As described in the original statutes of 1780, the principal figure in the
Academy’s seal is Minerva. Like her Greek counterpart Athena, Minerva was the goddess of
wisdom, science and trade, and the arts. Her temple on the Aventine Hill was a meeting place
for skilled craftsman, writers, and actors. She is also depicted as a warrior, a symbol appropriate
for an organization created in the midst of the American Revolution.
Around Minerva are representations of the new country—on her right, a field of Indian corn,
a stand of oaks, and the outline of a town; at her feet, a hoe, a plow, and a sickle;
on her left a quadrant and a telescope, a ship heading for shore, and the sun completely risen
above the cloud. Over the whole is the motto SUB LIBERTATE FLORENT, which suggests that
arts and sciences flourish best in free states.