Where Is Epicurus In The "School of Athens"?

  • Admin Edit 080620 - It appears that some of the linked photos in the post below have disappeared over time. I will try to relink them, but in the meantime, ultimately what this post is about is the question of the proper identification of Epicurus in "the School of Athens," with Elli questioning the identification of Epicurus as the chubby wreathed figurein this page at wikipedia.

    The True Depiction of Epicurus In "The School of Athens"
    Elli Pensa     (as of 080620 the original post is still available on Facebook at this link:  

    February 23 at 9:20am

    The famous fresco in the Vatican.

    Issue: "How we find in Raphael’s fresco entitled, "The School of Athens“, the familiar figure of our teacher and philosopher Epicurus".

    In Epicuru's epistle to Herodotus we read the following passage : "And besides we must keep all our investigations in accord with our sensations, and in particular with the immediate apprehensions whether of the mind or of any one of the instruments of judgment, and likewise in accord with the feelings existing in us, in order that we may have indications whereby we may judge both the problem of sense perception and the unseen”. i.e. according to this passage, for finding the figure of Epicurus in the famous fresco by Raphael, first of all we have to use our sensation that is called VISION.

    Bearing in mind our known bust of Epicurus, which existed in Raphael’s era and maybe he would seen it somewhere, we SEE that Raphael has paint the face of Epicurus identical (like some other philosophers). And yet this (obvious or even the non obvious) is confirmed by the criterion, in accord with our feeling existing in us, this friendly group next to Epicurus, we see that has been painted "embraced". Raphael could not paint this friendly company otherwise, as the main feature and immortal good in the Garden was, is and will be the friendship.

    E.S 78. The noble man is chiefly concerned with wisdom and friendship; of these, the former is a mortal good, the latter an immortal one.

    From various speculations is known that Raphael, Botticelli and many other painters of the Renaissance, had studied the Epicurean Lucretius and his famous book "For the Nature of Things". Speculations "about who is who" in the fresco "School of Athens" came from the Vatican and the popes, and not by the painter himself. And these speculations as opinions are reproduced for centuries by various writers and art critics. But let everyone making his speculations, and holding their views and opinions ... Because we, the Epicureans, we have the criteria to find the truth: We use the tool and the method that is called "Epicurean Canon".

    As mentioned above the title "The School of Athens" was not given by Raphael himself, and the theme of the mural is actually "Philosophy," or "the ancient Greek philosophy" since over the mural, the painter Raphael scored two words «Causarum Cognitio» this means « knowing the causes», a philosophical conclusion from the study of Aristotle's works, “Metaphysics Book I” and “Physics Book II".

    Indeed, Plato and Aristotle appear to be the central figures in the scene. However, all the philosophers sought knowledge of first causes. Many of them had lived before Plato and Aristotle, and hardly a third were Athenians. It is assumed that every philosopher is on the picture, however the recognition of all is impossible, for two reasons : firstly because Raphael has not left any description of the persons that he designed, and second because Raphael has designed some of the philosophers based on his imagination. The painter Raphael has combined his imagination with his knowledge and created his own iconography system for painting them. Although Raphael had read something for them, but he had not seen any picture for some of them. For example, Socrates is immediately recognizable in the mural center because we know today, like Raphael then, a pattern of his type, how he looked from busts or statues, while the person that is presumed to be Epicurus is far removed from the standard type as encountered in his busts. The conjecture for Epicurus states that is a child "with a smirk", which is crowned with vine leaves. The same conjecture states that Raphael was inspired by the librarian and Catholic Cardinal of the Vatican Tommaso Inghirami who was known by the nickname "Faedra".

    According to the famous bust of Epicurus (which is very likely known to Raphael) seems Epicurus clearly to be the person with the yellow chiton, who is standing among an embraced friendly company consisting of five (5) persons (women and men) from left and are distinguished next to the raised right hand of Plato.

    And even though the speculations be, in this fresco that Plato is holding "Timaeus" and showing his hand up to the heavens (and his fantastic world of ideas) and Aristotle holding his "Ethics" showing his hand down to the earth (and the real world) …

    …meanwhile a young friend of Epicurus, maybe Colotes, looking at his teacher, gestures his hand showing to these two, and asked:

    - What do they say Teacher ?

    And another hand, from the friendly company of Epicurus responded:

    - They disagree in many issues, but it’s better to not give so much attention to their disagreement. Because the more we are here and we discuss our epicurean issues, so much more they will make their known logical fallacies.


    Cassius Amicus Elli I agree totally with the characterization of the painting, but on one point I am not sure. Would Raphael have had access to the bust of Epicurus? I think I have read that these were all uncovered in Herculaneum so that prior to the 1700's the face would have been "lost" for many centuries. And that would explain why we have the false etching of Epicurus floating around in the Thomas Stanley Encyclopaedia in the 1600's showing him largely bald (below). I wonder if anyone can confirm that all these busts came from Herculaneum:

    Like · Reply · 2 · February 23 at 9:52am · Edited

    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa <<Bust of Epicurus in Napoli

    The portrait of Epicurus can be traced back to a prototype from the first half of the third century BC. He displays the features of a man with a mature face, with short hair worked into flaming locks that are combed forward from the top of his head with a large forehead furrowed by three parallel horizontal wrinkles, moustache, thick beard and an aquiline nose. He has a penetrating gaze which emerges from his slightly sunken eyes. The bust has drapery which falls over his left shoulder. The inscription on the base bears the name of the philosopher Epikouros: among the various known copies, only one kept in the Capitoline Museums at Rome has the same features and allows the portrait to be identified. The small bust was found in a room with shelving, together with three others depicting Hemarchus, Zeno and Demosthenes: it has been argued, with some justification given the presence of rolls of papyrus, that the portraits were originally used to indicate different sectors of the library according to the works contained within them. The presence of another portrait of Epicurus in Villa dei Papiri at Herculaneum, found in the tablinum, is not particularly surprising: indeed, he was the founder of the current of thought which inspired the writings of Philodemus of Gadara. The latter writer’s works were discovered in the library and were undoubtedly adhered to by the owner of the house Lucius Calpurnius Piso; Philodemus’ name is engraved on the silver cup with skeletons found in Pompeii, demonstrating the widespread presence of the image of the philosopher in Roman times.>>

    <<Capitoline Museums, Italian Musei Capitolini, complex of art galleries on the Capitoline Hill in Rome. The collection was initially founded in 1471 by Pope Sixtus IV, who donated statuary recovered from ancient ruins. It was augmented by gifts from later popes and, after 1870, by acquisitions from archaeological sites on city property. The museum, opened to the public in 1734, occupies portions of the palaces that frame the Piazza del Campidoglio, a historic square designed by Michelangelo in the 16th century. (The plans were not fully realized until after his death.) The collection is housed mainly in the Palazzo Nuovo and the Palazzo dei Conservatori, which face one another across the square. It features such well-known Roman works as the bronze she-wolf suckling Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome; the Capitoline Venus; and the Dying Gaul>>
    Like · Reply · 1 · February 23 at 9:56am

