The "Buon Governo" - Good Government


Dominating is the figure of Ben Comune, the public welfare, in an imposing ruling figure in black/white cloth (Siena's coat of arms) upon a throne with scepter and shield. At his feet - an allusion to Siena's foundation's legend - the Roman lupa (she-wolf) and the twins Ascanius and Senio, the sons of Remus. Over Ben Comune's head the cardinal virtues are hovering: Fides [Belief], Caritas [Love] and Spes [Hope].

Several other virtues are placed on the same throne-bench to Ben Comune's concept of excellent rulership: That's Justitia [Justice] - the severe justice with the crown of reign, the sword and the cut-off heads of the wrongdoer.

Next to her Temperantia [Temperance], named after tempus - the time that is measured - but also after temperare = mixing and modifying. She is shown with an hour-glass as the symbol of measurement and of adequacy.

Right next to Ben Comune the Magnanimitas [Magnanimity] - the most noble of all noble virtues. The concept of Magnanimity includes Generosity and Clementia [Clemency] against defeated and sentenced, but also the promotion of arts and trade.

On the other side next to Ben Comune enthrones Prudentia [Foresight], the well-considering Intelligence. Then there's Fortitudo [Fortitude], who knows how to protect all the other virtues, and Pax [Peace].

Pax with her translucent gauze cloth carries the face of a Venus and is perhaps one of the most beautiful pictures of the 14th century. At first glance she's just lounging upon a soft pillow - which means Luxuria [Prosperity]. But she only seems to be defenceless, because under her pillow you detect a piece of armour and at her feet a shield. Altogether: Pax is a disarmed twin sister of Fortitudo who can do - so far - without weapons. Last but not least this is a hint to Siena's neighbour Florence, not to mix peaceful wealth with weakness.

Here is shown the separation of powers between the authority of Ben Comune and the separately depictured throne of the considering Justice. Over her head hovers Sapientia [Wisdom]. The inscription close to Justice demands to judge with pleasure - both punishing and rewarding.

At Justice's feet sits the figure of Concordia [Concord]. Concord connects everything with the double-rope that is running through Justice's pair of scales and only in the hands of Concord becomes a turned and tight rope. Thus Concord connects Justice, reign and bourgeoisie. On her knees she carries the equal-making carpenter's bench. The rope she's holding out to the first of the bourgeoisie and you will realize that all good citizens are pulling together on one rope - which is ending in the scepter of Ben Comune.

Also at Justice's feet are painted a crowd of rogues, hands tied. Revolter, traitor, all forced under the reign of Ben Comune.

Following the depiction of the Good Government on the right long wall spreads a seven meter's long panorama, that shows the town as a refuge of security, justice and right. Within its walls are peace, joy and concord, and above the town gate hovers the winged Securitas [security]. In her left hand she's holding a gallows with a hung man, which shows the town as place of practised justice.

The "Malgoverno" - Bad Government


On the left wall Tyrannis [tyranny, with horns, dagger and poison] opposes Ben Comune. It is the Bad Government or War. He is accompanied by Superbia [arrogance], trying to force others under its yoke. There's furthermore Avaritia, the ugly old crow of stinginess, and Vana Gloria, the beautiful, self-mirroring vanity. The adviser of Tyrannis are Furor [fury], depicted as a little, devilish centaur, swinging dagger and stones; Fraus [fraud], Proditio [betrayal] and Crudelitas [cruelty].

Tyrannis is a work of the devil because it supports itself upon the the figure of the Devil's Bock. On the ground lies the tied up Justice. Those, who call for Justice are killed from behind, and with an empty purse you shouldn't ask her for help anyway.

In a dramatically memorable black and white painting are shown the effects to town and land: citizens are killed and arrested, shops are closed or half empty - except the arms dealer; the neglected houses decayed. Outside the gates hover devilish figures, one of which is named as Timor [fear], while travellers only dare to come outside the town gates in the company of armed troops. The flat country is in a worse state: in the background a ghostly castle, otherwise everywhere just ruins, fire, war; among it marouding soldiers, robbery, murder and terror. The painter has described a vision of horror that became reality with the plague just a few years later.