Asmodeus at Rennes le Chateau and the Battle
In the book, The Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci (Harcourt 1945), is a telling sketch of a soldier that Leonardo da Vinci drew as a study for his Battle of Anghiari fresco (shown on left). Both Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were commissioned to decorate the Hall of Five Hundred in the Palazzo Vecchio in the early 1500’s.
Michelangelo was to depict a scene of the Battle of Cascina on one wall, while da Vinci was to display a scene known as the Battle of Anghiari on the opposite wall. The finished portrayals were meant to celebrate victories of the Floretine armies.
Both works were unfortunately abandoned and the hall was later renovated, causing any remains of the incomplete images to be lost. To briefly comment, recent investigations have been made to determine if the unfinished fresco by da Vinci may in fact stand behind the subsequent mural by Vasari. Nothing as of yet has been confirmed on this.
Nevertheless, the Battle of Anghiari was admired by those who saw Leonardo’s work in progress and it is known various copies were made of the central section depicting the intense struggle for the banner. Peter Paul Rubens’ depiction of the Battle of the Standard is one such painting directly based from Leonardo da Vinci’s impressive battle scene.
Recounted in Leonardo’s Notebooks (Black Dog and Leventhal Publishers 2005), are some of da Vinci’s thoughts on how a battle should be represented. Such as:
“Some maimed warrior may be seen fallen to the earth, covering himself with a shield, while the enemy, bending over him, tries to deal him a deathstroke” or “Others represent shouting with their mouths open, and running away. You must scatter arms of all sorts among the feet of the combantants, as broken shields, lances, broken swords and other such objects.”
It is noticed certain thoughts of the above are captured in the image by Rubens (shown right) and were most likely included in da Vinci’s orignal Battle of Anghiari. Interesting to notice, in both the Rubens copy and the da Vinci study sketch, is the similarity of the facial expression to that of the devil (referred to as Asmodeus- shown above right) at Rennes le Chateau. One can assume, like the soldiers in battle, Asmodeus too is being depicted as being involved in battle. In support of this is, the inscription above Asmodeus of, “by this sign you will conquer him.” The devil may indeed be ‘shouting with his mouth open,’ and although not ‘running away’ like detailed in da Vinci’s notes, the way for his defeat has been given. But, victory may not simply happen ‘by this sign’ (believed to be the cross) alone.
Ephesians 6:10-18 speaks of the importance of the Armor of God and battle. Verse 11 states, “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” Further within the chapter, the armor needed is given; belt of truth and shield of fatih to name but two. It is a spiritual struggle/battle against the “dark world” and “forces of evil”.
It would seem that although it is said ‘by this sign you will conquer him’, it isn’t by the cross solely. A full armor is needed like said above. Could it actually be ‘by the cross(this sign) and this horse of God?’ Shared within a previous article discussing the particular section, by the cross and this horse of God, in the phrase deciphered from the Grand Parchment, is a suggestion for ‘this horse of God’ to be man’s preparation for battle; as related to Ephesians (full armor) and Proverbs 21:31. (“The horse is made ready for the day of battle but victory rests with the Lord.”)
Asmodeus, the legendary guardian of Solomon’ treasure, is curiously shown at Rennes le Chateau gazing down at the black and white tiled floor of the church. Referred to, (along with Jesus), in Le Serpent Rouge, he is said to ‘observe their alignment’. The likeness of chessboard with alternating tiles would suggest a battle, since chess was invented to teach nobility about military strategy. It is a game where an opponent must master the other. King against King; each trying to defeat the other.
With this in mind, I imagine those, who by the cross and who also prepare for battle, will ultimately say, “CheckMate”, and Asmodeus may indeed ‘go running with his mouth shouting’ as described by da Vinci of some one who leaves the battleground.
Follow MW on Social Media: