Icons and Motifs
As to the various icons and motifs chosen for the Demmer/Neptune Gate, here are some explanations:
1. Neptune, Roman God of the Sea, was chosen by Dennis Buettner (Landscape Architect of the Villa Terrace Renaissance Garden) because the gates are situated on the shores of Lake Michigan.
2. The sturgeons, whitefish and shell represent the life-giving properties of water. Sturgeons and whitefish were used because they are a native to these fresh waters.
3. The “S” scrolls surrounding Neptune form a wave pattern which represent change and illusion. Scrolls represent the unfolding of life and knowledge.
4. The quatrefoils are an Italian motif dating back to the thirteenth century. They were also used by Cyril Colnik at the front gates of Villa Terrace. The varied shapes of the cusps in the quatrefoils:
• The Spade is the masculine principle of Neptune.
• The cross, in Roman culture, spells doom for the malefactor.
• The rosettes, in Graeco-Roman culture, mean desire, beauty and love eternal.
• The round or circular cusps (center quatrefoil) universally signify totality, oneness and eternity.
5. The two tridents are Neptune’s weapons of power.
6. The urns at the base of the tridents represent the Mother, life-giving powers and fertility. These urns, with the floral elements emanating from them also represent the fertility of the waters. In Roman culture, the urn was used as a voting receptacle, so the urn also represents fate.
7. The lyre shapes on the end piers represent the harmony of the universe.
8. The many leaves represent new life, new hope, and in Roman funerary culture: continuing life in the next world.
9. The vine is a symbol of Graeco-Roman Bacchus: life and fertility