Raphael, Ceiling of the Stanza della Segnatura

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The Four Ceiling Tondos

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For of the symbolism in the tondi, see the discussion of each of the murals over which they preside.

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The Four Ceiling Panels

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Each of the ceiling panels corresponds to one of the murals below:

Adam and Eve -- The Disputations

The Prime Mover --  The School of Athens

Judgment of Solomon -- The Virtues

Apollo and Marsayas -- Parnassus

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The Elements

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EARTH

Fettered Giants, the offspring of Earth

The Justice of Junius Brutus who condemned his own sons to death for their part in the Tarquinian Conspiracy. He also ordered the destruction of the Tarquinian fields, whose crops thrown into the Tiber, formed a mass of new soil, the Campus Martius.

AIR

Amphitrite fleeing Neptune hides herself on the Island of Atlas.

Standing on a dolphin, Amphitrite holds a sail so that the wind may speed her journey.

FIRE

The forge of Vulcan

Mucius Scaevola placing his hand in the burning flame of the altar

WATER

Satyr pouring water on the heads of lovers a pair of lovers

The Sabine Mettius Curtius, rather than submitting to the pursuing Romans, leads his horse into the waters of the swamp which became known as the Lacus Curtius.

(Text from http://employees.oneonta.edu/farberas/arth/ARTH214/Segnatura_ceiling.html)

See also Edgar Wind ("The Four Elements in Raphael's 'Stanza della Segnatura,'" Journal of the Warburg Institute, II, 1937/38, pp.75-79

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Keystone Panel with Papal Coat of Arms

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The two crossed "Keys of Peter" represent the divinely-given papal power to bind and release events on earth.

Above the keys, the tiara symbolizes the supreme authority invested in the papacy.

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