Justice presiding over the Virtues
The Virtues (detail)
Cardinal and Theological Virtues
Three classical cardinal virtues (Fortitude, Prudence and Temperance) are attended by five putti, three of whom depict the theological virtues of Charity, Hope, and Faith.
On the left, Raphael painted Fortitude. Armor-clad, she caresses a lion with her left hand while grasping a sapling of black oak with her right.The oak tree symbolizes strength and alludes to the Della Rovere family to which Pope Julius II belonged. A putto representing Charity harvests acorns from the oak branch.Fortitude's seated posture and the folds of her clothing are copied directly from a modello Raphael had seen of Michelangelo's Moses.
Prominently seated in the center is Prudence. On her breast is an effigy of a winged Gorgon to ward off deceit and fraud. Janus-like, her head has two faces shown in profile. Her youthful feminine face looks forward into a mirror. This is an allegory of wisdom and knowledge of the present. The backward-facing visage of the old man peers into a past for sound judgment predicated on experience. His view is enhanced by the flaming torch held by a putto depicting Hope.
Temperance sits on the right. She holds the bridle of restraint and is accompanied by a putto portraying Faith who points upward to heaven with his right hand.
The fourth cardinal virtue, Justice, isn't included in the scene. Instead, she is depicted holding scales and a sword in a tondo on the ceiling directly above the fresco. The more prominent position of Justice is explained by the emphasis Plato placed on this fourth virtue. He introduced it to ensure the other three cardinal virtues existed in harmony.
The other two frescoes found lower on the wall also portray scenes concerning the law. To the left of the window is a fresco designed by Raphael but executed by his studio. It depicts the Emperor Justinian receiving the civil code known as the Pandects of the Corpus Juris Civilis from Tribonian. To the right of the window, Pope Gregory IX (as portrayed by Julius II) receives the code of canon law known as the Decretals from Raymond of Penyafort.
Does anyone else think that the man in the background of the right panel looks like Napoleon?