This essay draws liberally from a prior post entitled 1510, which unfortunately neglected to mention a philosopher of great merit and even greater smallness. His Latin name is Trochilidae and I shall tell him of the correction first thing in the morning when he goes to his feeder.
["La scuola di Atene" by Raphael - File:Sanzio 01.jpg. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:La_scuola_di_Atene.jpg#/media/File:La_scuola_di_Atene.jpg]
Over this text is a fresco. Fresco is painting in wet plaster. Not freehand, that would admit too many variables even for Raphael, who did this one between 1509 and 1511. One starts with sketches and incorporates their primary lines into a cartoon. Cartoon is a drawing on stout paper, same size as projected fresco, which one goes at with a pounce wheel --bigger than tailors use on patterns but same principle-- then the image is transferred to the wall by puffing charcoal through the holes. After that, one paints real fast before the plaster dries. Tricky work. Raphael produced the above fresco entitled "School Of Athens". It was intended to decorate the Stanza della Segnatura, or Popehouse, not to be confused with Pumphouse (see below):
But the Popehouse was for Julius II and Leo X, whose careers coincided so closely it's pardonable to assume they were roomies. The fresco is in a chamber dedicated to human intellect. That means there were intellectual things in there. Leo kept a pet named Hanno. I don't know if Hanno was an indoor elephant or an outdoor one --or if it was housetrained (lack of housetraining is why I became a gardener), but suspect it was the reason Julius moved out.
The fresco was Raphael's idea of what a college should look like: philosophers of all ages lounging around on the steps of fantastic architecture, learning and teaching, fiddling with stuff like kittens do. He's got everybody on those stairs from Socrates to Sartre --even Zoroaster and himself! When I first saw a slide of this thing in college, I looked down at my hard desk, my unlaundered jeans, sensible shoes and despaired. How much easier it would be each morning to simply roll out of bed in one's sheet and wear that all day, and how'd Raphael know about Sartre?
Togas were a pre-Christian-missionary invention. You didn't have to make outfits to clothe the naked. You just let them spin into yours if they wanted. I remember college and know many of the naked didn't want to be clothed. One made friends among the naked and would not dream of insulting them with demands to cover up. But the composition has other points of interest. It includes Epicurius, Pythagorus, Xenophon, Parmenides, Heraclitus, Plato and Euclid. The central, reclining figure is Diogenes --but in Raphael's original cartoon, which now resides among the treasures of Milan, Diogenes is a talking duck in a sailor suit. They all devoted their lives to a calm inquiry into existence except Trochilidae, whose approach to philosophy was too aerobic for the Stanza della Segnatura Popehouse but secured him permanent welcome at the Pumphouse.