The School of Athens (Italian: Scuola di Atene) is a fresco by the Italian Renaissance artist Raphael. It was painted between 1509 and 1511 as a part of Raphael's commission to decorate the rooms now known as the Stanze di Raffaello, in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. The Stanza della Segnatura was the first of the rooms to be decorated, and The School of Athens, representing Philosophy, was probably the third painting to be finished there, after La Disputa (Theology) on the opposite wall, and the Parnassus (Literature). The picture has long been seen as "Raphael's masterpiece and the perfect embodiment of the classical spirit of the Renaissance".
The identities of some of the philosophers in the picture, such as Plato and Aristotle, are certain. Beyond that, identifications of Raphael's figures have always been hypothetical. To complicate matters, beginning from Vasari's efforts, some have received multiple identifications, not only as ancients but also as figures contemporary with Raphael. Vasari mentions portraits of the young Federico II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua, leaning over Bramante with his hands raised near the bottom right, and Raphael himself. He was writing over 40 years after the painting, and never knew Raphael, but no doubt reflects what was believed in his time. Many other popular identifications of portraits are very dubious.
Luitpold Dussler [de] counts among those who can be identified with some certainty: Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Pythagoras, Euclid, Ptolemy, Zoroaster, Raphael, Sodoma and Diogenes of Sinope. Other identifications he holds to be "more or less speculative".
- Zeno of Citium
- Boethius or Anaximander
- Alcibiades or Alexander the Great or Pericles
- Antisthenes or Xenophon
- unknown (sometimes identified as Hypatia in recent popular sources)
or Fornarina as a personification of Love (Francesco Maria della Rovere?)
- Parmenides or Nicomachus
- Socrates or Anaxagoras
- Heraclitus (Michelangelo?)
- Plato (Leonardo da Vinci?)
- Aristotle (Giuliano da Sangallo?)
- Diogenes of Sinope or Socrates
- Euclid or Archimedes (Bramante?)
- Strabo or Zoroaster? (Baldassare Castiglione?)
- Ptolemy R: Apelles (Raphael)
- Protogenes (Il Sodoma or Timoteo Viti)
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