The Medici pope, curative puns, and a panacean dwarf in the Sala di Costantino.
In 1513, Giovanni de' Medici realized his family's great ambition when he was elevated to the papacy, thus bringing bona fide Mi princely stature to the Florentine banking dynasty. Adopting the name Leo X and embracing the well-established pun on the Medici name meaning "doctors" in Italian, the new pope embarked upon an ambitious propagandistic campaign inspired by a venerable epithet, Christus medicus, or Christ the healer. (1) To that end, he sponsored a variety of activities, religious initiatives, and artistic commissions that played to the theme of healing. Leo's supporters and flatterers responded in kind. An abundance of panegyrics, orations, and other texts written during his reign all expressed the idea that the Medici pope was a new medicus sent to cure the ills of the Church and the world, a veritable savior to usher in an age of peace and prosperity. (2)
Such ideas are a subtext of the frescoes decorating the Sala di Costantino in the Vatican, which illustrate key events attributed to the life of the first Christian Roman emperor. (3) Located in the papal apartments, the room was used for special Masses and official functions as well as more festive occasions including weddings and banquets. It was also a fitting venue for the pontiff to receive ecclesiastical and secular dignitaries, where his princely artistic patronage was on full display. Having awarded the fresco commission in 1517 to Raphael--one of the most famous artists of the era--Leo's reputation as pope and Medici scion was doubly enhanced. (4) No doubt Leo took additional pleasure in the fact that the very artist chosen to articulate his propagandists vision himself bore the name of the Archangel of healing.
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Although Raphael designed the entire pictorial program, by his untimely death in 1520 only the so called Vision of the Cross and Battle of the Milvian Bridge scenes were in place (fig. 1). Notably, his original plans had also called for a depiction of Constantine's miraculous healing, which was subsequently jettisoned in favor of the Donation and Baptism scenes that now grace the remaining walls. (5) For our purposes, the most important of these frescoes is that of Vision (Adlocutio) on the east wall (fig. 2). Framed by representations of past popes and allegorical female figures, the composition shows Constantine receiving his divine vision before the decisive battle against his rival Maxentius. As he addresses his troops, the soon-to-be emperor looks up to the sky to see the sign that would assure his victory: three angels carrying the cross, and the inscription in Greek "EN TOYT[??]I NIKA" (In this sign you shall conquer) (fig. 3). (6) The intensity of the moment is amplified by the gathering storm clouds overhead and by the soldiers who surge en masse towards Constantine as he speaks. Meanwhile, off to himself in the right foreground, an unruly dwarf lifts a huge helmet over his head and diverts his eyes in the opposite direction, adding an unexpected note of levity as the drama unfolds.
As might be surmised from the cover of a recent text (fig. 4), the dwarf's appearance in the iconographical scheme has typically generated little scholarly interest. (7) Attributed to Giulio Romano, who completed the fresco after Raphael's death, the dwarf has often been interpreted as a gratuitous expression of Romano's artistic license. (8) He has also been identified (erroneously) as an actual denizen of the papal court. (9) In fact, here Romano was responding to contemporary fashion. Dwarfs were a common fixture in the Italian Renaissance courts, their presence in the prince's imagery used to signal his noble status and ruling authority. (10) But while the dwarf's inclusion in the Vision scene thus served to announce Leo's elevated princely stature, in his comical presentation he was doubtless meant to appeal to the pope's sense of humor. As was well known, Leo delighted in practical jokes and buffoonery, and had a special weakness for fools and jesters. (11) More puzzling, however, is why Romano showed the dwarf upstaging at a critical point in the narrative.
This essay seeks to answer that very question. Focusing on the Vision fresco and in particular on the dwarf's presence, the investigation analyzes aspects of the iconography specifically as they relate to Leo's role as Christus medicus and his propaganda centered on the cult of healing. Appropriately, the discussion begins by addressing the various ways in which Leonine rule played on the healing topos, which was expressed in words, deeds, and imagery. This background is then used to elucidate meaning for the dwarf's appearance in the fresco. As will be argued, the dwarf not only functioned as a perfect vehicle for conveying Leo's propagandistic initiatives, but he also served a prophylactic purpose, his painted image intended to insure the pope's own continued well-being.
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The Healing Pope
As a Medici, Pope Leo was well-equipped to embark on a campaign devoted to the theme of healing. In line with the pun on their family name, in the fifteenth century the Medici had adopted as their personal protectors the physician saints Cosmas and Damian, both of whom were credited with miraculous healings. (12) In Florence, the santi medici had appeared regularly in altarpieces commissioned by the family until the Medici were expelled from the city in 1494. Upon Leo's election to the papacy in 1513, he instituted their feast day as a Florentine holiday and transplanted the celebration to the Vatican. (13) There, after a solemn Mass, the festivities were conducted with great fanfare. At one memorable party held in September 1520, the entertainments included fifty musicians and singers dressed as physicians, and two buffoons outfitted as the pope's personal doctors, who cracked jokes to amuse the crowd. (14) Following these antics, guests were treated to several songs about physicians and a performance of Machiavelli's comedy La Mandragola about a love-sick man disguised as a doctor. The day's events were recorded in the diary of Marcantonio Michiel, who notably remarked that in his annual observance of the saints' day, Leo was emulating the "custom of his ancestors, since SS. Cosmas and Damian were physicians, and they [i.e., the Medici] were descended from doctors." (15)
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More serious undertakings were Leo's projects advancing the cause of medicine. A year into his reign, the pope sponsored the first professorship in Rome devoted to studying the curative power of simples (medicinal herbs). (16) In 1515, Leo issued a bill supporting the founding of a new hospital in Rome for treating syphilis, one of the so-called religious Incurability set up to heal patients--while purifying their souls. (17) The pope's granting of indulgences for generous donors and tax relief for similar institutions ultimately stimulated their proliferation throughout the Italian peninsula. (18) In 1517, Leo inaugurated the Protomedicato in Bologna, a special board established to regulate the medical profession. (19) Of course, plagued with piles and gout, his own poor health must have motivated his personal interest in medical issues, but such public undertakings would only have contributed positively to Leo's carefully cultivated persona as the healing pope. (20) Of special use in this matter was his display of the dynastic palle device, the golden balls symbolizing the mala medica ("healing fruit"), reminiscent as well of apothecary pills sold at the time. (21)
Leo's artistic commissions capitalized further on the healing metaphor. In 1515, he tasked Raphael with designing a set of tapestries for the lower walls of the Sistine Chapel. In Peter Healing the Lame Beggar, located in the border of the tapestry directly below the main scene, Raphael included Leo's personal lion motif flanked by a vignette depicting an important event from Leo's life as cardinal (fig. 5). (22) The juxtaposition of Leonine imagery with Peter as healer was intended to uphold the conceit of the Medici pontiff as a contemporary Christus medicus. A similar message was conveyed in a fresco in the convent of Santa Maria Novella in Florence (fig. 6), painted in preparation for Leo's honorific return to his native city in 1515. In the Cappella del Papa, Pontormo portrayed St. Veronica with the Sudarium, the image of the veil with an imprint of Christ's face, accompanied by the inscription (not visible in the illustration) "HEC EST SALV[S] V[E]STRA" (This is your salvation). While these words were an obvious symbolic reference to Christ, they were dually referential to the Medici pope, "savior of Florence and healer of all ills." (23)
