The symbol is made up of concentric circles.
The first circle is formed by a headless ouroboros. The ouroboros is an ancient symbol, already found in Egyptian paintings. It represents the sun’s eternal return and the seasons’ cyclical nature. It predates the Classical image of Aion, the personification of time holding the astrological circle. The ouroboros occurs as a snake biting its tail in Byzantine alchemical texts, where it stands for the transmutation of matter.
The second circle is formed by an amphisbaena: a two-headed snake born from the Gorgon’s blood in Libya, according to Lucan. Nicander of Colophon claims that this mythical animal can move in opposite directions, following one of its heads. In the Congress logo it is shown as a snake with a bulging double belly, suggesting it is fertile – laden with consequences. The two heads are not facing opposite directions, but in dialogue.
The logo’s centre features a tree of life with two peacocks, symbolising resurrection.
This image, which is a free take on the ornamental enamelled tondi on the Pala d’Oro in St Mark’s Basilica, may be described as a rich allegory of the Congress, which cyclically returns despite all adversities.
The Congress takes place within a well-defined space, in a specific period of time; therefore, it constitutes a limited event in itself. However, it brings together a range of topics, methodologies, and outcomes that go in different, even opposite, yet converging directions – sometimes despite linguistic divergences – thereby illustrating the fertile flexibility of scholarly research.
Like the tree of life with its peacocks, the complex symbol is an auspicious one, serving as a kind of amulet to ensure that each person’s efforts and contribution may aim at the fruitful circulation of people, ideas, projects, and bonds of friendship.