Raphael’s “School of Athens” - Sample Essay

The school of Athens can be referred as one of the most prominent frescoes that was painted by an Italian regeneration artist known as Raphael. This person is believed to be the first artist to display knowledge of ancient depiction of Socrates. He painted the entire building when he was 27 years. He did all the painting for Pope Julius II. This complex build is believed to be decorated by Raphael between the years 1509 to 1510. The school of Athens is believed to be one of the most fascinating buildings that comprises of captivating composition. It is said that Raphael use of colourful painting and the composition of the building makes the entire building to look decorative. Additionally, the entire painting is perceived as multifaceted and attractive.

Raphael was able to emphasize on different figures and he pulled the viewer into the art work. The fact that the building is decorated with distinctive colours, the whole building is more likely to be seen as a religious figure. Through this painting, Raphael has displayed all the great philosophers and the entire mathematicians of an early Greece. It is believed that most of the Raphael’s figures are difficult to identify. However, through different work, one can be able to identify all the figures that are found in the painting. This essay will clearly identify some of the key figures in Raphael’s School of Athens.

We Will Write A Custom Essay Sample On Raphael’s “School of Athens”
For Only $13.90/page

order now

Identify key figures in Raphael’s “School of Athens”

The fact that the entire building is comprised of different figures, it is essential for one to be in a position to identify them. It is said that the entire painting shows a depiction of all the great philosophers and some of the genius mathematicians of the ancient Greece (Johnson 130). The whole painting is well decorated and is complex. This makes it to look more compelling and attractive.
It is believed that Raphael did not include any person works on the entire painting. This in advance makes it too complex for an individual to identify some of the key figures in the painting (Johnson 130). However, some of the main figures can be clearly identified. Thus, Raphael can be seen as an educated person who has broad knowledge on some of the ancient Greece mathematicians and great philosophers (Raphael and Marcia 104). The whole of this scene was carried out during traditional times. This is clearly indicated by both the architecture and the entire garments.

Some of the figures that are depicted in the entire may include astronomy, geometry, arithmetic, and solid geometry (Janson and Anthony 235). It is essential for an individual to master these figures that represent each of the subjects (Raphael and Marcia 104). This is because they can be used when holding a true philosophical debate (Joannides, Paul, and Raphael 20). It can be clearly evidenced that on the lower side of the Raphael’s School of Athens are depiction of mathematical sciences (Raphael and Marcia 104). Additionally, on the left side, there is representation of music and arithmetic accompanied with Pythagoreans (Raphael and Marcia 104). On the right side, there is geometry and astronomy. The presentation below gives the detailed description of the key figures in Raphael’s “School of Athens”.

At the Centre of the Raphael’s “School of Athens”

Through a good understanding of the school of Athens, it can be seen that at the centre of the painting, a regular pair of figures called Plato and Aristotle stands firmly pointing their figures to heaven (Raphael and Marcia 104). They tend to hold a thick folio in their left hand. The thick folio is known as Timaeus which are the only articles seen in the entire wall of fresco that tend to have a heading (Janson and Anthony 235). Each of Plato and Aristotle stares at each other conspicuously. Aristotle is believed to hold a copy of his entire ethics. Many people argue that Aristotle is using the copy of ethics to explain the earth and to describe the moral teachings (Janson and Anthony 235). Plato and Aristotle stares at each other and talks using gestures. This is believed to be the only dialogue in the whole painting in which both interlocutor’s talks and looks at each other (Janson and Anthony 235).

The complementarily of this middle pair is intensified by the figures who enclose them in two rows (Janson and Anthony 235). For instance, they are arranged in straight lines and on their left and right they tend to follow this central dialogue with fanatical (Raphael and Marcia 104). This makes the viewers to program their own attention. The pair that is located in the right sides moves backward of the painting whereas the left pair moves forward likes the central pair (Janson and Anthony 235).

In the upper side of the painting there is representation of the major philosophers. The first group in the upper side represents the Sophists who are being disqualified by one of the Socratic philosophers (Raphael and Marcia 104). Additionally, it can be clearly seen that after the Socratics have expelled the sophists, one of the Platonists is following him pointing to his finger to the sky (Raphael and Marcia 104). The Aristotle and his entire group is said to be in peace with the Plato. At the middle of the right end side, one finds the great Plotinus (Janson and Anthony 235).

To the Right of the Raphael’s “School of Athens”

In the right side of the Raphael’s “School of Athens”, he has placed figures that are completely different from the one located in the centre of the painting (Raphael and Marcia 104). The second group of figures consists of separate figures who even do notice the characteristics of one another. There are no gestures or sense of existence. All figures in this group are only aware of the existence of a figure in the same group which is made of nine figures (Raphael and Marcia 104). Five of them are crouching whereas the rest 4 are standing. The standing one is the portraits of Raphael himself and his friends whereas the five are engaging in the solution of geometrical (Joannides, Paul, and Raphael 20).

There is a representation of the teacher who is seen kneeling down. This is to make sure that everyone is accessing what he is teaching especially the four figures who are standing. There is also representation of Apelles and Protogenes and they harmonious the entire group (Raphael and Marcia 104). Apelles is known as the first printer to teach geometry. Protogenes was known as the attentive painter of the nature. Therefore, Apelles represented Raphael. This group consisted of Ptolemy and Strabo. The right side consists of Euclid and his entire group (Raphael and Marcia 104).

To the left of the Raphael’s “School of Athens”

Near the foreground of the left side, there is depiction of the last group that consisted of the Pythagoras. This group was also similar as the right side figures as they had no contact with outside figures. It seems to be only concerned by those figures that are in their group. It is grouped into two subdivisions (Hall 34). It consisted of the Pythagoreans and musicians who display the Pythagoras (Raphael and Marcia 104). He also represented the most beautiful lady whom they called her Hypatia of Alexandria (Hall 34). She was placed between Heraclitus and Diogenes (Raphael and Marcia 104). She was a genius in mathematics.


From the above point of view, it is clearly evidenced that the Raphael’s “School of Athens” consisted of figures with different characteristics. Raphael can be seen as the first artist to depict his knowledge of early Socrates. This is because he displayed every figure in his own characteristics. The complex painting is believed to be decorated in such a fascinating way and this makes it to appear more attractive. Some of the figures that were depicted in the entire painting may include mathematicians and great philosophers.

At the centre of the painting, a regular pair of figures known as Plato and Aristotle can be seen standing firmly while pointing their figures to heaven. They tend to hold a thick folio in their left hand. The thick folio is known as Timaeus which are the only articles seen in the entire wall of fresco that tend to have a heading. Each of Plato and Aristotle stares at each other clearly. This is the only group of figures that talks to each other and can interact even with other figures belonging to other groups. In the right side of Raphael’s school of Athens include figures with different features from the centre. This is because they can only interact with figures that are found in the same group. Additionally, they cannot converse with outside figures. In this group, the teacher can be seen kneeling in order to allow the four figures who are standing to see the description of mathematics.


  • Hall, Marcia B. Raphael’s “school of Athens”. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996. Print.
  • Janson, H W, and Anthony F. Janson. History of Art: The Western Tradition. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Prentice-Hall, 2003.
  • Joannides, Paul, and Raphael. The Drawings of Raphael: With a Complete Catalogue. Oxford: Phaidon, 1983. Print.
  • Johnson, David M. Socrates and Athens. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Print.


Get your custom essay sample



Hi there, would you like to get such a paper? How about receiving a customized one?

Check it out