Sull'iconografia della Porte Miègeville a Toulouse

Author: Paolo Piva

The Iconography of Miègeville Portal in Toulouse

The paper aims to propose an acceptable interpretation of the sculpted south portal at Saint-Sernin in Toulouse. Notably, the interest is focused on the relief below the figure of the apostle James, representing an old man laying his hands on the heads of two women as they ride and caress two lions. The different conjectures suggested so far are not decisive and they have consequently hindered an overall interpretation of the portal, even if its ecclesiological meaning has always been evident.
The article discusses the two more plausible interpretations of the scene: one suggested by the Cazes (in 2008), who identify the old man as Montano between his two pupils Maxima and Prisca; and the second one, advanced here for the first time, connected to a biblical subject: Lot and his daughters. Even these two suggestions have a fundamental problem: the lack of a logical connection with James, who should necessarily stand above and defeat a negative character symmetrical to Simon Mago, represented on the opposite side of the portal and overcome by the apostle Peter. Thus, the author reaches the only acceptable identification: the Magician Ermogene during an act of exorcism. This interpretation is based on an apocryphal of the 6th-7th century, not yet considered for this purpose: the Memorie apostoliche by the Pseudo-Abdia.