    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa Epicurus bust was not only in Herculaneum, but was in the Capitoline that Pope Sixtus IV has a collection from 1471. <<The inscription on the base bears the name of the philosopher Epikouros: among the various known copies, only one kept in the Capitoline Museums at Rome has the same features and allows the portrait (of Herculaneum) to be identified.====> <<Capitoline Museums, Italian Musei Capitolini, complex of art galleries on the Capitoline Hill in Rome. The collection was initially founded in 1471 by Pope Sixtus IV, who donated statuary recovered from ancient ruins. It was augmented by gifts from later popes and, after 1870, by acquisitions from archaeological sites on city property. The museum, opened to the public in 1734, occupies portions of the palaces that frame the Piazza del Campidoglio, a historic square designed by Michelangelo in the 16th century>>.
    Like · Reply · 1 · February 23 at 10:05am · Edited

    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa Because, as described in the Naples museum, where there are all the famous findings from Ercolano, they have identified the bust of Epicurus with another from Capitoline Museum. And as I mentioned above the Capitoline Museum opened its doors to the mob after 1734. What a coincidence and a "divine miracle", this time we found the bust of Epicurus next to Metrodorus ??!!
    Like · Reply · 1 · February 23 at 10:32am · Edited

    Jason Baker

    Jason Baker It's a shame those Popes didn't document their acquisitions according to modern museum practice! It would have been nice to know where the bust came from, whether there were any other finds associated with it and who discovered it on what date.
    Like · Reply · 1 · February 23 at 10:12am

    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa I have the impression that the painter Raphael was" flying" inside the Vatican like "a free butterfly" than that philosopher Gassendi. Please give me your speculation : who would had the full access inside the Vatican with the popes ?? The painter who painted the walls in Vatican or the philosopher Gassendi ?
    Like · Reply · 1 · February 23 at 10:24am

    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus Does this text clearly mean that a bust of Epicurus inscribed with his name stayed within the Vatican all those years, or was it the "collection" that was there, leaving the possibility that the Epicurus bust was added only later, after the excavations (?) I seem to remember something about that somewhere but I don't have access to my book on "The Sculpted Word" where I think I read that.... (not sure!!)
    Like · Reply · 2 · February 23 at 10:51am

    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus Here is an interesting discussion of the history of the bust at the British Museum - http://www.britishmuseum.org/.../collection_object...safe_image.php?d=AQBswC96wpsaJYM8&w=90&h=90&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.britishmuseum.org%2Fcollectionimages%2FAN00396%2FAN00396706_001_l.jpg&cfs=1&upscale=1&sx=0&sy=172&sw=750&sh=750&_nc_hash=AQATTbHHS3HjH-46


    Like · Reply · Remove Preview · 1 · February 23 at 10:55am

    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa Note : They had in Rome all the statues of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle et al. to be painted by Raphael in his fresco. But "unfortunately" they had not in Rome all those busts of Epicurus who - what a coincidence - they have been found ALL in the same period. Question : The vatican sayings by Epicurus and the epicureans are known and preserved in a 14th century manuscript from the Vatican Library. But they had not the busts of Epicurus ?? Give me a break , I don’t buy it. Raphael has seen the bust and the face of Epicurus and made him exactly the same in his fresco "the school of Athens.

    Unlike · Reply · 2 · February 23 at 12:13pm

    Jason Baker

    Jason Baker The first paragraph in the above pasted image does smack of a bit of prevarication, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if there wasn't a publicly known bust of Epicurus until the 18th-19thC. Rafael likely would have drawn upon his own expertise and made his own, obvious conclusions *given his access to non-public areas. It's a pretty fantasy in any case.

    *edited for clarity
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · February 23 at 6:23pm · Edited

    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus Very interesting clip thanks Elli!
    Like · Reply · February 23 at 5:50pm

    Cassius Amicus

    Write a reply...

    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa Epicuru's position in the fresco by Raphael is next to Plato and Aristotle and not as a silly boy with a smirk! Our senses are not false and the Canon is the Epicurus gift as an infallible tool !! LIKE.png(y)
    Unlike · Reply · 2 · February 23 at 12:21pm · Edited

    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa Jason my friend, with the usage of the Canon our senses are first and then all the other speculations of a digging in a church in Rome OR of a villa in Rome which was closed and suddenly it was opened and they found an Epicurus bust.

    In the fresco has the figure with the yellow chiton the same face with the bust of Epicurus ? Look the details of the face how identical are with all the busts of Epicurus that were discovered - what a coincidence - all in the same period when the museum in Capitolium was opened to the mob !!!

    In the fresco let's have a look at that silly boy with a smirk....here is not the imagination of Raphael, here is the speculation of Popes. They had had hide an Epicurus bust or a real portrait of him in the Vatican with the epicurean sayings. Raphael found all the issues of the Epicurean Philosophy and he had read Lucretius. And even Raphael did not see the figure of Epicurus inside the Vatican... he was a free person to have and a relationship with someone that had a bust of Epicurus.

    <<It is remarkable, however, says Mr. Combe, that notwithstanding the great number of portraits which the ancients possessed of Epicurus, it was not until nearly the middle of the last century that we were made acquainted with his real portrait>>.

    Raphael had seen the face of Epicurus somewhere and he painted exactly the same with all the details. Our senses are not false ! And if their speculations are correct, why my speculation of this company that is painted is the only company in the fresco that is embraced and has friendly feelings ? Is the friendship inside the Garden something very important or not ? Why my speculation could not be correct and all the other speculations are ?

    Because they say, we have not read anywhere that in the age of Raphael we found an Epicurus bust.

    Well I do not buy it. Epicurus busts were exist everywhere, but they were hidden and when the people realized that it was the proper age they suddenly all they appeared in a digging or in a villa.

    I take for granted that the discoveries that were by chance is only in Ercolano. In Rome the last philosophical schools were the Epicurean and the Stoic. And then came the popes....The stoic popes of course !
    Unlike · Reply · 2 · February 23 at 1:56pm · Edited

    Jason Baker

    Jason Baker I am happy with your thesis, Elli Pensa, it pleases me greatly. I wish to be prepared against any and all criticism when I share it. That said, I just discovered that Raphael was made Prefect of Antiquities giving him authority over all archaeological...See More
    Unlike · Reply · 2 · February 23 at 6:24pm · Edited

    Cassius Amicus

    Write a reply...

