10. St Magno's Crypt - part 2

10. St Magno's Crypt - part 2

Let’s now turn to the frescos on the first two vaults, the one immediately above the entrance and the one following it: these depict the Creation of the Cosmos and its components. On the first vault, we find a depiction of the Firmament with Zodiac Signs, a few of which, namely Leo, Cancer and Pisces, are still visible.

The following is probably the most outstanding scene of the entire sequence and depicts a rare philosophical and scientific interpretation of the Creation of Man. What makes it unique is its veering from the sacred texts; it is in fact directly derived from Plato’s Timaeus. This is one of the Greek philosopher’s dialogues, in the course of which he articulates that all that surrounds us is born of the union of four elements: fire, air, water and earth. According to Plato, these do not mix in a casual manner, rather they mix according to specific principles based on quality and quantity, as illustrated on the pillar with the diagram (photo). The spheres on the left encapsulate the four elements followed by Roman numerals corresponding to specific mathematical proportions. Those on the right illustrate the characteristics of each element.

Up above, on the vault, a man is at the centre of a double circular shape: the inner circle represents the cycle of human life, while the outer circle stands for nature’s lifecycle. Both are divided into four parts, each of which symbolises one of the phases in the age of man (infancy, adolescence, maturity and old age), a human temperament (bloodthirsty, choleric, melancholic and impassive), a season (spring, summer, autumn and winter) and one of the elements (air, fire, earth and water). To each element corresponds a season, a phase in the life of man and a temperament.

Just below, on the wall, two of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine, Galen and Hippocrates, discuss such theory.