The Apotheosis of Washington

Posted on December 17th, 2012 by

All Hail, god Washington?

There are a disproportionate number of odd things in Washington D.C. Just the crisscrossing and frequently round-abouting streets can leave new visitors disorientated, but I was struck most on this trip by a piece of artwork I was already familiar with; The Apotheosis of Washington. The idea of an apotheosis is not exactly commonplace in the U.S. collective conscious, but right there in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda is George Washington, painted in the fresco, becoming a god. He is flanked by many of his new Roman peers (Mercury, Vulcan, Minerva, etc) and the whole scene leads me to wonder what in the world Constantino Brumidi (the painter) was thinking? It was undoubtedly intended as allegory, but really…what the heck?


Despite the strange symbolism emblazoned on one of our most significant Federal Buildings, I can’t recommend the Capitol tour enough. You are very tightly controlled as to what you can see, but it is awesome to be in the very halls where so much of our history has been forged. If you are in D.C., plan on a few hours to see General Washington become a god.