The painted presence of the sudarium in Florence carried further significance for Leo. Thought to have miraculous healing and prophylactic properties, it would have held special meaning for the Medici pope since the veil itself was housed in St. Peter's and was thus under his stewardship. Likewise, the twisted Solomonic columns depicted in the Healing tapestry were meant to evoke the colonna santa (Holy Column) also in St. Peter's, another relic that was duly credited with healing miracles. (24) The representation of these motifs in Leonine imagery bears witness to the pope's faith in the power of curative amulets and talismans. Leo most assuredly subscribed to the ideas of his former tutor, Marsilio Ficino, who had predicted his elevation to pope. In his De Vita libri tres (Three Books on Life) from 1489, Ficino advocated the therapeutic use of magical herbs, as well as gems and talismans engraved with astrological imagery, which he claimed was "invented for health of mortals." (25) At the Vatican, Leo implemented Ficino's ideas in the Sala dei Pontefici, the public entrance hall to the papal apartments located directly below the Sala di Costantino. Painted with astrological motifs, the room functioned as a protective talisman meant to "ward off evil stellar influences and ensure his spiritual and bodily health." (26) Leo also encouraged the use of Christian amulets for metaphysical healing purposes. Under his auspices in 1517 special indulgence tickets were issued, emblazoned with a cross and an inscription promising freedom from "falling-sickness [i.e., epilepsy], apoplexy and sudden death" for those kissing the instrument of Christ's torture. (27)
While Leo's sponsored activities helped to perpetuate his reputation as Christus medicus, a host of papal officials and humanists including Giles of Viterbo and Erasmus readily invoked the healing metaphor in their praise of the Medici pope. (28) Others followed suit in their translations of ancient medical texts. Marcello Virgilio dedicated his translation of Dioscorides' Materia medica to Leo, extolling the pope's concerns with the health of the body, mind, and soul. (29) Likewise, in his translation of Galen's dissertation on the four temperaments (De temperamentis), Thomas Linacre, physician to Henry VIII of England, included a dedicatory epistle to Leo, his life-long friend. (30) Nor did the healing analogy lose luster after the pope's death. The physician Paolo Giovio, a member of Leo's court who later wrote his biography, reminisced that Leo's "virtus brought back to use the golden age of the healing of the human race." (31) No doubt the Medici camp had a moderating influence in shaping such rhetorical conceits, Leo having inherited, as John Shearman notes, "the family flair for inventing a mythology of their rule." (32)
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However powerful, Leonine healing analogies were not confined to Christian exemplars; indeed Christ's pagan predecessors provided equally effective and poetic parallels with the Medici pope. (33) Comparisons with Apollo, ancient god of healing, were especially apt and were given added weight by Ficino's having referred to Apollo as doctor and means for healing the soul. (34) Apollo's son Asclepius, physician-healer in his own right and father to two physician sons, was also called into service. (35) Surely the pontiff would have been well familiar with the Asclepian cult. Housed in the Medici library in Florence was Ficino's translation of the Corpus herrneticum containing sections devoted to Asclepius, while a gem inscribed with the god's image was in the collection of Leo's father, Lorenzo il Magnifico. (36) It may even have been this same talisman that inspired the image of Asclepius depicted in fictive relief in one of the Raphael tapestries. (37) Given Leo's almost certain reverence for the ancient healer, he must have been well pleased when early in his reign the marble remains of Asclepius' ship were discovered on the Tiber Island, the site of the god's healing temple. (38) Leo's papal notary Pierio Valeriano promptly composed an ode pronouncing it an omen on Leo's powers as a medicus to heal the problems of the world. (39)
The Healing Topos in the Sala di Costantino
Thus by the time Raphael and Giulio Romano began painting the frescoes in the Sala di Costantino, they were able to draw on a rich body of rhetorical and metaphorical conceits with which to give visual expression to the theme of Leonine healing. In the first place, the very subject matter of the Vision fresco--the miraculous event that led Constantine to embrace Christianity--speaks to the notion of spiritual healing. The New Testament did, after all, present the Christian faith as a religion of healing with Christ as its physician. (40) The allusion to Christian healing helps to account for the inclusion of Constantine's baptism in the room's pictorial scheme since his body and spirit were said to be healed upon his receiving the baptismal rites. (41) Likewise, the healing sub-text may help to explain the choice of the popes Peter and Clement who flank the main Vision scene (see again fig. 2). We recall that Peter healed the lame man (Acts 3:1-8), but acts of healing were similarly ascribed to Clement I. (42) As with Peter, Clement's association with healing made him an appropriate counterpart to Pope Leo, whose own features have been grafted onto Clement's body (fig. 7). (43) In a further nod to Leo as healer, his connection to Apollo may be suggested by the Apollo-like crown worn by Constantine--of note since Apollo was the patron of Constantine and Leo is here equated with the Christian emperor---and by the sun rays adorning the soldiers' standards and the baldachin over Cleinent/Leo's head. (44) Astrological symbols, including Leo's own natal sign of the lion shown in the band directly below serve to remind that astrology was considered to be the "sister discipline of medicine." (45) Moreover, the golden palle appearing on the roof of the tent by Constantine evoke the mala medica the Medici claimed as their own.
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The dwarf has been assigned a more prominent role in the fresco (fig. 8). Cast as an Albertian "commentator," his attention-grabbing antics invite the viewer to look for more meaning in the scene. (46) On one hand, with his helmet, shield, and sword with its cock's-head hilt, he bears a resemblance to Mars, the ancient god of war. (47) While Mars had implications for Leo's propagandistic and astrological symbolism, the god also had a connection to healing. (48) In a broader sense, the dwarf's comedic performance attests to the use of laughter as an aid in healing. (49) The therapeutic merits of laughter had been espoused by Hippocrates and Galen, the latter of whom served as the principal authority on medicine in the Cinquecento. (50) It may even have been Galen's mention of comic mimes used as an Asclepian cure that informed the dwarf's waggish behavior in the fresco. (51) Following Galen, Ficino had allowed that laughter could be helpful for lifting the spirits, a sentiment echoed by Castiglione in his Book of the Courtier. (52) Positing the adverse effects upon health caused by too much laughter, however, both Galen and Ficino held that moderation was key, which seems to give added meaning to the figure of Moderatio who appears by the dwarf's side (see again fig. 7).
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Dwarfs and Healing
Considering that jesters and buffoons were a staple of Leo's Vatican, we might note that the laughter-inducing function of the dwarf in the Vision could easily have been assumed by a figure of standard stature. Why, then, was a dwarf chosen for this iconographical role? In fact, dwarfs themselves had a long-established association with healing and medicine. For the ancient Egyptians, the dwarf Bes served as healer and protector of childbirth (fig. 9), while a variant of the god Ptah was rendered as a dwarf in amulets known as Ptah-Pataikoi. (53) In Hellenistic times, Serapis, the Alexandrian god of healing, was assisted by Harpocrates, who was sometimes shown as a dwarf. (54) The latter duo was recast in Greco-Roman tradition as Asclepius (Asklepius) and his son or servant Telesphoros ("who brings a good end"), represented as a smaller hooded figure who often took the form of a dwarf. (55) Telesphoros appears alongside Asclepius in sculptures, reliefs, cameos, and coins, and is shown individually in charms and statuettes as well as on the reverse of a number of Roman coins bearing the image of an emperor. (56) Interestingly, Telesphoros is also depicted on coins whose obverse portrays a profile of Hercules (fig. 10), of note since Hercules was originally credited with healing powers and was likewise connected to Asclepius. (57) The artist of a fifteenth-century English manuscript page evidently conflated these three entities, showing a dwarfish Asclepius trailing behind a much larger figure of Hercules (fig. 11).