    Γεώργιος Καπλάνης

    Γεώργιος Καπλάνης Έλλη, από την Αθήνα (Χρήστος και Τάκης) είπαν ότι οι αποθήκες του Βατικανού άνοιξαν μετά που πέθανε ο Ραφαήλ και συνεπώς δεν ήξερε πως ήταν ο Επίκουρος. Τα γνωρίζεις. Αυτό το είπα στην κόρη μου και αυτή ξέσπασε σε γέλια !! Γιά το κοινό , μου ΄λέει, άνοιξε. Ο Ραφαήλ και άλλοι σημαντικοί θα μπαινόβγαιναν όποτε ήθελα.!! Θεώρησε εξαιρετικά αφελή μιά τέτοια σκέψη.!!See Translation
    Like · Reply · 1 · February 23 at 3:21pm

    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa Γεώργιος Καπλάνης φίλε μου και εγώ ξεσπάω σε γέλια με όσα ακούω κάποιες φορές !See Translation
    Like · Reply · 1 · February 23 at 3:28pm · Edited

    Cassius Amicus

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    Takis Panagiotopoulos

    Takis Panagiotopoulos The inscribed busts of Epicurus

    We can do as many cases we want, but we've two known and confirmed facts.

    1. The discovery occurred only in 1742 in Rome. During work on the construction of the portico to the church St Maria Maggiore, accidentally discovered the first double bust of Epicurus to Metrodorus, which were inscribed their names.

    Dual bust immediately placed in the collection of Pope Benedict 14. The discovery was great because it finally became known as Epicurus and his Mitrodorou. It entails the identification of remaining anonymous busts with their form (thirty busts of Epicurus have been found, all copies of Hellenistic Roman period as Bernard Frischer says).

    2. In 1753 the discovery happened also inscribed small bronze bust of Epicurus, the Villa of Papyri at Herculaneum Italy into the ashes Vezouviou2. In this way, finally confirmed the form of Epicurus. After dozens of centuries so we met again the gentle character of this great philosopher.

    Οι ενεπίγραφες προτομές του Επίκουρου.

    Μπορούμε να κάνουμε όσες υποθέσεις θέλουμε, όμως έχουμε δυο γνωστά και επιβεβαιωμένα γεγονότα.

    1o.Η ανακάλυψη συνέβη μόλις το 1742 στην Ρώμη. Κατά την διάρκεια εργασιών για την κατασκευή στοάς στην εκκλησία St Maria Maggiore, ανακαλύφθηκε τυχαία η πρώτη διπλή προτομή του Επίκουρου με το Μητρόδωρο, όπου υπήρχαν χαραγμένα τα ονόματά τους. Η διπλή προτομή τοποθετήθηκαν αμέσως στην συλλογή του Πάπα Βενέδικτου του 14ου1. Η ανακάλυψη ήταν μεγάλη, διότι επιτέλους έγινε γνωστή η μορφή του Επίκουρου αλλά και του Μητρόδωρου. Είχε ως επακόλουθο την ταυτοποίηση των υπολοίπων ανώνυμων προτομών με την μορφή τους.

    2. Το 1753 συνέβη η ανακάλυψη επίσης ενεπίγραφης μικρής χάλκινης προτομής του του Επίκουρου, στην Βίλα των Παπύρων στο Ερκολάνο της Ιταλίας μέσα στις στάχτες του Βεζούβιου2. Με τον τρόπο αυτό, επιβεβαιώθηκε οριστικά η μορφή του Επίκουρου. Συνολικά μέχρι σήμερα έχουν βρεθεί τριάντα προτομές του Επίκουρου, όλες ελληνιστικά αντίγραφα της ρωμαϊκής περιόδου όπως αναφέρει ο Bernard Frischer (σελ. 175). Μετά από δεκάδες αιώνες λοιπόν, γνωρίσαμε και πάλι την ευγενική φυσιογνωμία αυτού του μεγάλου φιλοσόφου. Ολόκληρο το άρθρο εδώ

    Unlike · Reply · 1 · February 23 at 4:30pm · Edited

    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa That is to say Takis that our own eyes are false. THE SENSES ARE FALSE of what we SEE in the fresco. Because the discoveries of the two busts of Epicurus were in the same period. And you say among other things that you know what was behind of every secret door in the Vatican. And you say Takis that the popes speculation with that silly boy with a smirk is Epicurus, and it is correct. But mine, the epicurean is not correct, because the popes are frank persons and they did not have anything from Epicurus as a portrait somewhere to be seen by Raphael. And you want to believe of what they say, that all the busts were discovered - what a coincidence - all in the same period when the museum of Capitolium was opened to the mob in 1734 !!! All the things happened in 1734 and after. Epicurus did not exist before, his bust did not exist, his portrait did not exist and the Vatican sayings were exist ? Why the vatican sayings exist from 14 century ? By the way have you seen them somewhere inside the Vatican by your own eyes ?

    Thanks Takis for the info, as I said, I do not buy it !

    First thing first my own eyes, my anticipations and my feeling of pleasure against the pain that has been spread so many centuries. My speculation against theirs with the USAGE OF THE CANON.

    "And besides we must keep all our investigations in accord with our sensations, and in particular with the immediate apprehensions whether of the mind or of any one of the instruments of judgment, and likewise in accord with the feelings existing in us, in order that we may have indications whereby we may judge both the problem of sense perception and the unseen".
    Unlike · Reply · 1 · February 23 at 4:39pm · Edited

    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa I take for granted and seriously that the discoveries by chance were only in Ercolano. In Rome the last philosophical schools were the Epicurean and the Stoic. And then came the popes....The stoic popes of course ! 1f61b.png:P
    Unlike · Reply · 2 · February 23 at 4:52pm

    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa The eminence heads of Italy discussed around the welcoming table of Medici for the purpose to reconcile Plato and Jesus, they were dreaming a religion that unites Christian morality and Greek Philokalia. For all this world after Alexandrian era Epicurus was a scandal, such a scandal was to be someone reasonable and to believe in those that catches with his hand and his conclusions after his judgment . His contemporaries were buried him already under calumny, slander and filthy perversions. His extensive work was neglected, lost and we owe in luck the few precious pieces that survived. Hidden for centuries like a spark in ashes were helpful as tinder when the crew of time arrived. The research and understanding have renovate his luminous figure, his genuine Greek figure, and inspired by his luminous physiognomy we restore the antiquity as it was in reality. (Excerpt from the book by the Professor of Philosophy Charalambos Theodoridis entitled "Epicurus - The True Face of the Ancient World")

    Οι εξοχότερες κεφαλές της Ιταλίας συζητούσαν γύρω από το φιλόξενο τραπέζι των Μεδίκων για να συμβιβάσουν Πλάτωνα και Ιησού, ονειρεύονταν μια θρησκεία που να ενώνει χριστιανική ηθική και ελληνική φιλοκαλία. Για όλον αυτόν τον μεταλεξανδρινό κόσμο ο Επίκουρος ήταν σκάνδαλο, όπως ήταν σκάνδαλο να είναι κανείς λογικός να πιστεύει σ ‘ εκείνα που πιάνει με το χέρι του και στα συμπεράσματα που βγάζει με την κρίση του. Οι σύγχρονοί του ήδη τον είχαν θάψει κάτω από διαβολές, αισχρές συκοφαντίες και διαστροφές. Το πλούσιο έργο του παραμελήθηκε, χάθηκε και στην τύχη χρωστάμε τα λίγα πολύτιμα κομμάτια που σώθηκαν. Κρυμένα αιώνες σα σπίθα στη στάχτη χρησίμευσαν προσάναμμα, όταν έφτασε το πλήρωμα άλλων καιρών. Η έρευνα και η κατανόηση αναστήλωσαν τη φωτεινή φυσιογνωμία του, την γνήσια ελληνική και οδηγημένοι από τη φεγγοβολία της αναστηλώνουμε κι εμείς την Αρχαιότητα όπως ήταν στην πραγματικότητα.

