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The Venetian Lions

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The Urge To Wander

The iconic bronze winged lion on top of the granite column in the piazetta. Viewed from the top of the clock tower right across the Piazza! The iconic, 4th century, bronze winged lion on top of the granite column in the piazetta as viewed from the top of the clock tower right across the Piazza San Marco! Note the gospel beneath its paws which is a later addition, along with the wings.

Status was paramount in the ancient world. For empires, as much as for ordinary citizens. The aura of power, as important as the exercise of power itself. Visual imagery and symbolism went a long way in engendering that impression. And so it was, that a maritime republic of the stature of Venice, felt the need to be associated with a patron saint of greater eminence than their humble Saint Theodore.

An elaborate myth was created therefore, around the legend of a prophesy that the Venetian lagoon would be the final resting place of the apostle Saint Mark, which was then used to legitimize the smuggling out of his remains from his tomb in Alexandria. And the winged lion…

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