THE SCHOOL OF ATHENS
The School of Athens is considered as Raphael's masterpiece, and the perfect embodiment of the classical spirit of the Renaissance. The 16th century fresco decorates one of the rooms known as the Stanze di Raffaello, in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. It depicts philosophy, theology and law as fundamental branches of knowledge and education. Hence, every great ancient Greek philosopher can be found in the painting, but Plato and Aristotle appear to be the central figures in the scene. Both figures clutch the latest bound copies of their books in their left hands, while gesturing with their right. Plato holds Timaeus, Aristotle his Nicomachean Ethics. Plato argues a sense of timelessness, whilst Aristotle looks into the physicality of life and the present realm. There are two sculptures in the background. The one on the left is the god Apollo, god of light, archery and music, holding a lyre. The sculpture on the right is Athena, goddess of wisdom, in her Roman guise as Minerva. The main arch, above the characters, shows a meander or Greek fret, an architectural design using continuous lines that repeat in a series of rectangular bends, which originated on pottery of the Greek Geometric period and then become widely used in ancient Greek architectural friezes.