in Cesare Ripa’s Iconologia, see Sinding-Larsen, op cit., p.230; for the male figure, also interpreted as Security, see idem, op cit., pp. 230-231.

[42] Peace and Harmony “…were one and the same thing, both adored by the ancients, in exchange for a quiet and peaceful life”; Cartari, op cit., pp. 249-250.

[43] See Rosand, Véronèse, pp. 370-374. Veronese, op cit., pp. 140-141, identifies Mercury as Mars; however, for Mercury wearing armor, see Barbara C. Bowen, “Mercury at the Crossroads,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 48 (1985), pp. 222-229; for Mercury and Hercules accompanying Roma, see Vermeule, op cit., p. 46. For the painting’s lower portion as reference to force of arms, see Wolfgang Wolters, “Arte come propaganda nel Cinquecento veneziano,” pp. 640-641 in Da Bellini a Veronese: Temi di arte veneta, Venezia, Istituto veneto di scienze, lettere ed arti, 2004.

[44] Cartari, op cit., pp. 265-266. Alciatus’ image includes chains leading crowds by their ears; see Stafford, op cit., pp. 215-217.

[45] David Chambers and Brian Pullan, Venice: A Documentary History, 1450-1630, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, 2001, p. 400. The description derives from the program for the Sala delle Quattro Porte, one of the chambers terminating the Scala d’Oro.

[46] The modello omits both statues; see Veronese, op cit., pp. 140-141.

[47] Rosand, Myths, pp. 12 and 119.

[48] Idem, op cit., p. 121.

[49] A version of this essay was presented at a meeting of the South Central Renaissance Conference. For insightful discussion, I owe thanks to Liana de Girolami Cheney, James Conlan, John Alexander, Jill Carrington, and Ellen Longsworth; and, for their gracious assistance, I thank the editors of Iconocrazia.

Brian D. Steele

Associate professor of art history at Texas Tech University Associate dean in the Talkington College of Visual & Performing Arts and director of its Fine Arts Doctoral Program

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