    (Απόσπασμα από το βιβλίο του καθηγητή Χαράλαμπου Θεοδωρίδη, Επίκουρος – Η Αληθινή Όψη του Αρχαίου Κόσμου).
    Unlike · Reply · 2 · February 23 at 5:49pm · Edited

    Takis Panagiotopoulos

    Takis Panagiotopoulos by the evidence we have:

    Case 1

    1. Raphael was the only one who saw inscribed bust Epicurus , after the bust was lost until 1742


    2. Raphael saw several busts and used randomly, even though he did not know to whom they belonged, as a non-inscribed bust Epicurus

    Case 2

    The form of the school of athens like Epicurus is simply an overview of a typical philosopher

    personally I do not think

    it is right the first
    Like · Reply · February 24 at 4:19am

    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa What is the first by evidence Takis, ?

    1. Raphael was the only one who saw inscribed bust Epicurus , after the bust was lost until 1742 ??
    Like · Reply · February 24 at 4:23am

    Takis Panagiotopoulos

    Takis Panagiotopoulos the evidence are the archaiological excavations
    Like · Reply · February 24 at 5:14am

    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa And why to not use the method of analogy for the unseen and making some conclusions with the manifold way of thinking ?

    The known : Raphael had painted many philosophers in his fresco as their physiognomy was exactly, since he saw somewhere, specially in the Vatican, their busts and portraits. Raphael had painted Plato, Aristotle holding their works and many others with the symbols of their works.

    Analogy : Raphael had painted Epicurus in his fresco as he was exactly and as we see now with our senses how he is from his busts/portraits. Also Raphael had painted symbolically Epicurus not alone but in a company of friends, because maybe he had read from the Vaticans Sayings or Lucretius (known things) that Epicurus based his philosophy mostly on the friendship of same minded persons (the only company that had been painted embraced) and the pleasure that this immortal good has living like a god among men.

    Conclusion with the manifold way of thinking : Raphael has seen inside the vatican a portrait/bust Epicurus OR Raphael has seen outside the vatican a portrait/bust of Epicurus OR Epicurus busts/portraits were not lost before 1742 OR Epicurus busts and portraits were hidden until 1742 OR Epicurus busts and portraits discovered by chance in 1742 OR Epicurus philosophy and his busts/portraits became known to the public in 1742 when the things had matured.
    Like · Reply · 1 · February 24 at 5:25am · Edited

    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus Elli I am SO SORRY. I did not read your original post closely enough, I missed seeing the arrow in your graphic, and I ignored the "yellow chiton" reference because I did not understand the word "chiton." And so I missed entirely the main point of your post! I should have figured it out at least from Jason's comment the found your theory attractive. Duh - I was very distracted yesterday is my only excuse....

    So now that I understand the point this is a REALLY interesting thread. Your point is EXCELLENT! Have you developed any more argument to support it and/or seen it made anywhere else?

    I contributed to getting it off track by focusing on the issue of when the busts Naples area busts were discovered, and so I missed asking this question: What is the authority for people concluding that the guy with the laurel on his head is Epicurus? Who first reached that conclusion and why? It doesn't seem traditional to portray philosophers with laurel leaves (I guess that is what that is called) so why would Raphael have portrayed Epicurus that way?
    Like · Reply · 2 · February 24 at 5:42am

    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus Now as to the part of the argument that Epicurus is portrayed in a group because that is an Epicurean characteristic, I think in order to embrace that part I would want to compare that group on the left with the group on the right. Are they not too a group of friends? Who are they, and is there any message / parallelism in comparing the placement of Epicurus you are suggesting to the placement of this group? IE are they Stoics to counterbalance Epicurus?
    Like · Reply · 1 · February 24 at 5:44am

    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus For comparison - https://upload.wikimedia.org/.../commons/9/94/Sanzio_01.jpgsafe_image.php?d=AQAvt6roL-CpZHoL&w=424&h=328&url=https%3A%2F%2Fupload.wikimedia.org%2Fwikipedia%2Fcommons%2F9%2F94%2FSanzio_01.jpg&_nc_hash=AQBBZnfuE6X-nRw3

    Like · Reply · Remove Preview · February 24 at 5:46am

    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus What? This identification list suggests NO major Stoics in the painting, nor identifies at all the group on the right that counterbalances the one Elli is suggesting is Epicurus? VERY FISHY! Very hard to believe! That group on the right should be scrutinized to see if they are Stoicshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_School_of_Athens
    Like · Reply · 2 · February 24 at 5:50am · Edited

    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa Cassius you offer me very good points for thinkig and thanks 1f642.png:)
    Like · Reply · 1 · February 24 at 5:50am

    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus It is almost inconceivable to me that the guy who leads the group on the right (of Aristotle) with the pointy white beard, bald head, and very large stomach is not someone VERY important, and likely someone who is the opposite of an Epicurean.
    Like · Reply · 2 · February 24 at 5:53am · Edited

    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus There is no doubt but that Cicero's "ON ENDS" was a major influence from the time it was written and certainly was never lost in this period. And given the influence of stoicism and its friendliness and malleability into Christianity there is no way that Raphael did not highlight it with a very important place in this painting.
    Like · Reply · 2 · February 24 at 5:55am

    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus The point made here in the Wikipedia page as the ALTERNATIVE (that this is Heraclitus and Democritus) seems MUCH more reasonable than to suggest Epicurus.

    "2: Epicurus Possibly, the image of two philosophers, who were typically shown in pairs during the Renaissance: Heraclitus, the "weeping" philosopher, and Democritus, the "laughing" philosopher."
    Like · Reply · 2 · February 24 at 5:58am

    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus The portrayal / attitude of the woman in the front of the group Elli is suggesting is Epicurus indicates to me that she is very likely dismissive/disapproving of the core Aristotle/Plato duo and that would strongly suggest Leontium. If the group on the right are stoics it would be logical to portray them as relatively more approving of Aristotle/Plato while still with an air of smugness/superiority that they had advanced further. Anyone detect that in the guy with the big stomach?
    Like · Reply · 2 · February 24 at 6:08am

    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus There might well be similar parallelism in the two groups closer to the front of the painting. Does anyone see any Ionian / Italian school division (From diogenes Laertius) going on? Not sure....

