baths and mausoleums were covered with mosaics. The four squinches were used for the four zoas (living creatures) mentioned in Ezekiel 1.5 and Apocalypse 4.6. Owing to the presence of windows in two of the tambour walls, only eight of the twelve apostles could be fitted in. The apostles are shown presenting Christ with laurel wreaths, a theme referring to the pagan-imperial aurum coronarium, which recurred in both Ravenna baptisteries in the fifth and sixth centuries. The cupola is divided radially. In the centre is a Chi-Rho sign with the hand of God against a starry background. Eight garlands of leaves lead from the eight corners of the tambour to the zenith of the cupola, thus creating eight trapezoidal fields, each of which is decorated with a scene from the New Testament. The following scenes are still recognisable today: the Samaritan woman at the well, the miracle at Cana, Christ giving the law to Peter and Paul (traditio legis), Jesus calling the fisherman Andrew, the parable of the miraculous draught (and possibly the holy women at the sepulchre).
The common element in nearly all the scenes is water depicted as a medium of salvation, but of course in widely differing ways. By depicting Jesus changing water into wine at Cana, the draughtsman created a rather superficial and pictorial association with baptismal water as such, whereas the parable of the fishing net and the calling are directly associated with the theme of conversion. The traditio legis bears the inscription dominus legem dat. Christ appoints Peter as a medium of salvation for the church by handing over the scroll with the 'law' (lex), i.e., the new Christian way of life that the baptised are obliged to embrace. The idea of the law as a new Christian way of life could also be conveyed by appropriate baptismal gifts. For example, a bronze lamp left by Valerius Severus, perhaps urban prefect of 382 and father-in-law of Melania, in his aristocratic domus on the Coelian Hill in Rome, does not depict a traditio legis, but does contain the following inscription on the mast of the ship that Peter and Paul are sailing (and which thereby symbolises the church): Dominus legem dat valerio severo eutropi vivas .31 Although Peter cannot be regarded here as the recipient ofthe scroll, he is beyond doubt the pilot ofthe church in which the baptised neophyte Valerius Severus is a passenger. The traditio legis is occasionally found on the base of gold glass cups that were very likely baptismal gifts given to affluent upper-class Romans in the fourth century and which were also buried with the dead (see below). This signalled obedience to the teaching of the Roman church on the part of members of the
31 Brenk, Die Christianisierungderspatromischen Welt, 113-21,331 (fig. 178): 'God gives Valerius Severus Eutropius the Rule of Life. May ye live.'
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