Paintings from Roman History in "Il Palazzone", Cortona







1. The Battle of Trasimeno: [Trasimeno]

The Battle of Trasimeno: this fresco is of great documentary value both for the view of the Palazzone and how Cortona looked in the first half of the 16th century: the rock of Girifalco can be seen before the building of the Medici fortress ordered by Cosimo I, the village of S. Domenico with its walls and gate, the recently completed church of S. Maria del Calcinaio and a partial view of the village of S. Vincenzo.


2. Cincinnatus being elected dictator: [Cincinnatus]
During the war against the Aequians 457 BC, a group of senators was sent to tell Cincinnatus that he had been nominated dictator. According to Livy, the senators found Cincinnatus while he was plowing on his farm. They said to Cincinnatus that they hoped "It might turn out well for both him and his country", and then they asked him to put on his senatorial toga and hear the mandate of the senate. Cincinnatus cried out "Is everything all right?" He called out to his wife, telling her to bring him his toga from their cottage. When he put on his toga, the senatorial delegation hailed him as dictator, and told him to come to the city


3. Lucius Junius Brutus at the temple of Delphi: [Delphi]
Brutus gained the trust of Tarquin's (king's) family by feigning slow-wittedness (in Latin brutus translates to dullard), thereby allowing the Tarquins to underestimate him as a potential threat. He accompanied Tarquin's sons on a trip to the Oracle of Delphi. The sons asked the oracle who would be the next ruler of Rome. The Oracle responded the next person to kiss his mother would become king. Brutus interpreted "mother" to mean the Earth, so he pretended to trip and kissed the ground. Lateron, Lucius Junius Brutus was the founder of the Roman Republic and traditionally one of the first Consuls in 509 BC.


4. The struggle between Horatios and Curiatios: (see also here) [Horatios]
During the war between Albalonga and Rome, to avoid great bloodshed, it was decided that three champions from Alba would have to fight against three champions from Rome. The Romans choosed the three Horatian brothers, the Albans the three Curiatian brothers. They fought the strange duel, in the vast field, between the two armies. At first the duel was not propitious for the three Romans, as a matter of fact, two of them died, while two of the three Albans were only hurt. Then the Horatian thought of a trick: he couldn't fight them all together, alone, so he pretended to run away, and he was followed by the faster unhurt Curiatian. Suddenly the Roman turned and killed the first enemy to be persued by the second Alban whom he also killed. Then to the exultation of the Roman army the Horatian killed the final enemy, too.


5. The loyalty of M. Furio Camillo (or see here, here, or here): [Furio Camillo]
During the Roman siege of the Etruscan city Falerii a school master in Falerii wanted to stop the siege by bringing the Romans children from Falerii as hostages. He took his boys on a field trip in the countryside. Further and further away from the city walls they went until they “accidentally” found themselves in the camp of the Roman general in charge (M. Furius Camillus) of the forces besieging the city. When the Roman general understood the treachery the school master was proposing, that the boys should be held as hostages, he lived up to his name. Enraged, he armed the boys with rods and scourges and had the school master stripped and hand-bound. The boys then flogged him all the way back to Falerii. The citizens were so overwhelmed by this act of Roman propriety and generosity that they immediately opened the gates and surrendered. This story is told by Livy as an example of the morally upright character of the Romans during the time of the Republic.


6. The killing of Tarquinio Prisco by the sons of Anco Marzio: [Tarquinio Prisco]
Lucius Tarquinius Priscus (616 BC to 579 BC) (better known as Tarquin I) came to Rome from Etruria while Ancus Martius was still on the throne. When Martius died, Tarquin jumped at the opportunity to be named king. He got the children of the dead king out of the way by sending them on a trip and started his quest for the crown. Years later, the sons of Ancus Martius were jealous of him because they believed that he cheated them out of what legally belonged to them, the kingship, and hired two assasans to kill him. Tarquin did not die on the spot which gave his successor time to rule in his place for a short time.


7. Curio Dentato answering the Sannite ambassadors: [Sannite]
Curius Dentatus was supposed to have been incorruptible and frugal; the story was that when the Samnites sent ambassadors with expensive gifts in an attempt to influence him (as Consul) in their favor, they found him sitting by the hearth roasting turnips. He refused the gifts, saying that he preferred ruling the possessors of gold over possessing it himself.


8. Cloelia fleeing from Porsenna by crossing the Tiber: [Cloelia]
According to Roman tradition, Cloelia was one of the young Roman girls given as hostages to Lars Porsenna, king of the Etruscan town of Clusium. Cloelia, however, escaped her captors, swimming across the river Tiber. She also led many of the other Roman girls to safety.


