Tag Archives: philosophy

Raphael’s ‘School of Athens’ and the Religious themes at the Stanza della Segnatura, a reflection on Pope Julius II library

Stanza Rafael, Musei Vaticani

Stiched panorama of the four walls in the Stanza della Segnatura, painted by Raphael

The philosophical and religious discourse that took off in Renaissance Italy is beautifully depicted by Raphael in the Stanza della Segnatura in the Vatican (Musei Vaticani).

Pope Julius II, in the early 1500’s, commissioned Raphael to paint his private apartments. Raphael painted the frescoes of four Rooms. All rooms are accessible to visitors today, they make part of the Musei Vaticani complex, which are known as the Stanze di Raffaello (Raphael Rooms).

One of these four Rooms is known as ‘The Stanza della Segnatura’, which is the very room that housed the Pope’s private library. For this Room, Raphael decided to make four frescoes (one on each wall) that depict the Renaissance newly (re)discovered Classical ideals in relation to the values of the Christian tradition. This choice of themes was meant to reflect the contents of the Pope’s library, the categories of which were : theology, philosophy, jurisprudence and poetry.

Of course the most famous fresco in this Room is none other than the ‘School of Athens‘….

school_of_athens

There is an interesting discussion on BBC Radio 4 about this painting, its relation to the other frescoes in the room and the concepts, ideas and discussions that were contemporary to the painting. I felt that this podcast gave me a bit more information on the choices made by Raphael (and Pope Julius II). The discussion is an episode of the ‘In Our Time’ program with Melvyn Bragg on BBC 4, available as a podcast for free. I am a fan of Melvyn’s podcasts… Here is the link to the ‘School of Athens’ episode:

'The School of Athens' episode

‘The School of Athens’ episode

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Ernesto Sabato

Ernesto Sabato - photo © Sophie Bassouls:Sygma:Corbis (via biblioteca ignoria)

I first heard of Ernesto Sabato on Gavdos island. I went to that earthly paradise for a ten day break some years ago and I left on a brilliant day almost two months later. There, in the community of free-campistas I dwelt in silence and in beautiful conversations that kept the same gentle rhythm of rising and passing away, as the sea, the days and the season’s imprints on nature at that dear beach that was our home. While there, we used to call that place the Epicurean Garden.

Just yesterday I found this interview Sabato gave at the ‘Unesco Courier‘ journal for the August 1990 issue. I have highlighted so many phrases in my personal copy, so I thought of sharing some here as quotes but to also include the entire interview at the bottom:

“Is Don Quixote “unreal”? If reality bears any relationship to durability, then this character born of Cervantes’ imagination is much more real than the objects that surround us, for he is immortal.”

“Art can no more progress than a dream can, and for the same reasons.”

“I must be a reactionary because I still believe in dull, mediocre democracy, the only regime which, after all, allows me to think freely and to prepare the way for a better reality.”

The Unesco Courier, cover, August 1990 issue

Ernesto Sabato’s full interview at the Unesco Courier

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Beloved, at this moment let mind, knowing, breath, form, BE INCLUDED.

in ‘Zen Flesh Zen Bones: A Collection of Zen and Pre-Zen Writings’

Zen Quote

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Nietzsche Quote

Perhaps the entire evolution of the spirit is a question of the body… In the long run, it is not a question of man at all: he is to be overcome

F. Nietzsche, The Will to Power

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