Shakespeare and Italy: L’Occaso

Dr. Michael Delahoyde
Washington State University

Shakespeare and Italy:

L’Occaso, Stefano. The Ducal Palace of Mantua. Milan: Mondadori Electra S.p.a., 2002.

“Once work on the Palazzina della Paleologa next to the Castello had been completed, Giulio turned his attention to the creation of the Appartamento di Troia (“Apartment of Troy,” 1536-39), planning and supervising every phase of the project just as he had done with Palazzo Te and the Palazzina. The apartment commenced with what is now the Sala di Manto (“Room of Manto”), whose present appearance is the fruit of a later intervention, and continued with a succession of rooms: the Sala dei Cavalli (“Room of the Horses”), Sala delle Teste (“Room of the Heads”), Sala di Troia (“Room of Troy”), and Camerino dei Cesari (“Study of the Caesars”). It was also given an open loggia, where the Galleria dei Mesi or dei Marmi (“Gallery of the Months” or “of the Marbles”) is now located” (68).

“Currently the Sala di Manto constitutes the entrance to both the Appartamento di Troia and the Appartamento Grande di Castello, which Guglielmo wanted to dedicate to a celebration of the Gonzaga family, starting from the origins of the city of Mantua, to which this first room is dedicated” (69).”The loggia looks out onto the Cortile dei Cani (“Courtyard of the Dogs,” formerly known as the Cortile dei Giarelli). This was probably originally a terrace facing onto the lake and only became a courtyard in Guglielmo’s time, when the tablet commemorating a little dog called Oriana, carved by Giulio Romano in 1526, was set in the wall” (72).

[“I Gonzaga tenevano in gran conto i cavalli ma amavano anche i cani: curiosa testimonianza, nell’ala che dà sul lago Inferiore, il “Cortile dei Cani”, pensile, con una lapide in memoria di “Oriana cagnolina celeste”. (Renzo Dall’Ara, “L’Appartamento dei Nani,” Mantova dai Mille Volti.]

“Returning to the Sala delle Teste, we come next to the enormous room from which the apartment takes its name. The Sala di Troia (“Room of Troy”) is decorated with scenes from Homer’s Iliad, painted in brilliant colors and with remarkable narrative force (especially on the ceiling) by Giulio Romano and his large band of assistants. Starting from the wall opposite to entrance and going from left to right, the scenes represented are the Abduction of Helen, Dream of Hecuba and Judgment of Paris, Tethys Delivering the Arms to / Achilles, the Trojan Horse, Vulcan Forging Achilles’ Shield, the Death of Laocoön and finally, on the short wall adjoining the Loggia di Eleonora, Ajax Struck by a Thunderbolt on the Rock. Above the molding are represented various moments from the battles described in the Iliad, which provides the inspiration for all the scenes. Finally, several Gods and Goddesses of Olympus are painted at the center of the vault. The cycle may be alluding, in its reference to Greek history, to the acquisition of the marquisate of Monferrato through Federico’s marriage to Margherita Paleologa, a descendant of the rulers of Constantinople” (74-75).

Italian Bibliography