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Claiming Asclepius as their spiritual and physical ancestor, ancient doctors may have viewed the dwarf as an appropriate attribute befitting their role as healers. (58) A fifth-century BC Greek aryballos now in Paris depicts a dwarf in a scene of a doctor performing a surgery, while frescoes of pygmies (the dwarf entity) adorn the peristyle of the first century "House of the Physician" in Pompeii. (59) In the Sala di Costantino, the dwarfs placement by Clement/Leo the healing pope would have served as a fitting juxtaposition--Asclepius and Telesphoros, the doctor with his dwarf attendant. Just as the symbolic and punning associations of the physician saints Cosmas and Damian were used to great advantage in Leo's Christus medicus propaganda, so too would a dwarf assistant have offered an appropriate play on the associations engendered by the Medici name. (60)
The dwarfs position by Clement/ Leo is of further importance. Taking a closer look at the dwarf (fig. 8), we note that one testicle, or testicolo, is exposed, which must surely be a pun on the Medici balls (palle). Already in the era of Leo's father the palle-testicoli pun had surfaced in writing, but Paolo Giovio invoked it for political purposes in a letter of 1530. (61) On the eve of the date the Medici resumed control of Florence after a three-year interregnum, Giovio opined, "The Medici 'had the balls (pallef to make the Florentines' testicles (testicoli) hurt, if the citizens could not accept a sweeter yoke (suave jugo)." (62) In this context, Giovio's specific mention of the "sweeter yoke" is significant since it also alludes to Leo's yoke and SUAVE impresa. Both motifs appear in the Vision: small yokes adorn the tapestry-like band that runs across the top of the fresco, and larger yokes with the SUAVE motto are held upright by the female figures framing the scene at either end (see fig. 2). Derived from Matthew 11:30 ("My yoke is easy and my burden is light"), the Christological symbolism of the yoke was meant to link Leo to Christ as peacemaker, while the motto "SUAVE" (sweet, gentle) alluded to Leo's gentle rule. (63) In conjunction with the healing subtext of the Vision iconography then, the display of the dwarf's testicolo with Leo's personal device would have served as a clever and appropriate reference to his curative role in Florentine politics. Such a message would not have been lost on the sizeable Florentine community residing in Rome and affiliated with the papal court, particularly an audience that was predisposed to appreciating double entendres. (64)
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Cloaked as an ingenious political pun, the scurrilous display of genitalia was sure to elicit laughter, but it also served another purpose. Apart from its general healing benefit, laughter was believed to dispel melancholy, which was thought to render the body and soul more susceptible to contamination by evil spirits. (65) To protect the individual (and property), apotropaic and talismanic imagery was traditionally called into service. Especially efficacious were representations of dwarfs, whose physical deformity was believed to offer natural protection against the Evil Eye and other malignancies. (66) The Egyptians used images of Bes and Ptah, while among the Greeks sculptures of deformed beings called geloia ("laughable things") were employed "for the aversion of ill will." (67) The Romans followed suit with a variety of objects, some bearing the image of Telesphoros, and others taking the form of bronze statuettes of dwarfs with, or mounted on, enlarged phalluses (fig. 12). (68) In the case of the latter (and as seen on the statuette of Bes shown in figure 9), the addition of a prominent phallus (or two!) was believed to greatly magnify the prophylactic properties. (69) This lingering superstitious belief helps to explain the dwarf's function and appearance in the Vision iconography. In Sala di Costantino, where Leo would have been visited by friend and foe alike, the dwarf with his exposed genitals similarly functions as a protective talisman, providing the pope with salubrious benefits and safeguarding him from those seeking to do him harm. (70) Having survived an apparent attempt on his life in 1518 in which Leo's own doctor was allegedly bribed into using poisonous medicinal herbs to treat his piles, the superstitious pontiff had ample reason to be concerned for his personal safety. (71) More to the point, there were storm clouds brewing in the Northern climes that were directly threatening his papacy.
On the eve of Luther's Reformation, Gianfrancesco Pico della Mirandola issued a prophetic warning addressed to Pope Leo about the problems facing the Church. "These diseases and these wounds must be healed by you, Holy Father," he began, continuing that "if you fail to heal these wounds, I fear that God Himself, whose place on earth you take, will not apply a gentle cure, but with fire and sword will cut off those diseased members and destroy them; and I believe that He has already clearly given signs of his future remedy." (72) Three years later, Martin Luther rendered a more personal, if not piquant, assessment of Leo's failings at healing a broken Church: "It had been your duty and that of your cardinals to apply a remedy to these evils, but the gout laughs at the physician's hand." (73) We, of course, know the eventual outcome, but the fun-loving pontiff seems to have taken a more sanguine approach in dealing with the crisis. (74) Perhaps he was lulled into complacency: he was, after all, a healer, not a divider. Armed with a panacean dwarf, he may have felt he had just the remedy for curing any personal, spiritual, and political ills that came his way.
This essay is based on a paper originally presented at the Renaissance Society of America conference in New York City (March 2014). I am especially grateful to the anonymous reviewer for his/her careful editing and invaluable suggestions. Thanks, too, to Rachel Stephens for her works as editor.
(1.) On the origins of the Christ-as-healer topos particularly as it relates to prevailing religious practices, see Lee Jefferson, Christ the Miracle Worker in Early Christian Art (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2014). The concept of Christ as a medicus entered into patristic discourse in the fourth century to replace the popular cult of Asclepius; a century later, Pope Leo I used this trope in his writings, referring to Christ as a physician healing a sick and wounded humanity. Leo Ps association with the topos served as a convenient link for the Medici pope who clearly chose to align himself with this notable papal predecessor. Not only did he adopt the same name, but he also had his own features grafted onto those of Leo I in the fresco of The Meeting of Attila and Leo the Great at the River Mincio, painted by Raphael in 1514 for the Vatican's Stanza d'Eliodoro. On Leo I, see G. M. Lukken, Original Sin in the Roman Liturgy: Research into the Theology of Original Sin in the Roman Sacramentaria and the Early Baptismal Liturgy (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1973), 302. While the Christus medicus metaphor was used extensively for Leo X, it was also applied to Pope Julius II (r. 1503-13), and subsequently used for Leo's cousin, Pope Clement VII (r. 1523-34). Later in the sixteenth century, Pope Pius IV (r. 1559-65), another Medici (but unrelated to the Florentine dynasty), continued an identification with the theme of healing afforded by his advantageous surname; see discussion in David Coffin, Pirro Ligorio: The Renaissance Artist, Architect, and Antiquarian (University Park: Penn State University Press, 2004), 41.
(2.) One of the problems confronting Leo's papacy was the schismatic Council of Pisa, a holdover from the reign of Julius II. John Shearman provides a thorough examination of the healing topers used for the Medici pope in his Raphael's Cartoons in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen and the Tapestries for the Sistine Chapel (London: Phaidon Press, 1972).
(3.) According to Loren Partridge, the program was meant to assert the spiritual and temporal authority of the papacy under Leonine rule while also revitalizing the notion of a crusade against the Turkish threat; see his discussion in The Art of Renaissance Rome, 1400-1600 (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1996), 152-59. The most extensive examination of the room's iconography is by Rolf Quednau, Die Sala di Costantino im Vatikanischen Palast: zur Dekoration der beiden Medici-Papste Leo X und Clemens VII (Hildesheim: Olms, 1979). Also see Stephen Campbell and Michael Cole, Italian Renaissance Art (New York: Thames & Hudson, 2012), 411-14.
(4.) In this respect, it bears mentioning Rudolf Preimesberger's observation that Medicean patronage of Raphael's painting "can hold its own as a Medici impresa"; see his Paragons and Paragone: Van Eyck, Raphael, Michelangelo, Caravaggio, and Bernini (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2011), 6.
(5.) The healing of Constantine was based on a legend recounted by Pope Sylvester I in which the emperor had leprosy and was advised to take a bath in the boiled blood of young children. St. Peter then appeared to Constantine in a dream and told him he would be healed if he converted to Christianity. This account is related in Jan de Jong, The Power and the Glorification: Papal Pretensions and the Art of Propaganda in the Fifteenth and Sixteenth Centuries (University Park: Penn State University Press, 2013), 85. Constantine's healing was said to have occurred upon his baptism by Pope Sylvester, although see note 41 below.
(6.) Latin "in hoc [signo] vinces". Here we should note that the placement of this particular scene on the east wall may have had special significance since it would symbolize the three angels having come from Jerusalem.
(7.) Among the scholars who have acknowledged the dwarf's presence in the fresco are Frederick Hartt, Giulio Romano, 2 vols. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1958), 1: 47; Philip Fehl, "Raphael as a Historian: Poetry and Historical Accuracy in the Sala di Costantino," Artibus et Historiae 14, no. 28 (1993): 39, 48; Frederick De Armas, Cervantes, Raphael and the Classics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 70-71; and Robin O'Bryan, "Grotesque Bodies, Princely Delight: Dwarfs in Italian Renaissance Court Imagery," Preternature: Critical and Historical Studies on the Preternatural I, no. 2 (2012): 252-4, 261.
