The Rotunda’s obvious derivation from the Pantheon in Rome tends to obscure the fact that there are many more differences than similarities between the two. That Jefferson substituted a library for a temple to the gods (pan-theon) is widely known, though it hardly mattered to the University’s earliest detractors: its image alone was enough to get it indicted on charges of paganism. Certainly the Rotunda, visually dominating the composition of the Lawn, was flung as a challenge to those institutions of learning that were held under church control. Eviscerated of its program and shrunk to one-half the diameter (thus one-fourth the volume), classical Rome was a "readymade" to be adapted for American democracy. Whereas the emperor Hadrian consolidated religious and secular power by combining the functions of the temple and the tribunal court in the Pantheon, the Rotunda acted to cleave the enervating effect all authoritarian models - church or state - had on education (and therefore liberty).  Thus Jefferson had no use for the Pantheon’s spatial bombasticism, nor the “mystery” of its shadowy niches pierced by the oculus’ “transcendental” rays. The Rotunda was summarily partitioned into three levels and its cylindrical base punctured all around with windows to “enlighten” the repository of knowledge as well as to emanate its discourse of values. The windows’ rhetorical significance justified their placement even on the exterior of the chimney stack, while the bookcases were arranged radially around the circumference of the dome room. The symbolism of juxtaposing the columns in front of the bookcases hardly needs explanation. Pulled away from the load-bearing walls, however, the columns no longer had anything to support – knowledge approached pure value, gesturing up to the immaterial void above rather than the shell in which it was contained; a shell whose very surface was to be effaced, and onto which infinity was to be projected. Jefferson’s intention was to outfit the dome with the latest technological devices, transforming it into a planetarium. Below, the "clarity" which bleached the interior walls and stripped it of all but the most basic ornament played against their curvilinear sensuality to startling effect. A formalism absent from the pragmatic interiors of the Pavilions found its way into the ovaloid rooms of the Rotunda. These rooms, harmonizing the interior space with the geometry of the circle, establishes between the Rotunda and the articulated heaviness of the Pantheon walls a conceptual distance that cannot be stressed enough. In spirit the Rotunda’s lower floors have a much closer affinity with Palladio’s proportional harmony, while the Désert de Retz Column House of Jean-Nicolas Le Rouge, which has also been cited as a precedent, is entirely Serlian in its genealogy.