MOUNT PARNASSUS By Raphael
This is just one of the four frescos Raphael painted on each of the interior walls of the Stanza della Segnatura in the Vatican Palace. It was the third fresco that Raphael labored on between 1510 and 1511 A.D. for the art patron Pope Julius II. The other three works include The Disputa, The Cardinal Virtues, and The School of Athens, which is arguably his most famous work (Joost-Gaugier 2002). Raphael chose Mount Parnassus as the setting for his painting, perhaps because Delphi resided upon its slopes. Delphi is the location of the sacred shrine of the God Apollo, who ruled over music, poetry, and other fine arts. Notice how Apollo is also the focal point of this painting. He is sitting under a laurel tree playing a lira da braccio, while surrounded by the nine Muses and the various renown poets. The lira da braccio is characteristic of the Renassance period and did not exist in antiquity. Similarly, the poets vary from pre-classical antiquity to the modernity of Raphael’s time. They range from Homer, Alcaeus, Sappho, Anacreon, Virgil, Horace, and Ovid to Dante, Boccaccio, Ariosto, and Petrarch. These two aspects of the fresco symbolize the timelessness of poetic art (Kren & Marx).
This picture show the detail of Homer amongst the other poets in Raphael’s painting. He is flanked by Dante and Virgil on his left and right respectively (Kren & Marx ). Homer is singing in the presence of his potential ‘ideal family’. To his right, a young man attentively listens to Homer, taking notes, and perhaps transcribing his oral poetry into written text.
Joost-Gaugier, Christiane L. (2002) Raphael’s Stanza della Segnatura. (Online), 4/1/05.
Kren, Emil & Marx, Daniel. RAFFAELLO Sanzio. (Online), 4/1/05.