(8.) For example, Hartt, Guiulio Romano, 1:47, proposed that the dwarfs action of lifting the helmet over his head was meant to be a pun on his alleged surname; see the following note.
(9.) Although a few nineteenth-century commentators refer to the dwarf as belonging to Pope Julius II, the dwarf has more frequently been identified as Gradasso Berrettini (or Berrettai) da Norcia, which was the name of a real dwarf who served Ippolito de' Medici after he was made cardinal in 1529. Because Ippolito was raised at Leo's court when his father died in 1516, it has been assumed that the dwarf was procured during that earlier period. However, as I discovered after perpetuating the error in my "Grotesque Bodies" essay, there is no documentary evidence to support this assumption (nor to indicate that the dwarf belonged to Julius II). It appears, instead, that the dwarf in the fresco was assigned the Gradasso identity based upon a capitolo (satirical poem) about Ippolito's dwarf Gradasso written by Francesco Berni in 1532. During the nineteenth century, scholars began to conflate the real individual with the painted dwarf, overlooking the fact that the dwarf in the fresco looks to be much older than twenty, which would have been his purported age based upon what Berni had allowed was his 1502 birthdate. On Berni's capitolo and for a discussion of the real Gradasso, see Giuseppe Crimi and Cristiano Spila, eds., Nanerie del Rinascimento: "La Nanea" di Michelangelo Serafini e altri versi di corte e d'accademia (Roma: Vecchiarelli Editore, 2006), 52-57.
(10.) See e.g., Robin O'Bryan "Virtue, Vice and Princely Pleasure: The Dwarfs in a Sforza Grammatical' Libri & Documenti XXXIV-XXXV (2008-2009): 7-23; and "Grotesque Bodies," op. cit.
(11.) As Will Durant once observed, "To bring him a person whose wit, deformity, or imbecility could refresh his mirth was an open sesame to his heart"; The Renaissance (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1953), 453. Leo's proclivities were duly recognized by the contemporary historians Paolo Giovio and Francesco Guicciardini, and by Lodovico Domenichi, who allowed that Leo's chamberlain had the authority to introduce into the papal apartments at any time "crazies, buffoons and similar pleasurable types" (pazzi, buffoni e simil sorte di piacevoli). Domenichi's remarks are contained in his Facetie, motti, et burle, di diversi signori et persone private. Raccolte per M. Lodovico Domenichi & da lui nuovo del settimo libro ampliate. Con una nuova aggiunta di Motti; raccolti da M. Tomaso Porcaccbi, & con un discorso intomo ad essi, con ogni diligentia ricorette et ristampate (Venice: Giacomo Cornetti, 1588), 203. The historian Francesco Vettori, who served as the Florentine ambassador to Leo's court (1513-15), was a bit more charitable in his assessment, commenting that "Even if Leo X did amuse himself with jesters, he yet had so many good qualities that men might well be satisfied with such a prince"; Vettori, Sommario della storia d'Italia dal 1511 al 1527, 339-40; cited in Ludwig Pastor, The History of the Popes: From the Close of the Middle Ages, 40 vols. (London: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., 1908), 8: 460.
(12.) Early Christian doctors such as Cosmas and Damian differed from other physicians of the period in crediting God with healing, which is why they were presented as doctors of body and soul. See the discussion in Jerry Pattengale, Benevolent Physicians in Late Antiquity: the Cult of the Anargyroi (Ph.D. diss., University of Miami, 1993). Jillian Harrald provides an extensive examination of the cult of the two saints, with special attention paid to Medici patronage of Cosmas and Damian imagery in the Quattrocento in The Early Iconography of SS. Cosmas and Damian in Italy (Ph.D. diss., University of Warwick, 2007). One of the best known Italian Renaissance images of Cosmas and Damian is Fra Angelico's Healing of the Deacon Justinian (ca. 144-042), which formed part of the predella of the altarpiece commissioned by Leo's great-grandfather, Cosimo Pater Patriae, for the convent of San Marco in Florence. Fra Angelico's painting shows the two saints transplanting a black leg from a deceased Ethiopian or Moor onto the white Justinian, an episode recounted in Jacobus de Voragine's thirteenth-century Legenda aurea (Golden Legend). In the sixteenth century, statues of Cosmas and Damian were made to accompany Michelangelo's statue of the Madonna and Child in the New Sacristy of San Lorenzo in Florence.
(13.) In the early fifteenth century, there were attempts to make the saints' feast day an official holiday in Republican Florence, but it was only after the Medici were restored to power in 1512 and Leo assumed the papacy a year later that he was able to effect this. In the meantime and while still a cardinal during the Medici exile (1494-1512), Leo celebrated the event in Rome, using the occasion "for supporters and antagonists to measure Medici strength"; see Richard Trexler, Public Life in Renaissance Florence (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1980), 423 n. 16. Images of Cosmas and Damian appeared in the ephemeral festive decorations made for Leo's official entry into Florence in 1515, which should be seen as constituting a personal, as well as a political, statement.
(14.) See Bonnie Blackburn. "Music and Festivities at the Court of Leo X: A Venetian View," Early Music History 11 (1992): 1-37. Given the theme of the festivities and the special songs about doctors that were composed specifically for the event, Blackburn proposes that the guest list would have also included the upper echelons of the medical community in Rome (31). The lampooning of physicians by buffoons dressed to resemble them was not an unusual act. At the Este court in Ferrara, records indicate that in 1512 and 1516, the buffoon Santino--a dwarf no less--was provided with a doctor's costume and hat for his antics; see Giulio Bertoni, "Buffoni alia corte di Ferrara," Rivista d'ltalia, anno VI, fasc. iii-iv (March-April, 1903): 504.
(15.) Michiel, a Venetian patrician, kept a detailed diary during his stay in Rome (1518-20). The original passage reads "Secondo la usanza delli suoi maggiori, per esser stati San Cosmo et Damiano Medici, et essi esser discesi da Medici," which Blackburn ("Music and Festivities," 26, 34) translated erroneously as the Medici themselves being descended from the two saints. I thank Cristina Bellorini and the anonymous reviewer for clarifying the meaning of this passage.
(16.) See Valeria Finucci, The Manly Masquerade: Masculinity, Paternity, and Castration in the Italian Renaissance (Durham: Duke University Press, 2003), 93. Leo's apparent interest in simples may have been inspired by the family-owned apothecary in Florence which supplied such medicinal herbs (among them opium, which was viewed as a simple); see James Shaw and Evelyn Welch, Making and Marketing Medicine in Renaissance Florence (Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2011), 64.
(17.) The bull was the Salvatoris Nostri Domini Jesu Christi; the hospital was San Giacomo di Augusta. Leo was an enthusiastic supporter of the Companies of Divine Love, confraternities that founded the "Spedali degli Incurabili" established to treat the "French disease." See Jon Arrizabalaga, John Henderson, and Robert French, The Great Pox: The French Disease in Renaissance Europe (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1997), 155; John Henderson, The Renaissance Hospital: Healing the Body and Healing the Soul (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006), 98; David Gentilcore, Healers and Healing in Early Modern Italy (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998), 126; and Sarah Toulalan and Kate Fisher, eds., The Routledge History of Sex and the Body, 1500 to the Present (New York: Routledge, 2013), 471. Of course, as Arrizabalaga, et. al., note, Leo's actions were not completely altruistic; rather "it was the fear that the capital of Christianity would become overrun by the incurably sick that led [him] to strengthen the powers of the hospital's officials in their dealings with the poor sick" (157). In Florence, Leo took special interest in the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova, appointing his personal physician to study its regulations and, in a blatant display of Florentine bias, advocating it as a model for the doctors of the world-famous hospital of Santo Spirito in Rome; see Henderson, Renaissance Hospital, xxvi; and Donatella Tombaccini, et. al., eds., Florence and its hospitals: a history of health care and assistance in the Florentine area (Florence: Florence University Press, 2008), 50.