    I see that the wikipedia article says that the group on the front left is Pythagorus. What that "U' figure on the black slate in that group? Whatever it is must be a dead giveaway as to the identity of that grouping.
    Like · Reply · 2 · February 24 at 6:16am

    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus Two of these characters in the "Epicurus group" are wearing something blue on their heads. What is that?Image may contain: one or more people and people standing

    Like · Reply · 1 · February 24 at 6:20am

    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus This article has more speculation that I find unsatisfying and evidences my concern that the identification of Epicurus with the guy with the leaves on his head is intended by some as an insult to Epicurus

    Leaning on the marble block at the lower left, wearing a crown of fig leaves and with a satisfied smirk on his pudgy face, is the arch-epicurean Epicurus. The face here is the portrait of the Pope’s librarian Tommaso Inghirami, of whom Raphael also painted a fine oil portrait around 1510 ([1, Figure 38]; [9, color plate III]). Joost-Gaugier assembles an impressive argument thatInghirami was the brilliant Renaissance humanist whose learning underlay

    the design of the entire Stanza della Segnatura, including the School of Athens[9, pages 17-42].

    Like · Reply · 2 · February 24 at 6:33am

    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus That last referenced article says "One other point that might trouble a twenty-first century viewer is thatthe School of Athens contains no women. What a pity that Raphael did notinclude Hypatia, or Aspasia, or the wise woman Diotima of Mantineia whowas Socrates’ teacher/" As far as I am concerned the face and hair of that figure in front of the "Epicurus group" looks like it could well be a woman to me..... And of course this writer makes no reference to Leontium as a candidate worthy of inclusion......
    Like · Reply · 2 · February 24 at 6:37am · Edited

    Takis Panagiotopoulos

    Takis Panagiotopoulos Raphael did not leave a map with names of philosophers. Τhe assumption that the Epicurus is this funny man belongs to a later period and expresses the image that the most people had to our philosophy at the Middle Ages..
    Unlike · Reply · 3 · February 24 at 6:42am

    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus Depending on what supporting evidence and theories can be developed here there needs to be a major article written on "The Case For Epicurus Being Near the Center of Raphael's 'School of Athens'" and that ought to be as circulated as widely as possible. That would be a major accomplishment for reigniting interest in studying Epicurus, and it would be a major "blow for Epicurus" as Lucian referenced in "Alexander the Oracle Monger."
    Like · Reply · 2 · February 24 at 6:59am · Edited

    Takis Panagiotopoulos

    Takis Panagiotopoulos I agree, but it is good to quote all the data we have from archeology etc. for the error in the form of Epicurus to the school of athens... and then develop the new very interesting case highlighted by Elli
    Unlike · Reply · 3 · February 24 at 7:31am · Edited

    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus I agree Takis. It should be a very well researched and logical article, but if it thoroughly recounts the facts that have been passed over in the standard analysis it could have a major impact.
    Like · Reply · 3 · February 24 at 7:45am

    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus "Restoring Epicurus To His Rightful Place in the School of Athens"
    Like · Reply · 3 · February 24 at 7:47am

    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus If the grouping to the left of Plato is Epicurean, it is logical to scrutinize the grouping to the right of Aristotle as Stoic. That could be Zeno in the back in the place parallel to Epicurus, but there would need to be a tradition of some greek stoic being big and fat to mesh with the large bald man in front. I seem to recall that Cleanthes was reputed to be a wrestler, but we need to study DIogenes Laertius and other sources to see whether someone in the Stoic line would fit that caricature. If Chryssippus were both the second founder of Stoicism and the first main opponent of Epicurus, then he would be someone to look at closely.
    Like · Reply · 3 · February 24 at 9:03am · Edited

    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus Probably not Chrysippus: "Chrysippus, the son of Apollonius of Tarsus, was born at Soli, Cilicia.[3] He was slight in stature,[4] and is reputed to have trained as a long-distance runner.[5]"

    However Chrysippus was largely bald and bearded -- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrysippus...safe_image.php?d=AQABkT621uiUxEN9&w=90&h=90&url=https%3A%2F%2Fupload.wikimedia.org%2Fwikipedia%2Fcommons%2Fthumb%2Fa%2Fa6%2FChrysippos_BM_1846.jpg%2F1200px-Chrysippos_BM_1846.jpg&cfs=1&upscale=1&_nc_hash=AQD11lK5DrAKM6OA

    Chrysippus - Wikipedia
    in the Stoic school. When Cleanthes died, around 230 BC, Chrysippus became the third head of…

    Like · Reply · Remove Preview · February 24 at 9:12am · Edited

    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus Cleanthes - boxer; strong back: "Cleanthes was born in Assos in the Troad about 330 BC.[a] According to Diogenes Laërtius,[2] he was the son of Phanias, and early in life he was a boxer. With but four drachmae in his possession he came to Athens, where he took up philosophy, listening first to the lectures of Crates the Cynic,[3] and then to those of Zeno, the Stoic. In order to support himself, he worked all night as water-carrier to a gardener (hence his nickname the Well-Water-Collector, Greek: Φρεάντλης). As he spent the whole day in studying philosophy with no visible means of support, he was summoned before the Areopagus to account for his way of living. The judges were so delighted by the evidence of work which he produced, that they voted him ten minae, though Zeno would not permit him to accept them. His power of patient endurance, or perhaps his slowness, earned him the title of "the Ass" from his fellow students, a name which he was said to have rejoiced in, as it implied that his back was strong enough to bear whatever Zeno put upon it."
    Like · Reply · February 24 at 9:06am

    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus Picture of Cleanthes:http://www.iep.utm.edu/cleanthe/safe_image.php?d=AQCDNNyb-T7oZl6-&w=90&h=90&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.iep.utm.edu%2Fwp-content%2Fmedia%2Fcleanthes.jpg&cfs=1&upscale=1&sx=0&sy=0&sw=180&sh=180&_nc_hash=AQAYyonzXC3dLil4

    Cleanthes | Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

    Like · Reply · Remove Preview · February 24 at 9:09am

    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa Here is our man with the bald head !
    Like · Reply · February 24 at 9:13am

    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa Is this the man with his famous prayer-hymn to god Zeus ?

    Most glorious of immortals, Zeus

    The many named, almighty evermore,

    Nature's great Sovereign, ruling all by law

    Hail to thee! On thee 'tis meet and right

    That mortals everywhere should call.

    From thee was our begetting; ours alone

    Of all that live and move upon the earth

    The lot to bear God's likeness.

    Thee will I ever chant, thy power praise!

    For thee this whole vast cosmos, wheeling round

    The earth, obeys, and where thou leadest

    It follows, ruled willingly by thee.

    In thy unconquerable hands thou holdest fast,

    Ready prepared, that two-timed flaming blast,

    The ever-living thunderbolt:

    Nature's own stroke brings all things to their end.

