The Seal of Polytechnic University
Briefs by the Academic Senate:
Attilio Alto, Rector; Salvatore Dierna, President of the technical instituting Committee of the College of Architecture;
Bruno Maione, Dean of the College of Engineering; Vittorio Mastroviti, Administrative Director.
In the background, the seal of the Politecnico di Bari shows the octagonal plan of Castel del Monte, an extraordinary 13th-century castle set in the Apulia region. In esoteric language, the number eight is the symbol of infinity and universal authority. The monument represents the meeting point of various cultures (Byzantine, Arab, Roman, Norman) which Emperor Frederick II wanted to gather around him in a vision free from any prejudice. The Politecnico, an academy for the creation and transmission of knowledge, is inspired by this highly integrated and interdisciplinary cultural vision.
In the seal, the plan of the castle is surrounded by an eight-pointed star which represents the compass rose and embodies, together with the motto, the Polytechnic University of Bari mission of exploration and research.
At the centre of the seal a twin-bodied lion stands out, denoting a column capital of the Basilica of Saint Nicholas. Symbol of light, resurrection and victory, the lion draws together a dual reference to two elements that are contrasting only in appearance, since both are sources of life: the sun and the earth. This image epitomizes the synergetic relationship between science and society, from which the first both rises and falls.
The lion is also a symbolic reference to the two main schools of Engineering and Architecture: two joint bodies sharing the same cultural project.
An awareness of standing at a crossroads between a past littered with history and tradition and a future still to explore and build is well summarized in the line from Dante chosen as the motto of the Polytechnic University of Bari.
In the Commedia, which is full of mythical figures, the character of Ulysses is the most appropriate symbol for the values of research and intellectual curiosity carried forward by the Politecnico.
Ulysses’ famous encouragement to his men:
Consider ye the seed from which ye sprang; ye were not made to live like unto brutes, but for pursuit of virtue and of knowledge
makes him a figure that reflects moral rigidity and scientific curiosity.
Those immortal lines might have been considered a summary of the mission of the Polytechnic University of Bari. However, the evocative power of the lines that follow, where Ulysses, having convinced his men to carry on, states:
and having turned our stern unto the morning, we of the oars made wings for our mad flight
is an even more effective emblem of the spirit of adventure that is part of all scientific research, which must reconcile the careful knowledge of the navigator with the unconquerable curiosity of the explorer.