I need basic background info and historical info. on Raphael’s painting School of Athens. I also need to know the basic philosophical views of Plato and Aristotle and how they differed.
The School of Athens, or Scuola di Atene in Italian, is one of the most Famous Paintings by the Italian Renaissance artist Raphael. It was painted between 1510 and 1511 as a part of Raphael’s commission to decorate with frescoes the rooms now known as the Stanze di Raffaello, in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican. The Stanza della Segnatura was the first of the rooms to be decorated, and The School of Athens the second painting to be finished there, after La Disputa, on the opposite wall. The picture has long been seen as "Raphael’s masterpiece and the perfect embodiment of the classical spirit of the High Renaissance.
The title "School of Athens" is an old tour-book’s invention, which tends to obscure the painting’s immediate context and meaning. It is actually one of a group on the four walls of the Stanza (those on either side centrally interrupted by windows) that depict distinct themes of knowledge. Each theme is identified above by a separate tondo containing a majestic female figure seated in the clouds, with putti bearing the phrases: “Seek Knowledge of Causes”, “Divine Inspiration”, “Knowledge of Things Divine” (Disputa), “To Each What Is Due”. Accordingly, the figures on the walls below exemplify Philosophy, Poetry (including Music), Theology, Law. The “School” is therefore actually "Philosophy", and its overhead tondo-label, “Causarum Cognitio” tells us what kind, as it appears to echo Aristotle’s emphasis on wisdom as knowing why, hence knowing the causes, in Metaphysics Book I and Physics Book II. Indeed, Aristotle appears to be the central figure in the scene below. However all the philosophers depicted sought to understand through knowledge of first causes. Many lived before Plato and Aristotle, hardly a third were Athenians, and the architecture is Roman, not Greek."