people in the school of athens
The School of Athens is one of a group of four main frescoes on the walls of the Stanza (those on either side centrally interrupted by windows) that depict distinct branches of knowledge. Each theme is identified above by a separate tondo containing a majestic female figure seated in the clouds, with putti bearing the phrases: “Seek Knowledge of Causes,” “Divine Inspiration,” “Knowledge of Things Divine” (Disputa), “To Each What Is Due.” Accordingly, the figures on the walls below exemplify Philosophy, Poetry (including Music), Theology, and Law.  The traditional title is not Raphael’s. The subject of the “School” is actually “Philosophy,” or at least ancient Greek philosophy, and its overhead tondo-label, “Causarum Cognitio”, tells us what kind, as it appears to echo Aristotle’s emphasis on wisdom as knowing why, hence knowing the causes, in Metaphysics Book I and Physics Book II. Indeed, Plato and Aristotle appear to be the central figures in the scene. However, all the philosophers depicted sought knowledge of first causes. Many lived before Plato and Aristotle, and hardly a third were Athenians. The architecture contains Roman elements, but the general semi-circular setting having Plato and Aristotle at its centre might be alluding to Pythagoras’ circumpunct.
An interpretation of the fresco relating to hidden symmetries of the figures and the star constructed by Bramante was given by Guerino Mazzola and collaborators.  The main basis are two mirrored triangles on the drawing from Bramante (Euclid), which correspond to the feet positions of certain figures. 
I begin this course with one of my very favorite works of art, a painting called “The School of Athens.”
THE SECOND POINT is that mathematics and geometry (and indeed natural philosophy) were associated with abstract reasoning, not with technical skills. Mathematics, geometry and astronomy were part of the traditional Seven Liberal Arts, a tradition going back to the ancient Romans. The Seven Liberal Arts were composed of the three literary arts (also known as the trivium) and the four mathematical arts (also known as the quadrivium). The subjects of the trivium were grammar, logic and rhetoric; the subjects of the quadrivium were mathematics, geometry, astronomy and music. The Seven Liberal Arts were the foundation of education, and a prerequisite for study in universities, all the way through the medieval and early modern periods. Most of the people we will study in this course were trained in the liberal arts before they turned to more specialized subjects.
But just what does this famous painting mean? Let’s look at what the iconic The School of Athens meant for Raphael as an artist and how it’s become such a symbol of the Renaissance. At the time, a commission by the pope was the apex of any artist’s career. For Raphael, it was validation of an already burgeoning career.
Long thought to be a portrait of Michelangelo himself, the brooding nature would have matched the artist’s character. In the realm of philosophers, he is Heraclitus, a self-taught pioneer of wisdom. He was a melancholy character and did not enjoy the company of others, making him one of the few isolated characters in the fresco.
In 2nd century AD continuation
Zoroaster (c.628 – c.551 BC) but more probably Strabo, a Greek geographer, probably the portrait of Castiglione. Strabo is holding a celestial globe, almost spinning at the tip of his right hand’s fingers. To Renaissance humanists, Strabo was considered as a philosopher who insisted to consider the Earth linked with the celestial universe. Translation of his Geography in Latin was commissioned by Pope Nicholas V in the 1450s. A manuscript edition was owned by Julius II. Strabo was often linked with Ptolemy, as a pair, by Renaissance humanists. Some guess that it is the portrait of Pietro Bembo (1470вЂ“1547), an Italian humanist and a cardinal.
Unlike some of his latter frescoes, The Stanza della Segnatura (1508-11) was decorated almost entirely by Raphael himself.
In the center of the artwork, Plato and Aristotle are discussing the respective merits of Idealism vs. Realism. Plato holds his book, Timaeus, one of the few works by Plato that had been recovered by the Renaissance, while explaining how the universe was created by the demiurge from perfect mathematical models, forms and the regular geometric solids. With his right hand Plato gestures upwards, indicating that the eternal forms, such as the ideals of Beauty, Goodness and Truth, are not in or of this world, but beyond, in a timeless realm of pure Ideas.