Minerva


Minerva
   Minerva (Pallas) is the goddess of wisdom and daughter of Jupiter and Metis. She was born from her father's head an adult dressed as a warrior with helmet, shield, and breastplate. On her shield is the head of Medusa as she was the one who helped Perseus slay this snake-headed monster. Minerva values her chastity and avoids succumbing to passion. She is shown in this light in Andrea Mantegna's Expulsion of the Vices from the Garden of Virtue (1497; Paris, Louvre), meant as part of the decorations of Isabella d'Este's studiolo, where she is the one ridding the garden of sin. In Sandro Botticelli's Pallas and the Centaur (c. 1482; Florence, Uffizi), she grabs the creature by the hair to tame his lustful nature. She was challenged to a weaving contest by Arachne. Having won, she transformed her conceited contender into a spider, the subject of Diego Velazquez' Fable of Arachne (1656; Madrid, Prado). Minerva is also included in Lucas Cranach the Elder's Judgment of Paris (1530; Karlsruhe, Staatliche Kunsthalle) where she is involved in a beauty contest with Juno and Venus. In Pietro da Cortona's Glorification of the Reign of Pope Urban VIII (1633-1639; Rome, Palazzo Barberini), she destroys Insolence and Pride, a way to denote the pope's fight against the heretic enemies of the Church. Lastly, Minerva is also featured in Raphael's School of Athens in the Stanza della Segnatura, Vatican (1510-1511) as the goddess of wisdom who inspires the philosophers from antiquity.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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