9. Mucius Scaevola burning his hand in front of Porsenna: [Scaevola]

When the Etruscan king Lars Porsenna held Rome under siege, Gaius Mucius famously sneaked into the Etruscan camp and attempted to murder Porsenna. His plot failed because he misindentified Porsenna and killed the wrong man. Mucius was captured. He famously declared to Porsenna: "I am Gaius Mucius, a citizen of Rome. I came here as an enemy to kill my enemy, and I am as ready to die as I am to kill. We Romans act bravely and, when adversity strikes, we suffer bravely." Also declaring that he was one of three hundred other Romans willing to give their own life to kill Porsenna. Porsenna, fearful and angry, ordered Mucius to be cast into the flames. Mucius stoically accepted this punishment, preempting Porsenna by thrusting his hand into that same fire and giving no sign of pain. For his courage, Porsenna freed Mucius.


10. P. Orazio Coclite defending the Ponte Sublicio: [Coclite]"
Horatius Cocles defended the Pons Sublicius, the bridge that led across the Tiber to Rome, against the Etruscans. In Livy's account it is stated that there were two men who stayed with Horatius while the others fled. The other two eventually left at Horatius' request. As he defended the bridge, the Romans destroyed it behind him. When they were done, he either swam to safety on the Roman side (according to Livy), or was drowned in the Tiber (according to Polybius).


11. Lucretia being raped by Sesto Tarquinio: [Lucretia_1]"
Lucius Tarquinius Superbus (superbus, "the proud") the last king of Rome, had a violent son, Sextus Tarquinius, who in 509 BC raped a Roman noblewoman named Lucretia.


12. Lucretia killing herself in the presence of her husband, Collatinus, and L. Junius Brutus: [Lucretia_2]"
Lucretia compelled her family to take action by gathering her kinsmen, telling them what happened, and then killing herself. Her brother Lucius Junius Brutus incited the people of Rome against the royal family by displaying her body. They were impelled to avenge her, and Brutus led an uprising that drove the Tarquins out of Rome to take refuge in Etruria. The result was the replacement of the monarchy with the new republic.


13. Maro Curzio throwing himself into an abyss: [Curzio]"
When one day a gap suddenly appeared on the Forum in Rome, an oracle said that it could only be closed by the most precious thing Rome possessed. The wellbeing of the town depended on it. Marcus Curtius sacrificed himself by jumping fully armed and mounted on the finest horse into the gap, which then closed itself.

(Bad Picture, sorry. If someone can provide a better one I would be happy to replace this picture!)


14. The head of Asdrubale: [Hasdrubal]"

The head of Hasdrubal defeated near the Metauro being thrown into the camp of his brother Hannibal in Apulia.


15. The judgement of innocent Virginia: [Virginia_1]"
In 451 BC, the decemvir Appius Claudius began to lust after Verginia, a beautiful plebeian girl and the daughter of Lucius Verginius, a respected centurion. Verginia was betrothed to Lucius Icilius, a former tribune of the plebs, and when she rejected Claudius, Claudius had one of his clients, Marcus Claudius, claim that she was actually his slave. Marcus Claudius then abducted her while she was on her way to school.


16. Virginia being killed by her father Virginio: [Virginia_2]"
The crowd in the Forum objected to the kidnapping, and forced Marcus Claudius to bring the case before the decemvirs, led by Appius Claudius himself. When her father Verginius arrived he gathered his supporters in the Forum. Claudius, however, would not let him speak, and declared that Verginia was indeed Marcus Claudius' slave. Appius Claudius had brought an armed escort with him and accused the citizens of sedition. The supporters of Verginius left the Forum rather than cause any violence, and Verginius begged to question his daughter himself. Claudius agreed to this, but Verginius grabbed a knife and stabbed Verginia, the only way he felt he could uphold her freedom. Verginius and Icilius were arrested, and their supporters returned to attack the lictors and destroy their fasces. This led to the overthrow of the decemviri and the re-establishment of the Roman Republic


Map of the salone: [Salone]"


Laokoon: [Laokoon]"


Heracles fighting the giant Antaeus [Heracles]"


Death of Cleopatra [Cleopatra]"


Painting in the front [front]"


Judith and Holofernes [Cleopatra]"



Cote of arms in the Palazzone:
Emblem of the Pucci family, Florence [Moor]"


Emblem of the Medici combined with Passerini's ox [Moor]"


Emblem of the Medici combined with Pucci family's moor [Moor]"

More on the Moor's head: Heraldry, Corsica, Sardinia.


Examples for the cote of arms of Medici, Pucci, and Silvio Passerini: Cote of arms.


Pope Leo X and Silvio Passerini, Cardinal


The black prince of Florence and his marriage with the illegitime daughter of emperor Charles V: Alessandro di Medici


History of Cortona: Passerini in Cortona


For more information see also the leaflets Il Palazzone, The Palazzone in Cortona, Il Palazzone di Cortona, The Palazzone.