Se Eros e Thanatos a Palazzo Abatellis

Flavia Rossi


Palermo, Sicily, Italy

The “Triumph Of Death” is a fresco to be found in Palazzo Abatellis in Palermo. It’s a tale of death that aims to restore meaning to life. Death is circled by rows of rich and poor people alike, perceivable by following their eyes as if in a vortex. Their eyes are the focal point, by means of which emotions intentions and thoughts are sensed. Observers of the fresco are involved in a game of glances that becomes almost erotic. The only figure not facing the observer is the falconer, who in the desire to hide his eyes wishes to go beyond the fresco. Whatever is not depicted in the fresco is left to the imagination. The falconer has the role of directing the whole tale, a metaphor, an oracle in a celestial map. Everything in the painting corresponds exactly to constellation and astrological signs. The present is to be found on the circumference, while on the ecliptic the equinox. The position and angle of the ecliptic at a latitude of 38° correspond to the city of Palermo. Relating the characters in the "Triumph" to images of starry skies underlines man’s devastation face to face with death as compared top the indifference of the heavens that consider it mere earthly suffering. The stars has long been considered as guides, maps of hope and desires of those wish to be able to read their destiny in them. Faith is in fact represented in the figure of three women holding hands alluding to the myth of the three Parcae. Their heads form a triangle, indicating they are the weavers of human life. The fresco symbolizes the passage of man’s time, whereas the starry sky the universe, to which man is strongly tied, so much so that all the eyes are connected as if in a constellation. The fresco is therefore a moral allegory of life on earth, whereas stargazing may be interpreted as the circle of life projected beyond into the universe.

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