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Part 3: Neptune the warlord

"Do ye now dare, O winds, without command of mine, to mingle earth and sky, and raise confusion thus? Whom I-!....." Aeneid I. (124 -156)

In the battle for Troy and as the saviour of the hero Aeneus, Neptune threatens the winds that deter Aeneus from reaching safety on the Italian shore at Latium. Ammannati’s marble Neptune in the Piazza Signoria in Florence is surrounded by aquatic imagery and suggests watchfulness at sea. The decoration of river gods and pagan beings on the fountain reminds the viewer that Renaissance patrons acknowledged their debt to antiquity by using representations known from the ancient world.

Neptune stands erect holding his baton of command and alludes to the Duke’s power as a naval commander. It refers to the reopening of the harbour of Pisa in 1561 and the establishment of a naval patrol for the Mediterranean. Also, Cosimo associated himself with ancient city fathers like Aeneus and with the Emperor Augustus "builder of Rome", who shared the same zodiac sign as Cosimo which is displayed on the fountain’s chariot wheels. The fountain also celebrates the arrival of water in the city centre from the new aqueduct provided by Cosimo. The image of Neptune was incorporated on medals cast to commemorate the building of the aqueduct.

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