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Raphael
"The school of Athens" , Rome 1508
This is one of greatest art treasures in the world.
It is a fresco 9 feet high and 27 feet wide (2.8 x 8 meters).

The Pope Julius II wanted that Raphael creates an intense intellectual stimulus in his personal library, the Stanza della Segnatura. Raphael created a group of frescos. One shows a virtual symposium at the "School of Athens" in Greece around the year 380 B.C. Here you find the pivotal axis of all Western philosophy. This virtual symposium unites the greatest thinkers from 800 B.C. until 1400 A.C.



The most prominent persons are Platon, Aristotle, Socrates, Zoroaster, Pythagoras, Ptolemy and a young lady. Raphael, Sodoma and Michelangelo are also present.



Visipix.com shows you the two versions of the "School of Athens":

1. The fresco itself in the Pontifical palace, in the Stanza della Segnatura.
Raphael Stanza

At the moment we have only small reproductions.

2. The cardboard draft in the Ambrsosiana in Milan
Before an artist painted a fresco, he made a full size draft on cardboard. It was to be held over the wall, then the outlines of the future fresco were marked the either with rub-off-paint on the back or paint-marks through little holes. The cardboard was destroyed in this process. In this case, Raphaelo or a helper must have copied the draft. Collectors paid good money for them.

The extraordinary story of the young lady,
Hypatia of Alexandria 370 - 416 A.C., one of the most admirable women in history

Story of Hypatia of Alexandria:

Hypatia was a neo-platonist and would want to discuss "eternal prima causa" with Parmenides. As a mathematician she would talk shop with Pythagoras.


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The story that she was originally with Heraclitus and Diogenes does not make sense to me. Hypatia has nothing in common with either of them. But another guy in the picture would have run to Hypatia if Raphael would let him do so.
Xenophanes, the early starter of philosophical scepticism. Well, Raphael could not guess that these matters became crucial to 20th century science, in connection with the Principia Mathematica, Goedel, Hilbert und then Karl Poppers negative verification theory etc. At the age of 30 Hypatia became professor at the University of Alexandria. She had a tremendous reputation as a scientist, doing hyperbola, parabola, astrolabium, theory of conical geometry, distillation etc. She was an eloquent public speaker.

Letters addressed to "The philosopher, Alexandria, Egypt" reached her. Of course.
Mathematics and scientific reason were considered heresy by zealous Christians who enforced the Christian Doctrines in the Roman Empire. But it was her philosophical reasoning which got her into collisions with brute political interests. Exactly like Socrates, Jesus Christ, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Itzhak Rabin and others.

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She was incredibly bright. A great philosopher and scientist. Praised also as a very brilliant public speaker plus beautiful, modest and practical. Of course, while I read about her, I fell in love.


The draft
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The fresco
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Raphael had to show the draft of the fresco to a Bishop, who asked him "Who is this beautiful lady"? The answer: "This is Hypatia of Alexandria, she had been professor of philosophy, mathematics and astronomy at the University of Alexandria and was certainly one of the best thinkers ever". "Ah that one!" said the Bishop, "but she had been a threat to Christianity. No, she cannot be on this fresco." But Raphael wanted Hypatia and took a risk. He repainted the dark skin of the Egyptian lady to a very pale white and changed the face so that it now resembled a beloved nephew of the Pope. The Bishop did not realize that he was duped or maybe did not want to confront the Pope. Our Hypatia on the fresco was saved.

The story goes that Raphael had originally placed Hypatia between Heraclitus and Diogenes. Then as an additional disguise had moved her between Parmenides and Pythagoras where she is since then.
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