More on monuments
EDarr1776 at AOL.COM
Thu Nov 5 22:40:16 PST 1998
In a message dated 98-11-05 17:11:43 EST, iclupu at MAIN.NLC.GWU.EDU writes:
<< As I recall, the Supreme Court building includes stone carvings of
many of the world's great lawgivers, and I doubt if any of the
commandments are readable by visitors (assuming the text
of the commandments is actually part of the carving). >>
Mr. Lupu is correct, and this is exactly to the point. Smithsonian "Castle"
Curator James M. Goode describes the pediments of the Supreme Court in his
1974 book, *The Outdoor Sculpture of Washington, D.C.*
The pediment we are most familiar with is by Robert Aitkin, on the west
entrance to the Court, on 1st Street, called "Equal Justice Under Law."
According to Goode, the central figure is Liberty, enthroned, looking to the
future with the scales of Justice in her lap. She is flanked by two Roman
soldiers (Paganism? On the face of the Court?) who represent Order and
Authority. There are two pairs of historical people, representing Council.
Cass Gilbert, the architect of the building, stands next to lawyer Elihu Root.
On the right side are Charles Evans Hughes (Chief Justice from 1930 to 1941,
and the building was done in 1935) and the sculptor, Aitkin. Two more figures
represent Research: William Howard Taft, and John Marshall.
The pediment over the east side of the building does depict Moses, but only as
one among many. This one was sculpted by Herman A. MacNeil, and is titled
"Justice, the Guardian of Liberty." It emphasizes the contributions to
American law of Mediterranean and Eastern civilizations. Moses, holding the
"tablets of Hebraic law" is there (no, the Commandments are not visible, nor
are they written out). He is flanked by Confucius and Solon. They are
flanked by symbolic figures. A kneeling man holds a child and a fasces,
showing the means of enforcing the law. A kneeling woman with a child
symbolizes justice tempered by mercy. Two soldiers hold shields, one
representing the settlement of disputes between states, the other representing
maritime and other rights. A reclining woman ponders judgment; a reclining
man "shows the high character of the Supreme Court" (I just report this
stuff). Aesops tortoise and hare, in the corners, represent the slow but sure
course of justice.
I'll represent the government in this one, thank you very much for asking. I
can use the work.
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