(18.) See Arrizabalaga, et. al., The Great Pox, 161-62.
(19.) Paula Findlen discusses the Protomedicato in Possessing Nature: Museums, Collecting, and Scientific Culture in Early Modem Italy (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), 264.
(20.) According to papal biographer Paolo Giovio (Jovius), during the conclave to elect the new pope in 1513, Leo suffered a burst anal fistula, which filled the room with an intolerable stench; the cardinals who voted for him assumed he was in poor health and would thus have a short papacy. Jovius, Vita Leonis X, lib. III, 56; cited in William Roscoe, The Life and Pontificate of Leo the Tenth, 2 vols., rev. Thomas Roscoe, 4th ed. (London: Henry G. Bond, 1846), 1: 351. Leo had in attendance at the papal court five physicians acclaimed for their great skill and/or scholarly writings on medicine; see James J. Walsh, The Popes and Science: The History of the Papal Relations to Science During the Middle Ages and Down to Our Own Time (New York: Fordham University Press, 1915), 442-43.
(21.) Among the various symbolic associations attached to the Medici palle was their relationship to the sour Tuscan orange known as the mala medica, which in turn was identified in ancient and Renaissance literature with the golden apples from the Garden of Hesperides (which feature in Hercules' Eleventh Labor). Beginning with Leo's reign as pope, Medicean literature equated the golden apples with the Medici palle, which has additional significance since Leo was also compared to Hercules; see below notes 33 and 57. Susan Regan McKillop provides a good discussion on the Medici palle in Tranciabigio (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1974), 74. Pills produced in Florentine apothecaries were coated in gold foil for wealthy patrons who were evidently willing to pay twice the going rate for the metallic version of their remedy; see Shaw and Welch, Making and Marketing Medicine, 248, 258.
(22.) The scene shows him after his escape from his captors, having been taken prisoner in the Battle of Ravenna (1512). The lion motif reappeared in the contemporaneous imagery produced for the pope's 1515 entrata into Florence. On one triumphal arch the painted decoration portrayed Leo as a "lion licking the wounds of the city's civil strife"; see Trexler, Public Life, 499, with a fuller discussion by John Shearman, "The Florentine Entrata of Leo X, 1515," Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes XXXVIII (1975): 141-2. Shearman, ibid., 141 n. 12, relates the iconography of the entrata to the fictive reliefs and borders of the tapestries.
(23.) See Janet Cox-Rearick, Dynasty and Destiny in Medici Art: Pontormo, Leo X, and the Two Cosimos (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), 39. The "savior" conceit plays on the cognate relationship between salute (health) and salvamento (salvation).
(24.) Such as noted by Leo's contemporaries including Luca Pacioli (Divina proportione of 1509), Bernardo Portinari (c. 1515 in his Disputationes II de daemonibus dedicated to Leo), and Fra Mariano da Firenze (1517, ltinerarium urbis romae); see Shearman, Raphael's Cartoons, 56 nn. 69, 71; 57. According to Dale Kinney, already in 1382 the colonna santa was healing those possessed by demons; see Kinney, "Spolia," in William Tronzo, ed., St. Peter's in the Vatican (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 35.
(25.) Ficino dedicated his treatise to Lorenzo il Magnifico. Alexander Nagel characterizes the De vita as "a sustained account and defense of astrological magic and medicine," in The Controversy of Renaissance Art (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011), 122. Notably, Ficino's own father, Diotifeci d'Agnolo da Figline, was the physician to Cosimo Pater Patriae and was also affiliated with the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova in Florence; see Henderson, Renaissance Hospital, 245.
(26.) Gentilcore, Healers and Healing, viii. The prophylactic function of the Sala imagery was advanced by Claudia Rousseau in Cosimo I de' Medici and Astrology: The Symbolism of Prophecy (Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1983), 153.
(27.) Specifically, "This cross measured forty times makes the height of Christ in his humanity. He who kisses it is preserved for seven days from falling-sickness, apoplexy, and sudden death"; A.D. White, History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, 2 vols. (1896; rpt. New York: Cosimo, Inc., 2009), 2: 30. Although such measures were a way of generating funds for the rapidly depleting papal treasury, the issuance of this amuletic indulgence ticket for protection against "falling-sickness" (i.e., epilepsy) is of special significance for Leo's healing propaganda. Amulets were commonly used as a cure for epilepsy since the disorder was believed to be the result of demonic possession; for this reason ancient doctors referred to epilepsy as the "sacred disease." (Epilepsy was also known as the "Herculean disease" (Latin, "morbus herculeus"), a nod to the legend that Hercules suffered from the affliction, possibly caused by the stress of his Twelve Labors.) In Antiquity, the god Asclepius was credited with curing epilepsy, a curative act later ascribed to Christ who healed a boy with epilepsy by performing an exorcism (referenced in Mark 9:14-29, and elsewhere). Given Leo's promotion of an amulet to guard against this demon-induced sickness and his propagandists use of the healing metaphor to align himself with both Christ and Asclepius (see discussion below), it is noteworthy that shortly after assuming the papacy he initiated the compilation of an authorized Catholic rite of exorcism. Moreover, during this same period his cousin Cardinal Giulio de' Medici commissioned Raphael to paint an altarpiece depicting the Transfiguration of Christ and Healing of the Boy Possessed by Demons (completed 1518-20). On epilepsy and demonic possession, see Sandra Haynes and Thomas Bennett, "Historical Perspective and Overview," in The Neuropsychology of Epilepsy, ed. Thomas Bennett (New York: Springer, 1992), 9-10; and for a broader treatment, including information on Hercules, see Owsei Temkin's classic study, The Falling Sickness: A History of Epilepsy from the Greeks to the Beginnings of Modern Neurology (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994). Leo's efforts to systemize the Church's official treatment of exorcism is referenced in Moshe Sluhovsky, "Spirit Possession and Other Alterations of Consciousness in the Christian Western Tradition," in Etzel Cardena and Michael Winkelman, eds., Altering Consciousness: Multidisciplinary Perspectives (Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2011), 83. Also see note 57 below on Hercules in Leonine propaganda.
(28.) Leo's advisor Giles of Viterbo put Leo's papacy at the beginning of the tenth age, when the Church was to receive its renewal and healing; see John O'Malley, Giles of Viterbo on Church and Reform: A Study in Renaissance Thought (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1968), 110. In 1513, Zaccaria Ferrari wrote a visionary poem about Leo's elevation to the papacy, pronouncing that with "his healing hand he cures all ills"; Shearman, Raphael's Cartoons, 1. A contemporaneous motet by Heinrich Isaac, a musician at the papal court, cast Leo as the medicus there to heal the wounds of his flock (Shearman, ibid., 15). Others employing the medicus trope included Paolo Giustiniani, Pietro Quirini, Vincenzo Quirini, Pietro Delfin, Naldo Naldi, Giovanni Battista Gargha, Tommaso Giustiniani, Poggio, Egidio Pontano, Pietro Bembo, and Janus Vitalis Castalius; see discussion in Shearman, ibid., 78 andn. 187.
(29.) Peter Godman, From Poliziano to Machiavelli: Florentine Humanism in the High Renaissance (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998), 233.
(30.) Elizabeth Nugent, ed., The Thought and Culture of the English Renaissance: An Anthology of Tudor Prose, 1488-1555 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1956), 16-18. Galen refined Hippocrates' theories on bodily humors.
(31.) Vita Leonis X, lib. I, 4; cited in Pastor, The History of the Popes, 8: 460. Giovio went on to serve as physician to Pope Clement VII, who commissioned him for Leo's biography.
(32.) See Shearman, Raphael's Cartoons, 17, who cites as an example the oration composed by Giovanni Battista Gargha in 1513 that was done with the help of Leo's cousin and confidant Cardinal Giulio de' Medici (later Pope Clement VII).
