NUMA POMPILIUS'S ROOM
I dreamed of becoming a hero
The legends and stories of the ancients are a model for Milzetti and for his generation, and they search for themselves in the values and deeds of the heroes of the past.
The public function of this room is highlighted by the solemn tone of the decorations. The story of Numa Pompilius, the second king of Rome who donated the first written laws to the Romans, is narrated on the ceiling.
The story begins with the painting in the center: the ambassadors ask Numa to accept the throne after the death of Romulus. He accepts and the story continues Counterclockwise starting from the rondos below: Numa goes to the Capitol Hill to inquire for the will of the gods through the flight of birds; he then climbs the Aventine Hill to appeal to Jupiter and blesses the Vestals, the virgins who guard the sacred hearth.
The Vestals are the most important priestesses in Rome and are completely consecrated to the divinity. They cannot go against the will of the gods, under penalty of terrible punishments such as those inflicted by the Pontifex Maximus depicted in the tondo. In the next square a Vestal virgin is walled up alive for having sinned by breaking the vow of chastity.
In the next two rondos Numa is consecrated king of Rome and meets Egeria, a water nymph, whom he marries in his second marriage.
The last episodes are dedicated to the books with the laws that he learns directly from the Muses. The books are kept in a stone ark and found intact following a flood four hundred years after his death. The prefect Petilius deems the dissemination of those books sacrilegious, so he decides to burn them.
At the age of 36, Count Milzetti obtained his first important position, and he cannot afford any distraction because he has a moral obligation to respect the severity of the role he covers. Only with discipline and severity can he reach the wisdom of the exemplary Numa Pompilius and be remembered in the history books.
The Count’s generation is deeply linked to these ideals and this heroism, but things change very quickly: young people begin to follow Giuseppe Mazzini’s patriotic ideas and abandon the Napoleonic ideal. The pro-French people want to change the world but their ideals fade like the tapestry of these walls, which time has turned from intense blue to yellow.