Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Paganism in The Vatican? How Scandalous.

While looking through my photos of Raphael's rooms, I found some interesting connections between Catholicism and Paganism. In this first fresco, Raphael blatantly expresses the power of Catholicism over the previously idolized Pagan gods.
 You can see in the photo above how the Pagan idol has been replaced by Christ. 
The above photo(s) is the bottom fresco of The Study of Athens. Since Rome (and it's gods) pretty much made up the foundation for the coming of Christ, it seems only fitting they would somehow be incorporated into artwork. (Plus, if you're Raphael and Michelangelo, who's really going to question your work?) 
"Raphael's Room" 

4 comments:

Ian Kuehne said...

I think that it might be an oversimplification to say that the figures of the Italian Renaissance only admired pre-Christian figures insofar as they set the stage for Christ. The School of Athens, for example, celebrates pagan learning in a context more or less separate from Christianity. It portrays Pythagoras positively, even though Pythagoras created a cult with beliefs diametrically opposed to Christian dogma, including elements like reincarnation. Also, Athena and Apollo are not portrayed as allegorical, blasphemous idols, but as legitimate symbols of classical learning. I think that the Renaissance truly saw a revival of classical learning for its own sake--that is, beyond the scholastic use of Aristotelian and Platonic structures to justify theology.

Amy Clement said...

It doesn't come at that much of a surprise that pagan ideas and images are seen in Christianity. Many Christian holidays are based off of pagan ones. It's no coincidence that all saints' day is the day after Halloween and Cupid shows up on Saint Valentine's Day.

Joseph D'Amico said...

Yeah, the School of Athens is really amazing. Of course, there are many other examples of pagan images in the Vatican. In fact, I learned in Latin that Michelangelo alternates pictures of the sybils with prophets from the bible on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. You should totally look up a picture of the Sybil of Cumae, not just because we read about her in the Aeneid, but also because it's hilarious how ripped she is.

Brooke M. Hathaway said...

It's really interesting to see pagan influences in these Italian Renaissance works (the Vatican, no less), especially after reading how Dante in the Middle Ages put even "virtuous pagans" in Hell. I think it certainly shows a progression of some type of acceptance (?) in society that presented itself during the Renaissance. However, like Ian, Amy, and Joey mentioned, pagan influences could be seen even prior to the Italian Renaissance. Though I think finding paganism in the Vatican is as bold as it could get.