(33.) Despite the fact that in earlier times Hercules was also credited with healing powers, this aspect of his legendary prowess apparently did not figure in Leonine propaganda; see note 57 below.
(34.) On Leo's election, the Sicilian poet Jano Vitale declared that a new Jupiter had come down from Olympus, and like Apollo would heal all sickness; the Dominican Zanobi Acciaiuoli also compared Leo to Apollo. See Pastor, History of the Popes, 8: 214. Leo's affiliation with Apollo was used as well to promote his patronage of the arts. At his election in 1513, Pasquino, the satirical statue in Rome, assumed the persona of Apollo to announce the new pope's anticipated patronage, while an oration composed in 1517 celebrated Leo as Apollo Musagetes ("Leader of the Muses"). See, respectively, Julia Haig Gaisser, Pierio Valeriano on the 111 Fortune of Learned Men: A Renaissance Humanist and his World (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1999), 24; and Elisabeth B. MacDougall, Fountains, Statues, and Flowers: Studies in Italian Gardens of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1994), 51. On Ficino, see Valerie Shrimplin, Sun-symbolism and Cosmology in Michelangelo's "Last Judgment'' (Kirksville: Truman State University, 2000), 246 n. 98.
(35.) In the Iliad, Homer describes Asclepius as a skilled physician and father to two sons who were Greek doctors. Shortly after assuming the papacy, the Medici pope granted a plenary indulgence to pilgrims traveling to Trier, the site of a church alleged to contain a relic of Christ. Significantly (if not surprisingly), the site was founded on an ancient healing center dedicated to Asclepius. On Trier, see The Encyclopedia of Religious Phenomena (Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 2008), 340-41. Notably, too, Castiglione equated Raphael, Leo's preferred painter, with Asclepius in a poem written after the artist's passing, praising him for healing Rome and art. Clearly, Raphael's name (the name of the Archangel of healing) informed this conceit. On Castiglione's homage, see Susanna de Beer, K. A. E. Enenkel, and David Rijser, eds., The Neo-Latin Epigram: A Learned and Witty Genre (Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2009), 119.
(36.) Cosimo Pater Patriae acquired the hermetic text in the early 1460s and gave it to Ficino to translate. The cameo with Asclepius (probably accompanied by his daughter Hygeia, goddess of health) is described in an inventory as "Uno chammeo grande leghato in oro chon dua figure intagliate di mezzo rilievo, un maschio e una femina, chon un albero in mezo che hanno a pie 2 serpe ..."; see Darrell Davisson, "Magian Ars medica: Liturgical Devices and Eastern Influences in the Medici Palace Chapel," Studies in Iconography 22 (2001): 162. Later in the sixteenth century, Francesco de' Medici maintained a collection of such stones and other rare objects housed in his studiolo, a room that may have also contained the painting of Apollo Entrusting Asclepius to the Care of Chiron. See Larry J. Feinberg, "The Studiolo of Francesco I Reconsidered," in The Medici, Michelangelo, and the Art of the Late Renaissance, ed. Cristina Acidini Luchinat, exh. cat. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002), 61.
(37.) Shearman, Raphael's Cartoons, 59, has identified as Asclepius a figure that appears in a roundel on a pier flanking the main scene in the Conversion of the Proconsu tapestry, although he suggests that the image was based on a coin depicting Commodus.
(38.) Noted for its health-giving springs, the island had housed an ancient temple to Asclepius which ultimately gave rise to the establishment of a hospital (San Giovanni di Dio) later in the sixteenth century.
(39.) The ship would have invited associations with the early Christian symbol for salvation. Valeriano's ode was entitled "Ad Leonem X. De Navi Esculapii in insula Tyberina paulo ante exerta, quam ipse Card, dim, a Navicula, Pont. Max. efficeretur," in Hexametri 63r-64r; cited in Gaisser, Pierio Valeriano, 12. Valeriano also served as domestic prelate and secretary to Cardinal Giulio de' Medici and was entrusted with the education of Leo's nephew Ippolito.
(40.) As Gerhard Lohfink observes, the adoption of a "medical-theological vocabulary" was used to promote Christianity as a religion of healing, which not only cast Christ as a physician but also referred to the sacraments as medicaments; see Jesus and Community: The Social Dimension of Christian Faith, trans. John Galvin (Minne apolis: Fortress Press, 1984), 152. Also see the following note.
(41.) The symbolic implications of baptism in early Christianity played well to the Constantine narrative. As Amanda Porterfield observes, "baptism conducted initiates through a life-and-death confrontation with evil, with victory through participation in the agency of Christ; [it was thus seen as] a revelatory event and triumphal experience of spiritual healing"; Healing in the History of Christianity (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 84. According to one legend, Constantine was healed from his leprosy upon his baptism; see Raymond Van Dam, Remembering Constantine at the Milvian Bridge (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), 20, 23; and note 5 above. Painted in 1523-24, the Baptism appears on the west wall directly across from the Vision and shows Constantine being baptized by Pope Sylvester I, who has been given the features of Pope Clement VII, under whose auspices the fresco was executed. Despite this representation and the chronology of events as recounted in the stories surrounding Constantine's healing and conversion to Christianity, he was apparently only baptized upon his deathbed as was customary in the period. Moreover, he was not baptized by Pope Sylvester, but rather by Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia; see Michael Grant, Constantine the Great: The Man and His Times (New York: Scribner 1993), 212-13.
(42.) Peter's curative power is also mentioned in Acts 5:14-16 and 9:36-42. The "General Intercessions" of Clement (I Clement 59.4) contains a petition for healing the sick members of the people of God; on this see Lohfink, Jesus and Community, 152. The Golden Legend records that Clement restored the sight and healing of a man through prayer; Clement's relics (housed in his eponymous church in Rome) were duly ascribed with curative powers. See Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend: Readings on the Saints, trans. William Ryan, 2 vols. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993), 2: 330, 332; and Alberto Ferreiro, Simon Magus in Patristic, Medieval and Early Modem Traditions (Leiden: Brill, 2005), 277.
(43.) As referenced in note 1 above, this was not the first instance of Leo having his visage portrayed on an illustrious personage with whom he wished to be equated.
(44.) Partridge, Art of Renaissance Rome, 156, discusses the concept of Leo as a "new Constantine". Apollo remained the patron of Constantine even following his conversion to Christianity and appears with him on coins issued during his reign; see e.g., H. A. Drake, Constantine and the Bishops: The Politics of Intolerance (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000), 182-83.
(45.) On Leo's identification with the zodiacal sign of the same name see Claudia Rousseau, "The Yoke Impresa of Leo X," Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz 33, no. 1 (1989): 113-26. Similarly, the yokes displayed in the band at the top and held by the female figures framing the Vision scene also had astrological implications for Leo's rule; see note 63 below. Nancy Siraisi discusses the relationship of astrology to medicine in "Anatomizing the Past: Physicians and History in Renaissance Culture," Renaissance Quarterly 53, no. 1 (Spring 2000): 5. Nop as Gentilcore observes, was astrology considered to be on the fringe of medical practice; indeed, astrological knowledge was part of the initial training for the study of medicine, with physicians and astrologers often being "one and the same" (Healers and Healing, viii). See also note 25 above. As the pupil of Ficino, Leo acquired an interest in astrological principles at an early age and as pope established a chair of Astrology at the Sapienza, the university in Rome.
(46.) In Leon Battista Alberti's treatise (published in Latin as De Pictura in 1435, and in Italian as Della Pittura the following year), he advises artists to include a "commentator," that is, someone "who admonishes and points out to us what is happening ... or menaces with an angry face and flashing eyes ... or shows some danger or marvelous thing there; or invites us to laugh and weep with them"; On Painting 2.41, trans. Cecil Grayson (London: Penguin Books, 1972), 77-78. This is not the first time a dwarf appears as a commentator in princely imagery. In the Camera Picta in Mantua (which Leo and his associates had visited), the female dwarf in the portrait of Ludovico Gonzaga and family was used by Mantegna to make comedic and political puns; see O'Bryan, "Grotesque Bodies," 257-60.
