Giovanni di Stefano, Hermes Trismegistus
Inscription at the entrance
The wolf suckling Romulus and Remus
Guidoccio Cozzarelli, The Libyan Sibyl
Pinturicchio, The Fortune
This area of the floor, the only area made of mosaic, is probably the oldest in view of the different technique used. The She-Wolf was adopted as the symbol of Siena in the Middle Ages in reference to the city's legendary founding by Aschius and Senius, the two sons of Remus. Behind the beast one can make out the fig tree (Ficus Ruminalis) where the legend says the shepherd Faustulus discovered Romulus and Remus after they had been left on the banks of the Tiber.
The lower part of the inlay designed by Pinturicchio (the fourth panel in the nave) depicts the personification of Fortune: a naked young girl holds the horn of plenty in her right hand while waving a wind-filled sail aloft with her left as though it were some kind of banner. Her balance is unstable, her right foot resting on a globe while her left foot stands on an ungovernable vessel whose main mast has snapped. After a stormy journey, Fortune has succeeded in landing a group of wise men on a rocky islet and they are having to climb a steep and insidious hill in an attempt to reach a female figure, Wisdom or Virtue, perched at the top. With her left hand the figure offers a book to Crates of Thebes, who sheds all his spurious earthly wealth by throwing a basket full of jewels into the sea, while with her right hand she offers Socrates a palm frond. The message enshrined in the allegory on the floor is clear: the path to Wisdom is fraught with difficulties and pitfalls but on overcoming the trials and tribulations one achieves quies or serenity, symbolised by the plateau covered only in flowering shrubs, and clearly stated in the inscription engraved above Fortune's head urging the observer to attempt to climb the grim hill.