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Misadventures in Tuscany

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This is my fifth book about an impromptu trip we made to Tuscany in November 2008 simply because we could not resist the bargain flight to Pisa. It turned out to be more than we bargained for however, as my bungling surpassed new heights, or should that be plunged more depths, as we lurched from one crisis to the next? However there was still some time for some cultural highlights along the way.
I have seen many sculptures more impressive than David.  And one of them happens to be here, in the Loggia dei Lanzi: The Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna. He also has another very fine exhibit here, Hercules beating the centaur Nessus, but it is the earlier one that I really, really admire:

The scene depicts how to pick up a woman, Roman style.  You don’t bother with small talk, just hoist the lady into the air as if she were a ballerina.  But if the anguished look on her face is anything to go by, she is not in the mood for dancing.  Meanwhile, between the rude intruder’s legs is the crouched figure of a terrified man, who in a hopeless, helpless gesture, is pleading with him to put his wife down.  They have apparently been in bed as neither of them are wearing any clothes. Which must be a trifle embarrassing, especially for the lady.

She mightn't have been so worried if the unexpected visitor too, had not been in the nuddy when he came to call. Maybe his intention was to show that he came unarmed and wasn't concealing any hidden weapons, apart from his weapon of mass reproduction. For her part, naturally, she fears a fate worse than death and doesn’t know (how could she?) that she is not going to be raped at all: she’s merely going to be made an offer which she was quite at liberty to refuse – the Romulus plan.  Full Roman citizenship with all its rights and privileges in return for giving up her husband and remarrying and making lots of little Romans. What would you do?  A bit of a dilemma really for there was no way of knowing then that the infant Rome was going to become one of the greatest civilizations ever.  I suppose, if it were me, and putting myself into the position of a prospective wife, it would all depend if you were allowed to choose the new husband or had one thrust upon you.

Apart from the movement and drama in this sculpture, what appeals to me most is the way you can walk round it and see the action from different angles. There is no one particular point of view or position from which it should be viewed, no front and no backside, which is exactly what you would see if you were to walk behind David on a pedestal and look up

 

Whichever way you look at it, from Romulus’ point of view, or mine, or even from hers, had the lady not averted her eyes, it can be seen that the abductor does not pose an immediate threat, for the angle of his supposed weapon of mass reproduction is at a respectful dangle.  That should have been a reassuring sign for her, had she happened to notice it.  And if I had been in her place, I might just have chosen to be a Roman matriarch after all, just as long as I didn’t get the blame if there was no patter of tiny Roman feet just as soon as conceivably possible.


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