By Peter Worman
Last week we looked at the fresco’s of Ambrogio Lorenzetti. These consisted of three main fresco’s painted in the government building in Sienna, the first being the allegory of good governance, secondly, the effects of good governance in the city and countryside and the third, the effects of bad governance in the city and countryside. These fresco’s were painted in the 14th century. Last week we looked at the allegory of good and governance and today we’ll look at the second fresco showing the effects of good governance in the city and country.
What we can see in the first fresco are the clear effects of good governance where there is abundance, commerce flourishes and there are no signs of deprivation. There are indications of art and culture where there is a depiction of beautifully attired ladies dancing, teachers conducting classes and clearly the citizens are free to engage unhindered in the trades they are suited to. We can see evidence of construction taking place and no evidence of any poverty. The leaders of Sienna would thus be regularly reminded of their duty to maintain justice and harmony for the city to thrive.
Interestingly the leaders were rotated every three months such was their fear of corruption taking hold. A far cry from today where leaders vote themselves in for a lifetime of leadership or at the very least, for 5 year terms.
If we now look at the effects of good leadership in the country, we are presented with similar scenes to the city. ( I do apologise for the unclear graphics but these are readily available on the internet if you search for Ambroglio Lorenzetti) What we see in this fresco are well tended farms and people going about their business of planting and reaping and donkey carts transporting goods to the markets in the city.
An interesting part of the fresco depicts horsemen who are clearly of the aristocratic class of the city going out hunting. I am sure that they regularly kept an eye out for the needs of the rural folk and were always well-aware of their needs. It’s worth mentioning that Socrates regarded Aristocracy, or the rule of the wise, as the best system of government. I will refer to this later in this series of talks. Again, a far cry to the wealthy businessmen who currently control the organs of production.
Next week we will look at the effects of bad governance in both the city and the rural areas.
What we need to bear in mind is that what we are aiming at is not some warm and fuzzy society where life is beautiful all the time. We need to clearly remember the role of lady Justice who both punishes (sometimes extremely violently) AND rewards people for good behaviour. Some of sanctions imposed would have been public lashings or executions and in extreme cases excommunication. The laws imposed would be clear and unambiguous and most importantly the most severe punishment would be meted out to leaders who failed in their duty.