    By it thou guidest aright the sense instinct

    Which spreads through all things, mingled even

    With stars in heaven, the great and small-

    Thou who art King supreme for evermore!

    Naught upon earth is wrought in thy despite, oh God.

    Nor in the ethereal sphere aloft which ever winds

    About its pole, nor in the sea-save only what

    The wicked work, in their strange madness,

    Yet even so, thou knowest to make the crooked straight.

    Prune all excess, give order to the orderless,

    For unto thee the unloved still is lovely-

    And thus in one all things are harmonized,

    The evil with the good, that so one Word

    Should be in all things everlastingly.

    One Word-which evermore the wicked flee!

    Ill-fated, hungering to possess the good

    They have no vision of God's universal law,

    Nor will they hear, though if obedient in mind

    They might obtain a noble life, true wealth.

    Instead they rush unthinking after ill:

    Some with a shameless zeal for fame,

    Others pursuing gain, disorderly;

    Still others folly, or pleasures of the flesh.

    [But evils are their lot] and other times

    Bring other harvests, all unsought-

    For all their great desire, its opposite!

    But, Zeus, thou giver of every gift,

    Who dwellest within the dark clouds, wielding still

    The flashing stroke of lightning, save, we pray,

    Thy children from this boundless misery.

    Scatter, Oh Father, the darkness from their souls,

    Grant them to find true understanding

    On which relying thou justly rulest all-

    While we, thus honoured, in turn will honour thee,

    Hymning thy works forever, as is meet

    For mortals while no greater right

    Belongs even to the gods than evermore

    Justly to praise the universal law!
    Like · Reply · February 24 at 9:18am

    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa Oh this is theology indeed. This leads to the religion indeed. This leads to the confusion indeed. This is against the whole Nature indeed. 1f61b.png:P
    Like · Reply · February 24 at 9:19am

    Cassius Amicus

    Write a reply...

    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa From the article that posted by Cassius we read :

    1. In those pre-Copernican days, astrology was a respectable, complex, and sophisticated enterprise, and Paulus issued many annual prognostications with some notable successes (for instance, in 1524 predicting that the world would not be ending in a flood that year). His prognostications for 1480-1482 include mathematical challenge questions so advanced they went unanswered, on topics like properties of the sphere and cylinder, the value of π, and the quadrature of the parabola, showing a good knowledge of the work of Archimedes. A 1518 publication by Paulus concerning compound interest and the number of atoms in the universe introduced an early form of decimals to notate the results.

    2. I offer, finally, as a theory of my own, a “null hypothesis” (in both literal and statistical senses): that Euclid’s figure may have no real mathematical meaning. The scene is a beautiful image of scholarship: the mathematicians of Athens would have been engrossed in some such geometric diagram. But,just as a Raphael “Madonna and Child” is an image of maternal tenderness,not an instructional diagram on how to hold one’s baby, it might simply be misplaced ingenuity to seek an actual theorem on Euclid’s slate.

    3. Raphael’s School of Athens well deserves its fame as an image of an ideal world of intellectual life. Though the verall plan is clear, many details and identifications still remain undetermined. Might Euclid’s slate hold a new theorem? The present article has described some candidates; possibly a better one is still waiting to be found. In any case, the scene itself remains a magnificent image of an ideal life in mathematics.

    From just the above three paragraphs of the article we see clearly that :

    All the analyses, the interpretations, the speculations, the views, the opinions and so on of what we see in the picture "school of Athens" are based on Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics. i.e Mathematics, dialectics, geometry, poetry, theology, Logos, virtues and all that stuff that made the people to be confused and be against the real goal and the real world !

    Where is the real study of Nature ?

    Here is the challenge of a new article entitled "The Case For Epicurus Being Near the Center of Raphael's 'School of Athens' - with the collaboration of many of us - making clear to all of them and VS to their endless verbalism WHAT IS THE Epicurean Canon. The method of the Analogy. The clarification on words. The manifold way of thinking by Epicurus against all the dilemmas. What are the first principles of Nature, and whats the goal of human's life as set by Nature when he studies philosophy that is in accordance with Nature ?

    I would be very glad if this post would be continued with the collaboration of many of us and be circulated at the internet. 1f642.png:)
    Unlike · Reply · 2 · February 24 at 9:06am · Edited

    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus Exactly Elli. There is strong, wide, and enduring interest in this work of art. A persuasive reinterpretation which shows how Raphael considered Epicurus to be near the center of the action would be a tremendous help in encouraging interest in him.
    Like · Reply · 2 · February 24 at 9:08am

    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa Well, now the action ...volunteers and collaborators for this action ??
    Unlike · Reply · 2 · February 24 at 9:10am

    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus As one starting point, the 2012 article by Robert Haas says that this book is the "state of the art" on this topic. We need access to the relevant parts of this book:

    "Identifying the individual figures is an intricate, still-ongoing scholarly game; ...See More
    Like · Reply · 1 · February 24 at 9:42am

    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa Is this book Cassius ? https://www.amazon.com/Raphaels-Stanza.../dp/0521809231safe_image.php?d=AQDyC-9t55H0uAPh&w=90&h=90&url=https%3A%2F%2Fimages-na.ssl-images-amazon.com%2Fimages%2FI%2F31r0TsvpSfL._SR600%252c315_PIWhiteStrip%252cBottomLeft%252c0%252c35_PIAmznPrime%252cBottomLeft%252c0%252c-5_PIStarRatingFOUR%252cBottomLeft%252c360%252c-6_SR600%252c315_SCLZZZZZZZ_.jpg&cfs=1&upscale=1&_nc_hash=AQBEenrGswjdIUel

    Raphael's Stanza della Segnatura: Meaning and Invention

    Unlike · Reply · Remove Preview · 2 · February 24 at 9:49am

    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus That must be it!
    Like · Reply · February 24 at 9:50am

    Cassius Amicus

    Write a reply...

    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa Christiane L. Joost-Gaugier opens her discussion... with the bold asserion that "the Stanza della Segnatura belongs as much to the history of ideas as to the history of art", an assumption she goes on to explore through a painstaking examination of the imagery from Julius II's private library." Sixteenth Century Journal

    Book Description

    Raphael's Stanza della Segnatura in the Vatican Palace has often been considered the artist's most aesthetically perfect work. Executed between 1508 and 1511, it features a painted ceiling, a pavement of inlaid marble, and four frescoed walls, all orchestrated with a cast of famous historical figures who exemplify the various disciplines of learning. Joost-Gaugier's study is the first to examine the elements of the Stanza della Segnatura as an ensemble, exploring the meaning of the frescoes and accompanying decoration in light of recent studies into the intellectual world of High Renaissance Rome.
    Like · Reply · February 24 at 9:50am

    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus I think the identity of the figure marked (1) here is key - he is clearly someone to reckon with and not a filler. Determining who he is would tell us a lot. If the theory that this is a stoic grouping were correct, I suppose (6) would most likely be...See MoreImage may contain: 3 people

    Like · Reply · 2 · February 24 at 10:35am

    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus 1. We know the ancients made many copies of the image of Epicurus.