(47.) One of Mars' attributes was a cock, but the cock was also associated with Apollo and, as the bird sacred to Asclepius, was the animal of salvation. On this latter point, see Edgar Wind, "'Hercules' and 'Orpheus': Two Mock-heroic Designs by Durer," Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 2 (1938-39): 212; and note 70 below. Elsewhere in the Vision the cock appears on the standard held by the youth in front of Constantine. Notably as well, apart from Constantine the dwarf is the only other figure in the scene wearing sandals, which may evoke the footwear sometimes shown in statues and images of Mars.
(48.) As the mythical founder of Rome, Mars had appeared with Constantine on his early coinage, and the emperor's troops were at first sometimes referred to as "people of Mars"; see Grant, Constantine, 131. During the Renaissance, Mars was the patron not only of Rome, but also of Leo's native Florence. In Canto XVI: 34-39 of his Paradiso, Dante had referred to the influence of Mars on the astrological sign of Leo, the sign with which, in his chosen name, the pope was affiliated. Consistent with the message of Leo's early papal propaganda then, the invocation of Mars in the fresco would have served to signal Tuscan preeminence and Medicean hegemony over Rome and Florence. Caesar cited the Gaulish Mars as a god of healing in his De Bello gallico, and in Mars' various incarnations throughout Romano-Celtic regions, he was portrayed (epigraphically and/or in art) as a peaceful, beneficent healer, associated variously with healing eye diseases, protection, or ensuring fertility. In Bath, England, the Romano-Celtic god Mars Loucetius ("Mars of Lightning") was commemorated in an altar at a healing temple, while there was a healing spring devoted to Mars in Trier. Significantly, the latter site was also the location of an important pilgrimage center under Leo; see note 35 above. On the various aspects of Mars as healer see Miranda Green, Symbol and Image in Celtic Religious Art (London and New York: Routledge, 1992), 114-116; and James MacKillop, Myths and Legends of the Celts (London: Penguin Books, 2005). David Leeming provides the passage from Caesar's De Bello gallico in From Olympus to Camelot: The World of European Mythology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 75. Caesar's work was certainly known to Leo's associates, if not to the pope himself. His uncle Bernardo Rucellai (1448-1514) used this text as the basis for his own book De Bello italico on the French invasion of Italy in 1494.
(49.) Renaissance viewers would have found amusement in the dwarf's bodily deformations--at odds with the heroic physiques of the soldiers around him--which were seen to be a source of laughter; see O'Bryan, "Grotesque Bodies," 257. According to Robert Garland, for the Greeks and Romans "the deformed were fulfilling their pre-ordained social role by generating laughter and providing diversion"; The Eye of the Beholder: Deformity and Disability in the Graeco-Roman World (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995), 86.
(50.) On Galen, see Siraisi, "Anatomizing the Past," 9.
(51.) "ur ancestral god Asklepios who ordered not a few to have odes written as well as to compose comical mimes and certain songs" for making men healthy; Galenus, De Sanitate tuenda 1. 8. 19-21; cited in Emma and Ludwig Edelstein, Asclepius: Collection and Interpretation of the Testimonies, 2 vols. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1945, 1998), 1: 209. Galen had a personal interest in Asclepius since he claimed that the god had saved his life; see Bronwen Wickkiser, "Asclepius," in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome, ed. Michael Gagarin, 7 vols. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 1: 277.
(52.) Marjorie O'Rourke Boyle discusses Ficino's approach to spiritual laughter in "Gracious Laughter: Marsilio Ficino's Anthropology," Renaissance Quarterly 52 (1999): 712-41. As Castiglione notably observed in his II Cortegiano, "Whatever moves to laughter restores the spirit, and gives pleasure and for the moment keeps us from remembering those vexing troubles of which our lives are full"; Book of the Courtier, 2.45, trans. George Bull (London: Penguin Books, Ltd., 1967), 155. Castiglione served at Leo's court from 1513-16 as an envoy for the Duke of Urbino, returning in 1519 as Mantuan ambassador; in the interim he was writing his text.
(53.) For Bes and Ptah, see Veronique Dasen's discussion in Dwarfs in Ancient Egypt and Greece (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), 55-98.
(54.) On Harpocrates as a dwarf, see ibid., 94; and in relation to Serapis, Carl Meier, Healing Dream and Ritual, 4* ed. (Einsiedeln, Switzerland: Daimon Verlag, 2009), 44. In Rome, the church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva was built over the ancient temple of Minerva and the sanctuary dedicated to Serapis and his consort Isis, of special note considering Minerva's similar association in ancient Roman lore with healing (as Minerva Medica) and the fact that the church later become the location for Leo X's tomb. On the site see Deborah Cibelli, "Ekphrastic Treatments of Salviati's Paintings and Impresein Frederick De Armas, ed., Ekphrasis in the Age of Cervantes (Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 2005), 37.
(55.) See Meier, Healing Dream, 44.
(56.) In the second and third centuries, Telesphoros was depicted on at least fifteen sets of imperial coins; see Warwick Wroth, Telespboros, rept. Journal of Hellenistic Studies (1882), 5. In addition to Asclepius, Telesphoros also appears with Athena, and with Asclepius' daughter Hygeia; see note 36 above.
(57.) Hercules was connected to Asclepius through the centaur healer Chiron, who had instructed Asclepius. According to Jefferson (Christ the Miracle Worker, 112) in late Antiquity and until the rise of Christianity, Hercules "was revered less as a god and more as a divine helper and occasionally as a defender against disease." A number of ancient authors, including Philostratus, Pausanias, and Ovid wrote about Hercules' healing powers, and shrines and temples were erected in his honor for people seeking cures. Such as found at Pompeii, Roman scalpels used for surgical procedures even had images of Hercules on their handles; see Lawrence Bliquez, The Tools of Asclepius: Surgical Instruments in Greek and Roman Times (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2015), 1920. Hercules was also seen to be a protector against evil, leading Clement of Alexandria to comment on the use of his name for apotropaic purposes; see Jefferson Christ the Miracle Worker, 112. By medieval times, Hercules was recast as the embodiment of Virtue and the personification of Christian Fortitude, and it these associations that were used to compare Hercules to Pope Leo X. Giles of Viterbo declared Hercules to be a type of Leo since he was the first Tuscan hero to bear the lion skin (insigne leonis). While this reference would account for the lion skins worn by some of Constantine's soldiers in the Vision, what remains unclear is whether Hercules' association with heating was implicit in any of these Herculean invocations. It would seem likely that Leo's humanists, if not the pope himself, would have been familiar with the ancient accounts of Hercules' curative powers, especially considering the medicinal associations accorded the Medici palle, which were similarly tied to the golden apples of Hercules' Eleventh Labor. However, it may be that knowledge of Hercules' healing past was not widely enough known to be effective in Leo's papal propaganda. Leo's relationship to Hercules and the god's appearance in Leonine imagery, including the tapestry borders and entrata decorations, is discussed by Shearman, Raphael's Tapestries, 89-90; Cox-Rearick, Dynasty and Destiny, 14753; and Thomas Campbell, Tapestry in the Renaissance: Art and Magnificence (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2002), 250-51.
(58.) For a concise discussion on the relationship of Asclepius to physicians, see Wickkiser, "Asclepius," 277.
(59.) The aryballos is in the Louvre (CA 2183), while the frescoes are now housed in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples. Dasen (Dwarfs, 229 and 289) suggests that among other things the dwarf on the aryballos may represent a doctor's assistant. Medical instruments found at the house in Pompeii indicate that the resident was a doctor; see e.g., Mary Beard, Pompeii: The Life of a Roman Town (London: Profile Books, 2010), 130.
