Raphael, The School of Athens: Ideas and Narratives
Tondo over the School of Athens: "Seek Knowledge of Causes"
The female form of Wisdom is seated in the clouds, in front of the traditional gold background painted to look like pieces of tile. Resting on her knee are two books: Nature, grasped in a horizontal position, and Morality in the vertical, implying that any system of morals must be founded on the basis of understanding the principles of the natural world.
The throne on which Wisdom sits is flanked by two sculptures of "Many-breated Artemis." One bust is partially obscured by the red Morality book. The other is being pushed aside by Wisdom's right leg. The scene might represent the account in the Bible (Acts 19: 19, 27, and 35)), which tells the story of the defection from the cult of Artemis, the rise of Christianity, and the work of Paul.
Overview of The School of Athens: Groups, Figures, Structure
1: Zeno of Citium 2: Epicurus 3: unknown 4: Boethius or Anaximander 5: Averroes 6: Pythagoras 7: Alcibiades or Alexander the Great or Pericles 8: Antisthenes or Xenophon 9: unknown or Fornarina as a personification of Love (Francesco Maria della Rovere?) 10: Aeschines 11: Parmenides or Nicomachus 12: Socrates or Anaxagoras 13: Heraclitus (Michelangelo?) 14: Plato (Leonardo da Vinci?) 15: Aristotle (Giuliano da Sangallo?) 16: Diogenes of Sinope or Socrates 17: Plotinus? 18: Euclid or Archimedes (Bramante?) 19: Strabo or Zoroaster? (Baldassare Castiglione?) 20: Ptolemy or Apelles (Raphael?) 21: Protogenes (Sodoma?) or Timoteo Viti
Plato and Aristotle
Narrative Expression of Philosophy in the Significant Instant
Plato and Aristotle represent two of the main realms of philosophy: metaphysics and ethics. Metaphysics, as enunciated by Greek philosophers and other thinkers from all cultures and all times, seeks to comprehend the essential nature of the universe. Ethics -- likewise a human intellectual undertaking that permeates all human communities -- looks for the guiding principles of good and evil in human conduct. The goals of metaphysics and ethics are comprised in the term wisdom: right judgment about the nature of reality and principled guidance for regulating our conduct with other people.
Click the text or image for a presentation of each work:
The perspective lines converge precisely on Plato's Timaeus
The vanishing point at infinity focuses on the timeless space of Platonic ideas
An Exemplary Group in The School of Athens
Click the text or image for a discussion of the "School of Euclid"