    2. We know that 30! Have now been located.

    3. We know that Epicurus was hated by church and Stoics alike.

    4. We know that the church and academia have done what they could to discourage and suppress Epicurean philosophy.

    5. We know that the establishment reports that the image identification was lost until the mid 1700a

    6. We know the church and philosophical establishment are congenital liars.

    My conclusion: the official records are entitled to little deference and the likelihood is that the image of Epicurus was never fully lost to those who wanted to find it.

    Now how that applies to this work of art is a different question, but I think all church and establishment / academia records and positions regarding Epicurus should be viewed with great skepticism.
    Like · Reply · 2 · February 24 at 12:21pm · Edited

    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa Cassius here they are, and with their written words 1f609.png;)Image may contain: 3 people, text

    Like · Reply · 2 · February 24 at 1:00pm · Edited

    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa Cassius hi ! Please look at those two hands right down in the corner of the picture, next to the Fate of Zeno the Cytium, is like they are emptied and saying desperately : "we can not do anything at all everything is fated" ! 1f609.png;)
    Like · Reply · 1 · February 26 at 3:02am · Edited

    Julius von Makanec

    Julius von Makanec there seems to be quite a lot of concept misunderstanding going on: e.g. we do not know what Aristotle MEANS by the phrase "contemplation of God"...
    Like · Reply · February 26 at 5:58am

    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus Yes I agree that the two hands do indicate that Elli. As we move away from the center of the picture is there any overall organization that can be assigned to how people are placed? I think one of the article said that it was divided into halves by "realist" vs "idealist" but that is not clear to me. I didn't yet have time to look to see if there was an "Italic vs Ionian" division from DL either....
    Like · Reply · 2 · February 26 at 7:23am

    Elli Pensa

    Elli Pensa Julius von Makanec The "Ethical Evdimeia" is the first of three moral treatises of Aristotle (the other two are the "Ethics" and "Nicomachean Ethics"). The name "Evdimeia" was received by an Aristotle’s disciple with the name Eudemus of Rhodes, because the philosopher Aristotle respected Eudemus and devoted this treatise to him.

    The thesis consists of seven books and are strictly moral; i.e. is not connected with politics, that is in the case in the "Nicomachean Ethics". The "Ethical Evdimeia" have at most a religious connotation. In these the true virtue is based on the religion and is a manifestation of the command and inspiration of a reasonable superman. This peculiarity echoes the Platonic heritage of Aristotle or, according to some others, the stoic effect.
    Like · Reply · 1 · February 26 at 9:44am · Edited

    Cassius Amicus

    Write a reply...

    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus A good start!
    Like · Reply · 1 · February 24 at 4:41pm

    Cassius Amicus

    Cassius Amicus I wonder what we could do to stir up general interest in this. A Facebook group devoted solely to identifying the people and/or symbology shown in the fresco? That might get much wider interest (?)

  • I don't have much really, but I can summarize my thinking.

    I disagree with Elli on the probable placement of Epicurus in the frescoe. I wouldn't at all expect to find him in a central position on the dais—he always taught in a private setting, far secluded from the gymnasium.

    I wouldn't be surprised if we found out that even Raphael didn't identify the clustered figures that frame Plato and Aristotle. A place is often given in Greek art and drama to the hoi polloi—in drama, the polis is represented by the chorus. In philosophical dialogues, the 'room' is filled up with named characters who have no speaking parts at all. They exist simply to frame the discussion in a community setting.

    I would expect to find him pictured with a book. It is easy to forget how prolific a writer Epicurus was—over 300 scrolls is an impressive and unmatched corpus for that time and place. Diogenes Laertius said as much, and he must have been Raphael's primary source.

    I would not expect his portrait to resemble the ancient busts. For one thing, it's not clear whether Raphael knew of them. For another, iconography was more important than actual likeness to these Renaissance painters, and mostly they used contemporary people as models.

    The humanist on which this portrait was based was Tommaso Inghirami; and that is suggestive. Inghirami was a learned humanist, a prefect of the Vatican Library, and poet laureate. Erasmus complained of an oration in which Inghirami "treated Christ as a self-sacrificing hero rather than the Redeemer." In Raphael's version, the wreathed figure is supporting the weight of a friend or follower who leans on him from behind with bowed head. A hint of the soteriology that clung to Epicurus, perhaps?

    There are other hints that are more incidental, but I'll leave it there for now.

  • OK I see! These are "interpretational" arguments that I can certainly understand. I was thinking that you were referring to some specific clues that you saw referenced in the British museum article beyond just the mural itself. That's what I wanted to be sure to file away in my mind - whether you saw some new data that I'd missed. Thanks for elaborating!

    Thank you for following up on that, Don; I was up far too late last night.

    I also found that British Museum article, and I found the illustrations very interesting. Elli wrote an article a few years back on what she believes was the misidentification of Epicurus in Raphael's School of Athens. I think at some point I'll write an article or make a video arguing the other side in that debate, looking at Diogenes Laertius, the Nuremburg Chronicle, and De Claris Mulieribus for clues.

  • Right. The main question with that article is whether the man "hugging" Leontion is meant by the illustrator to signify Epicurus. Groping the 'courtesan', and all that. If it is, that gives us (along with the Nuremburg Chronicle) two drawings of Epicurus in popular Latin texts from the 15th Century that portray him beardless, and in the one case paunchy. Rather how one would portray a Eunuch—or the head of a school of philosophy stereotyped as weak and effeminate, and "fit only for swine".

    Raphael was working on the painting less than 20 years after the Nuremburg Chronicle was published, and the Nuremburg Chronicle gives a positive ID to Epicurus' portrait.

    I would say that I am...oh, 75 percent convinced that the wreathed figure is Epicurus. There's certainly plenty of room for interpretation!

  • Well just to be up front and on the record I am going to have to side with Elli on this one, but it's a multi-layered issue and that's why I asked about the history - it's certainly possible that there is some record that would substantiate the possibility that Raphael intended what you mean.

    Back when Elli posted the article there was some additional discussion with one of the other Greek activists on the issue of "Was knowledge of the true face of Epicurus ever really TOTALLY lost, or are we just talking some people in some areas thought it was lost while other areas / other people had access to one or more of the relatively large numbers of busts of Epicurus that apparently survived the ancient world. I tend to think that given the hurdles of communication back in those years it's entirely possible that some people were well aware of what Epicurus looked like and others were not, but I have nothing to back that up other than I don't think it is likely logical that digging up a single bust in Herculaneum was the first time that any living human had an inkling of Epicurus' true face in 500 or 1000 or 1500 years.

    Then there are the issues of the people involved in the mural in Italy and who knew what.

    I think the details of all that historical debate are as interesting, perhaps more so, than the debate on where we think Epicurus "should" have been placed.