(60.) In which case we might duly see the dwarf serving as a kind of Medici impresa, similar to Raphael's works painted for the Medici (see note 4 above). By the mid-sixteenth century, dwarfs became an important component of Duke Cosimo I de' Medici's princely propaganda; see O'Bryan, "Grotesque Bodies," 263-69. Notably, too, Cosimo continued paying homage to the topos of healing. He established a fonderia (foundry) in his own residence for producing medicines, which he then gave away to propagate his image as the beneficent prince-healer. For his garden at Castello, he commissioned a statue of Asclepius, which, appropriately, was placed in the middle of a bed of medicinal herbs. Cosimo's activities will be discussed in a forthcoming book by Cristina Bellorini on medicinal plants and the emergence of botany in sixteenth-century Tuscany.
(61.) In a letter written by the poet and cleric Matteo Franco to Lorenzo de' Medici in 1475, Matteo complained of Lorenzo's partiality to (Matteo's nemesis) Luigi Pulci, saying "Gigi [Pulci's nickname] e animella delle vostre palle" (is dearer to you than your balls); see Ingeborg Walter, Lorenzo il Magnifico e il suo tempo, trans. Roberto Zapperi (Rome: Donzelli, 2005), 62. Given the period penchant for obscene puns and especially the licentious atmosphere that was pervasive in Leo's Vatican, it is easy to imagine that this wordplay posed an irresistible opportunity for people to connect the two words when they viewed the dwarf's exposed testicle. We should note, too, that Giuiio Romano's artistic oeuvre betrays his propensity for lascivious puns and erotic imagery. For another pun on the dwarf's genitalia, see O'Bryan, "Grotesque Bodies," 261.
(62.) It should be remembered that Giovio had served at the papal court. His comments were contained in his letter to Marco Contarini dated 9 August 1530, the day before the official end of the Siege of Florence. The translation is by Trexler, Public Life, 509. The original text reads: "Li arrabiati [the Florentine insurgents] abasseranno il colo al suave jugo de le clementissimo Palle; aliter gustarano qual sia el dolore de' testiculi"; ibid., n. 94.
(63.) In his Dialogo dell'imprese written ca. 1550, Giovio specifically relates the Yoke/ SUAVE impresa to Leo's "clement and gentle" involvement in Florentine affairs when the Medici returned to power in 1512, the year before Leo assumed the papacy. On this impresa, which was invested not only with religious but also with astrological and political symbolism, see Rousseau, "The Yoke Impresa," 113-26.
(64.) The most extensive treatment of the Florentine propensity for such witty plays is by Paul Barolsky, Infinite Jest: Wit and Humor in Italian Renaissance Art (Columbia and London: University of Missouri Press, 1978). Although there were Florentines living in Rome at the end of the fifteenth century, their numbers increased substantially after Leo's election. During his reign as pope, Leo continually demonstrated his Florentine partiality and pride by, among other things, honoring the Florentine patron saint, John the Baptist, in Rome. As recorded by Marcantonio Michiel, the Venetian diarist to whom we were introduced earlier, for the saint's feast day in June 1520, the pope's sponsored activities included a special Mass attended by cardinals and ambassadors, a luncheon, and a dinner with entertainments by musicians and buffoons. Leo and his entourage also viewed the afternoon horse-and buffalo-races and an evening display of fireworks; see Michael Alan Anderson, '"His name will be called John': reception and symbolism in Obrecht's Missa de Sancto de Johanne Baptista," Early Music XXXIX, no. 4 (2011): 549-50. Anderson also discusses the contemporary connections made between Leo and his namesake patron saint, which may have further bearing on his healing propaganda in view of the symbolic connotations associated with the rite of baptism (see above and note 41). A more important homage to the saint was Leo's authorization of the Compagnia della Pieta, a confraternity composed of Florentine men living in Rome, to begin construction of the church of San Giovanni dei Fiorentini. The church was intended to not only serve the Florentine community, but to also glorify Leo's papacy while asserting the Medici presence in Rome; on this point see Lilian Zirpolo, Ave Papa/Ave Papabile: The Sacchetti Family, Their Art Patronage, and Political Aspirations. Essays and Studies Series 6 (Toronto: Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 2005), 30.
(65.) This was the view of some early modern physicians, who cited classical authorities in support of their position; see M.A. Katritzky, Healing, Performance and Ceremony in the Writings of Three Early Modern Physicians: Hippolytus Guarinonius, and the Brothers Felix and Thomas Platter (Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate, 2012), 164; and for a more extensive discussion, Angus Gowland, The Worlds of Renaissance Melancholy: Robert Burton in Context (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 85-97.
(66.) Classic studies on the Evil Eye include Alan Wace, "Grotesques and the Evil Eye," Annual of the British School at Athens X (1903-4), 103-14; and Frederick Elworthy, The Evil Eye: An Account of this Ancient & Widespread Superstition (London: John Murray, 1895).
(67.) Amulets of Ptah were referred to as Ptah-Pataikoi; see discussion in Dasen, Dwarfs, 84-98, and for Bes, 55-83. In the second century, the grammarian Pollux (Onomasticon 7:108) wrote that "It was customary to hang before the furnaces of the bronze workers certain laughable images (geloia), which were called baskania, or to depict them in relief ... for the aversion of ill will"; cited in Christopher Faraone, Talismans and Trojan Horses: Guardian Statues in Ancient Greek Myth and Ritual (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 55. This practice reminds us of what Faraone observes is the "traditional overlap between the apotropaic and comic"; ibid., 121. The term baskania is also used to connote the Evil Eye; ibid., 42.
(68.) A terracotta lamp from the second century and now in the Agora museum in Athens depicts Telesphoros with an oversized phallus. Similar to geloia, the Romans used tintinnabula, bronze statuettes with bells attached that were hung up in shops to avert evil; these were especially popular in Pompeii and Herculaneum. See Stefano De Caro, ed., II Gabinetto segreto del museo archeologico nazionale di Napoli (Naples: Electa, 2000), 70-71.
(69.) The use of the apotropaic phallus (fascinum) is discussed in De Caro, ibid., 66-81, which also provides several illustrated examples.
(70.) Strictly speaking, in modem parlance an apotropaion, or amulet, is used to avert evil, while a talisman connotes something that attracts and insures good fortune. Notably, in the Vision the dwarf also sports an apotropaic gorgon on his helmet. In a similar vein, the cock that adorns the hilt of his sword may have served an apotropaic function, since it was believed to protect against the Evil Eye and demonic intervention. This may be why dwarfs are portrayed carrying cocks in Greco-Roman imagery and why the bird was a popular sacrifice to Asclepius (see note 47 above). See also Wace, "Grotesques," 105-06; Lorrayne Baird, "Priapus Gallinaceus: The Role of the Cock in Fertility and Eroticism in Classical Antiquity and the Middle Ages," Studies in Iconography 7-8 (1981-2): 91-92; Ruth Meilmkoff, Averting Demons: The Protective Power of Medieval Visual Motifs and Themes, 2 vols. (Los Angeles: Ruth Mellinkoff Publications, 2004), 1: 89; and Edelstein, Asclepius, 1:190 n. 23.
(71.) The incident was recorded in Vita Leonis X, lib. I, 4. An extensive account of the plot on Leo's life and the actions taken to deal with the perpetrators is contained in Pastor, History of the Popes, 7: 170-96.
(72.) Pico della Mirandola wrote these words in March 1517; see James Monti, The King's Good Servant but God's First: The Life and Writings of Saint Thomas More (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1997), 113.
(73.) Luther's letter was dated September 6, 1520; in Martin Luther, Concerning Christian Liberty: With Letter of Martin Luther to Leo X (Forth Worth: RDMc Publishing, 2007), 11.
(74.) The pope was too embroiled in political affairs to recognize the gravity of Luther's revolt, nor was he prepared to give up the pleasures afforded him by his tenure at the Vatican. Here we may note that Leo's pleasure-seeking and sociable personality was indeed "sanguine," in accordance with one of Galen's four temperaments.
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|Publication:||Southeastern College Art Conference Review|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2015|
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