Ptolemy Ptolémée


2nd Century A.D. - IIe siècle après J.C.

Iconography of Ptolemy's Portrait
Iconographie du portrait de Ptolémée

1509-1510 Raphaël

Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio 1483-1520), Detail of Ptolemy and Strabo in the School of Athens (Scuola di Atene), 1509-1510, Vaticano, Stanza della Segnatura.

Raphaël (Raffaello Sanzio 1483-1520), Détail de Ptolémée et Strabon dans l'École d'Athènes (Scuola di Atene), 1509-1510, Vaticano, Stanza della Segnatura.

Pythagoras and his disciples

Grammar, Arithmetic and Music (p. 34)

"The 'emblematic image' on the tablet held at Pythagoras's feet is the clue that the fresco is about the mathematical harmonies of the universe. Balancing the Pythagorecians around the slate at the lower left are the astrologers, symmetrically placed on the other side of the foreground. These two groups are rightly represented as conterparts, for what the Pythagoreans defined with musical consonances, the astrologers found out by studying the sky. Plato's raised finger expresses a final connection: from the science of numbers comes music; from music comes cosmic harmony; and from cosmic harmony comes the divine order of ideas." (p. 34)

30. "This may be Terpander or Nicomachus or else another musician and follower of Pythagoras, who was of the opinion that the turning of the stars and the motion of things occurred not otherwise than according to the rules of music (p. 52)."

31. "This is held to be Francesco Maria della Rovere, the duke of Urbino, the pope's nephew, aged twenty at that time. And it really appears as if he comes here through desire and longing to learn the noble studies and the most worthy arts (p. 50)."

32. Pythagoras' disciple holding an abacus "on which the numbers are depicted and the consonances of song (p. 49)".

32-35. "Next to Pythagoras come his disciples Empedocles, Epicharmus, and Archytas; one of them, completely bald, sitting at his side behind him writes on his knee (p. 50)."

33. Pythagoras [and not the Evangelist Matthew according to Vasari in the 16th c. (p. 22, 154)] "is seen sitting, surrounded by his disciples, writing his philosophy based on the harmonic proportions of music (p. 49)."

34. Wheter the marvelous old man who copies the words of Pythagoras is Empedocles, or Zeno, or Archytas of Tarentum, he communicates the urgency of the true scholar at work with utter clarity. He could also be: Iamblichus, Plotinus or Boethius (p. 155).

35. A turbaned, moustachioed figure clad in purple and bending forward with a courtly hand placed on his heart (p. 154).

36. "Federico, second duke of Mantua, who was in Rome when the painting was executed (p. 22)", presumably identified by Vasari (16th c.) as n° 24.

37. Epicurus (p. 102, 158): "this man wears a wreath of oak leaves, the emblem of Pope Julius, to whose name Raphael dedicated the work signifying the golden age of this pontiff, his benefactor (p. 50)." "Epicurus crowned in the ivy that signified participation in a drinking party buy engrossed in a book, may also be identified with a fair degree of probability, his back turned to the Pythagoreans and Socratics, and indeed to the rest of this school (p. 158)."

39. A "boy (p. 50)" or a child.

40. An old man (p. 50).


Click on each image for identifications of persons with numbers and diagrams
Cliquez sur chaque image pour une identification des personnages avec numéros et diagrammes




Pierre Perroud, Athena Raphaël, The School of Athens, Université de Genève.


Hall 1997 - Hall, Marcia B. (edit.), Giovanni Pietro Bellori, Heinrich Wölfflin, Ralph E. Lieberman, Janis Bell, Timothy Verdon, Ingrid D. Rowland and Alice Sedgwick Wohl, Raphael's School of Athens, Cambridge (U.K.), Cambridge University Press, 1997, 182 p., ill.. PAGES NUMBERS ALL REFER TO THIS BOOK.
mise à jour le 9 janvier 2001

Ptolemy Ptolémée


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