bond between the art and the sky observation, of the celestial bodies which
fill it in and their influences on the life of the man, it's established in
In the Troy book, it comes so described the Achille's shield that was
realized by Efesto: "and he did as first a great and heavy shield adorning
it everywhere; an edge he made in it, shiny, triple, sparkling, and a silver
shoulder belt. They were five zones in the shield, and in it he made many
ornaments with his wise thoughts. He made in it the earth, the sky and the
sea, the tireless sun and the full moon and all those signs that crown the
sky, the Pleiadis, the Iadi and the strength of Orion and the Ursa that they
call with the name of the Charriot: it turns above itself and it looks at
Orion, and alone it doesn't have part of the Ocean levacris."
We can affirm then that the most ancient work of art with a representation
of the sky and its constellations is attributable to the time of the Dčis,
to the God Efesto.
Even the human body became an astrological map with the diffusion, since the
12th century, of the "Melothesia", an encoded doctrine in Roman epoch from
Manilio: to every part of the body it was the correspondance with a zodiacal
sign; the astrological medicine pointed out therefore the predisposition
toward the determination of the illnesses indicated by the sign of birth,
avoiding to operate if the Moon were in the same sign corresponding to the
sick orga and choosing the cares among the grasses dominated by that sign.
Art, mirror of culture, reflected this branched penetration of the
astrological wisdom in the western thought, with a proliferation of images,
situated in Churches, in buildings of court, in the Pontifical ones.
From the Middle Ages to the Renaissance it was realized in Italy a notable
series of astrological cycles, with different kinds of characteristics:
calendar give structures, with the association of the zodiacal signs to
every month of the year, to the exposures of the influences of the Planets
and the signs on the activities of the man; from the celestial maps, to the
representations of the mythological origins of the constellations.
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The greatest complexity finds in the cycles
in which a horoscope is represented: it deals with the particular
situation of the sky in correspondence of important events or during the
birth (the parentage) of the buyer.
The powerful persons of the Renaissance as the Roman emperors, affirmed
the inevitability of their glory through the theme of their parentage.
Cosimo the Old man made to fresco a horoscope in the St. Lorenzo's Old
sacristy; and after him the whole Medici family interested into
astrology and submitted a long series of cycles to great artists: from
Luca Della Robbia to Vasari, to the Bronzino.
The powerful Siena's banker Agostino Chigi made to realize his own
horoscope to the Farnesina from Baldassarre Peruzzi, submitting then the
decoration to Raffaello with astrological theme of his own funeral
chapel. The same Raffaello painted, on application of Giulio II, the
situation of the sky during his election to the papacy, in the room of
the Marking in Vatican.
The decorations of the vatican apartments reflect in unequivocal way the
complex cultural reality of the epoch: in the apartments of Alexander VI
Borgia, Pinturicchio illustrated the influences of the planets on the
activities and the character of theirs "children"; in the room of the
Pontiffs, Giovanni from Udine and Perin del Vaga painted on commission
of Leone X Medici, the popes' images close to those of the
constellations; on the Five hundred foreshortening, Gregorio XIII made
then to decorate the top of the room in Bologna with one detailed
It will only be with the end of Five hundred that its "erudite
superstitio" (as the astrology was defined by the Cumont) will be
forgotten: in the following centuries the astrological themes will
return on the tops or on the walls of the buildings, but reduced to
purely decorative motives.