Illus: Raphael, School of Athens, c.1510 Stanza della Segnatura, Vatican Palace
A historical composite spanning approximately eighteen centuries – from Heraclitus (active sixth century BCE) to Averroes (active twelfth century CE).
Also there are Raphael’s contemporaries – other artists who serve as models for the philosophers.
the two central figures on the top step are Plato (427-347 BCE)
( depicted in the likeness of Leonardo da Vinci ) and Aristotle (384-322 BCE);
just below Aristotle and sprawled on the steps in a light blue toga is Diogenes (412-323 BCE). The quartet of standing characters on the bottom right are; Ptolemy; Zoroaster (fifth century BCE) (each holding a globe); Sodoma; and second from the right is the artist himself, Raphael.
Just to their left and hunched with a compass in hand is Euclid (c. 325-260 BCE) (model thought to be the architect Bramante) demonstrating geometric proofs to his students.
Near the front centre is the pensive, dark, brooding figure of Heraclitus, resting an elbow on a chest (model Michelangelo – 1475-1564).
Just to his left with scroll in hand is Parmenides, to the left of Parmenides, scribbling on a drawing board, is Pythagoras (c. 560-480 BCE) and looking over his shoulder, the only Muslim to be depicted in Raphael’s painting, the Arabic scholar Averroes.
In the lower left are Epicurus and Xeno (‘the Skeptic’).
Finally, one trio on the top step in the upper left comprises Alexander The Great, Xenophon and just below the colossal statue of Athena is the likeness of Socrates (c. 479-399 BCE).