    Like I said I side with Elli's interpretation, but I think there's a lot more to be learned from discussing the issue.

    Come to think of it I believe this debate all took place before we came into contact with Michelle Pinto. I will see If I can post something somewhere to see if he has an opinion on this.

    Note to self: I need to go back to the article and check this - I do not recall Elli suggesting that the figure of Epicurus was hugging the female figure:

    The main question with that article is whether the man "hugging" Leontion is meant by the illustrator to signify Epicurus. Groping the 'courtesan', and all that.

  • michelepinto -

    In a more recent thread Joshua and I took a sidetrack and Joshua expressed his opinion that he felt differently than Elli on this question, and that he thought the figure identified as "2" in Elli's graphic above, as is often stated (perhaps on the wikipedia page too).

    I don't think you were communicating with us regularly when this debate started, and in fact I see the original post is so old that some of the graphics have now disappeared. I am not sure I can reconstruct those but I will see what I can do.

    But my reason for posting this is: I think this is a very interesting debate, and I wonder if you have an opinion not only on the main question but on:

    (1) Do you think knowledge of Epicurus' true appearance was ever COMPLETELY lost to the world?

    (2) Do you know anything about the history of what he was thought to have looked like, and when that became solidified?

    I think I have read that there was a discovery at Herculaneum of a bust that had his name etched on it, so at that point any debate would have ceased. However it is also my impression that there are MANY surviving busts of Epicurus, along with rings, and I find it very difficult to believe personally that NO ONE in the world retained an accurate tradition.

    And of course that gets us back to the question - Even if we presume that some people some places knew that Epicurus was not bald and pudgy, what do we know (if anything) about Raphael's connection to that knowledge, or his own description of who these characters are supposed to represent.

    If you have any insight, or know anyone we could ask, that would be greatly appreciated!

  • Quote

    I tend to think that given the hurdles of communication back in those years it's entirely possible that some people were well aware of what Epicurus looked like and others were not.

    It is difficult to assess, to be sure. And Raphael was certainly ideally placed; if anyone knew what Epicurus really looked like, it probably was the Vatican Library!


    Note to self: I need to go back to the article and check this - I do not recall Elli suggesting that the figure of Epicurus was hugging the female figure:

    I didn't mean Elli's article; I don't think she looked at De Claris Mulieribus in her consideration. As far as I know, my speculation that the hugging figure was Epicurus is original. It makes sense though; if you're trying to calumniate Leontion, and they certainly were, then the slander is more complete if it implicates Epicurus as well.

  • I don't think the bust of Epicurus preserved in the Capitoline Museums in Rome and other busts scattered throughout south Europe have ever disappeared.

    Obviously when Raphael painted the School of Athens there were no cameras, and very few people knew Greek to be able to read the name of Epicurus on his bust.

    But above all for Raphael it was not important that the appearance of Epicurus was real, the figure he painted had to embody the (wrong) idea that at the time there was of Epicurus.

  • Well that is interesting and probably a new take in the conversation. You are suggesting that regardless of whether Raphael knew what Epicurus looked like, he might have wanted to embody the current thought as to his character.

    I am afraid that I don't even really know the data as to whether Raphael himself ever gave a list of who was who, or where the list we are discussing came from. When I have time I need to start at the beginning and confirm the trail of who is or was asserting the identity of these peripheral figures. Presumably Aristotle and Plato in the center were never in doubt, but I don't know the trail of history of these designations.

    Thank you Michele!

    And hey that is a great new AVATAR you are using!

  • Some pictures would help!


    Above is a mid-15th century French manuscript of Boccaccio's De Claris Mulieribus, from the article Don cited from the British Museum. The figure in green is certainly Leontion. I am merely speculating that the figure in red is meant to depict a portly, sybaritic and lecherous Epicurus.


    This image comes from a late-15th century incunabulum of The Nuremburg Chronicle.

    In light of these two, as well as all of the other things I mentioned, I am persuaded that the following is likewise an image of Epicurus.


  • OKAY now I understand based on those first two photos ;-) I presumed you were talking about something from Don's link but I wasn't diligent enough to try to figure it out. Now we have a basis to explore at some future point when we both have more time. I think I am going to move these posts to the thread on the painting where they will be easier to find. Thank you!

  • It's interesting that after more than three years we finally get a discussion going on this topic! This is what "forum" software is good for - asynchronous discussion! I particularly hope that now that we have called this to michelepinto 's attention he will keep the question in mind, as being from Italy he probably is uniquely position to raise this question every so often with people who are in a position to have some really keen insight into the question.

  • I must admit I'm intrigued by elli 's conjecture. That robed figure off to the side fits the bill for Epicurus, down to the cleft beard. I'm also skeptical whether Epicurus would have had so prominent a spot right down front if we take the traditional attribution.

    As for the Boccaccio illustration, it doesn't appear Epicurus is even mentioned in Leontium's entry. I've attached my scan. I would think it more "scandalous" if it was just a random "John" sexually assaulting Leontium.

  • OK I have to apologize to everyone because I have only now had the time to follow Don's original links to see what Joshua was commenting on..... Now I see where Joshua was coming from.

    At least to organize my own thoughts, if not the thread as a whole, it seems we are talking about a series of things:

    1. Did Raphael have access to good information as to what Epicurus really looked like?
      1. The context of that question is that clearly at some point in history various book publishers featured renderings of Epicurus which were apparently "reconstructed" as if they did not have access to good information about Epicurus' likeness.
      2. On the other hand, it appears to be the case that there were busts of Epicurus at the Vatican which survived from antiquity. If the memory was also preserved that these busts were of Epicurus (which needs to be determined) then at least some Europeans retained a correct knowledge of his likeness even while books were being published elsewhere with incorrect portrayals.
      3. Is it possible that Epicurus' true face was not known anywhere with confidence until the small bust inscribed with his name was found at Herculaneum?
    2. Did Raphael convey to others who each of the figures in his fresco were intended to represent?
    3. If Raphael did not convey his own views to others, is there a record of a historical tradition as to who each figure was?
    4. We're presumably talking about the Wikipedia attribution. What authority does the Wikipedia page cite?
    5. Is it possible that Raphael knew what Epicurus really looked like, but nevertheless portrayed him as the pudgy wreathed stenographer?
    6. If the pudgy wreathed stenographer was not intended to be Epicurus, is there another likely candidate for that figure?
    7. What case can be made that the figure which most resembles the actual Epicurus, the bearded figure in Orange to the left of Plato, was intended by Raphael to represent Epicurus?
    8. What implications can be drawn from the placement of the figures and the context in which they are placed?
  • I'm also skeptical whether Epicurus would have had so prominent a spot right down front if we take the traditional attribution.

    That's another angle on this to consider. Which position is more "prominent"? The one down front with the pudgy wreathed figure, or the position located very close to the central figures of the fresco (even if somewhat obscured)?