The Right Course Amid the Waves
Essays on Connections between History of Art, Literature and Philosophy
by Marilena Caciorgna
This book is a journey through art works and masterpieces, not only aesthetic but also symbolic and interior, exploring the human mind and its frailties. The artists, for their part, have spoken with the voice of their patrons and the creators of iconographical programs, expressing opinions and feelings that reconnect with the ideas of ancient philosophers, poets, humanists. Following the examples of the sages, mankind’s uninterrupted search has been to find a way to overcome the obstacles and ordeals that arise in the course of living one’s life. To use metaphors pertinent to the topics treated here, Man, in his navigatio vitae, always tries to move towards a portus tranquillus: for the philosophers of the ancient world, this is Wisdom; for the faithful, Religion with a veil over its face leading us towards death, the only and everlasting age in which it is possible to grow in the knowledge of God; for Hercules at the crossroad, Virtue; and Odysseus’s adaptation to unforeseen situations in his voyage that, though perilous, becomes a test of knowledge. The example of the ancients, who steered a steady course, will be helpful in pursuing, not so much happiness, as at least inner peace, serenity and tranquility of mind.
Marilena Caciorgna is Adjunct Professor of Iconography and Classical tradition at the Università degli Studi di Siena and is on the board of directors of the Accademia Senese degli Intronati. Her research activity and scholarly production are characterized by a methodology that connects art-historical studies to philological/literary ones, with particular attention to the iconography and history of the classical tradition (comments, translations, Nachleben and especially Rezeption). The result is an interdisciplinary investigation aimed at restoring the cultural climate of the artistic environment, with particular regard to the Age of Humanism up to the late sixteenth century. She has organized exhibitions and published numerous articles and books, including Il naufragio felice. Studi di Filologia e Storia della Tradizione Classica nella cultura letteraria e figurativa senese (Agorà 2004) and, with Roberto Guerrini, Virtù figurata. Eroi ed eroine dell’antichità nell’arte senese tra Medioevo e Rinascimento (FMPS 2003) as well as Il Pavimento del Duomo di Siena. L’arte della tarsia marmorea dal XIV al XIX secolo. Fonti e simbologia (Silvana Editoriale 2004) (Alfredo Cattabiani Special Prize and the Salimbeni Prize), translated into English as The Pavement of Siena Cathedral, 2011. With Sillabe, Livorno, she has published many studies, in particular the volume Virginis templum, 2013, on the Cathedral complex of Siena, translated into five languages.