The Fire in the Borgo, fresco by Raphael

Giorgio Vasari, Lives of the Artists, "Raphael": "One of the scenes [in the Borgia Rooms in the Vatican Palace] showed the burning of the Borgo Vecchio at Rome, when the fire was finally extinguished by the benediction of St. Leo IV, given from the loggia of the Vatican. Various perils are represented in this work. In one part we see a number of women whose hair and clothes are blown about by the terrible fury of the wind as carrying vessels full of water on their heads and in their hands they hurry to put out the fire. There are others bewildered and blinded by the smoke as they try to throw water on the flames. On the other side is depicted an infirm old man, distraught by his weakness and the flames of the fire, being carried (as Vergil describes Anchises being carried by Aeneas) by a young man whose face expresses his strength and courage and whose body shows the strain of carrying the figure slumped on his back. He is followed by a dishevelled, bare-footed old woman fleeing from the fire, and going before them is a naked child...."


January 24, 2010 2:31 PM

John Paul Adams, CSUN

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