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Friday, April 15, 2005

The Apotheosis of Washington

Left: George Washington portrayed laying cornerstone to our nation's capitol in Masonic garb, suggesting he too (like Hiram Abiff) was a master builder. Right: Statue of George Washington modeled after the Greek god Zeus originally placed in the Rotunda of the Capitol in 1841 but was later moved to the American History Museum.

Apotheosis - Exaltation to divine rank or stature; deification.
[Late Latin apothesis, from Greek, from apotheoun, to deify : apo-, change; see apo- + theos, god; see dhs- in Indo-European Roots.]
The use of the word in the title of the piece suggests an insinuation derived from the etymology of the word apotheosis... suggesting 'change INTO god'.

Washington DC can fairly be described as the world's foremost "Masonic City." Its centre was laid out according to a plan drawn up by the French Freemason Pierre L'Enfant. Washington had requested that he should be buried in the grounds of his estate at Mount Vernon and it was difficult to overrule his wishes. As compensation, a heroic statue of Washington as Zeus was placed in the Capitol pointing up to George Washington's ascension into the waiting heavens depicted in the fresco of Constantino Brumidi which was above it. Congress made seven attempts to honor George Washington; this was Try Number 4. In 1832, Greenough was commissioned to design a statue of General Washington standing, but chose to model his statue on a statue of the Greek God Zeus. There may have been some method in his madness.

Constantino Brumidi, Fresco in Rotunda of Capitol, 1865. Suspended 180 feet above the Rotunda floor, the fresco covers an area of 4,664 square feet. The figures, up to 15 feet tall, were painted to be intelligible from close up as well as from 180 feet below.

Brumidi depicted George Washington rising to the heavens in glory, flanked by female figures representing Liberty and Victory/Fame. A rainbow arches at his feet, and thirteen maidens symbolizing the original states flank the three central figures. The word "apotheosis" in the title means literally the raising of a person to the rank of a god.

Artist unknown, Reverse painting on glass. George Washington is seen ascending into heaven upon his death.

Indeed, there hasn't been much press given to the Masons in this country, perhaps purposely, yet I came to find out that most of our founding fathers were Masons. The founders of our country! I also found out George Washington was a Mason, which gives more meaning to the vision I had in chapter 5. And, though it may have been prompted by the close proximity to his birthday, and the piece written about him being addressed by an angel from heaven, as "Son of the Republic" and foretold the future of this country, which I was reflecting on, it was also about the time I began working on this symbol! (While it's interesting that the only National Masonic Monument, the George Washington Masonic National Memorial, in Alexandria, Virginia, is dedicated to him.) Hiram Abiff, considered the greatest builder of the ancient world and central figure in Masonic lore—their greatest martyr. Master builder, master Mason, and adept in the art of geometry, he was commissioned to build King Solomon's temple 1 Kings 7:13-51 and, was grand master of the Dionysian Architects! Another exclusive tie! And, when George Washington is portrayed laying the cornerstone to our nation's capitol in Masonic garb, it suggests he too was a master builder.

Reconstruction of the chryselephantine statue of Zeus at the temple of Olympia.

The statue was made by Pheidias around 432 BC and had height about 12 meters (seven times larger than normal).The Statue of Zeus at Olympia in the Peloponnesus was a magnificent example of collossal chryselephantine sculpture. It was made of marble and decorated with ivory and beaten gold. The flesh parts were of ivory and marble layered on a wood or stone core, the drapery and other ornaments of gold adorned with precious stones. The statue of Zeus was made by Phidias, the most famous sculptor of antiquity, who also made the cryselphantine statue of Athena which crowned the Acropolis. The Statue of Zeus was completed in 457 B.C. and placed in the great temple in the sacred grove in Olympia. The Emperor Theodorus I removed it to Constantinople where it was destroyed in a fire in 475 A.D. The statue of Zeus was dedicated to the planet Jupiter.

The most important Greek city in North Africa, Cyrene was founded in the 7th century BC by a party of immigrants who had fled the drought-inflicted island of Thera in the Aegean Sea. Built on a series of levels, the spectacular ruins of Cyrene include the Sanctuary and Temple of Apollo, the Acropolis, the Agora, the Forum, the Stoa of Hermes and Heracles, the House of Jason Magnus, the Nine Muses and the Temple of Zeus.

In the war that followed, the Titans fought on the side of Cronus, but Zeus and the other gods were successful, and the Titans were consigned to the abyss of Tartarus. Zeus henceforth ruled over the sky, and his brothers Poseidon and Hades were given power over the sea and the underworld, respectively. The earth was to be ruled in common by all three. Beginning with the writings of the Greek poet Homer, Zeus is pictured in two very different ways. He is represented as the god of justice and mercy, the protector of the weak, and the punisher of the wicked.
Questions: Were the images of Washington and their connections with the Masons and Zeus suggest a subtle portrayal and subsequent attempt to cover up secret knowledge? If so by whom? And of what knowledge?
(More below...)


Washington as Zeus

Zeus Statue


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