The School of Athens represents all the greatest mathematicians, philosophers and scientists from classical antiquity gathered together sharing their ideas and learning from each other. These figures all lived at different times, but here they are gathered together under one roof.
Julius Caesar stands out in history as one of most influential men who ever lived. The reason for this is that he is credited for laying the groundwork of the Roman Empire, which thrived for over four hundred years after his death. At the time he lived, the republic of Rome was torn apart by political and civil strife. The tasks of administering government in many far flung provinces, building suitable infrastructure, and regulating a professional army were overwhelming to a political system run by feuding oligarchs in a single city. Julius Caesar understood the drastic reforms that would be necessary to prevent the empire from breaking apart and he made great strides during his own life in this direction, although he destroyed the republic in the process.
In his youth, Julius Caesar was popular and known to be personally courageous, but he also had a reputation as a reveler and a spendthrift, and did not show early signs of serious ambition. He did not rise to high prominence in the popular party until his late thirties, and held only minor offices until then. He was forty by the time he formed the first triumvirate with Crassus and Pompey, and at the time was the junior member. It was in the following decade, from 58 to 50 B.C., that he distinguished himself as a formidable leader in both the military and political domains. In his conquest of Gaul he is said to have taken up arms against over a million Gallic warriors, and killed another million. He completely subdued the entire region of modern France and made forays into Britain and Germany. At the same time he was achieving extraordinary military success, he wrote one of the greatest classic works of literature in the ancient world, “Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic War.” His personal and political popularity reached ever greater heights during this time, including everyone but the Senate and their supporters.
After Caesar had served eight years in Gaul the fearful Senate requested that he disband his armies. At that point he made the difficult decision to march to Rome. This essentially forced a civil war, but Caesar hoped to reconcile with his opponents rather than destroy them. All of Italy surrendered to him without a battle and his enemies, led by Pompey, were forced to flee to the East to raise armies there. At the battle of Pharsalia, only one year after he crossed the Rubicon, his most important enemy, Pompey, was defeated. It took another year to consolidate his power and put down minor revolts throughout the empire. At all times Caesar was as conciliatory as possible and pardoned his opponents without hesitation.
By 46 BC the empire was completely pacified and he returned to Rome to start his work of reform and reorganization. He had advanced ideas on many topics, from the building of roads, communication and infrastructure, to a revamped system of taxes, to a change in the very idea of Roman citizenship and voting rights. His career was cut short by assassination, but many of his ideas and reforms were carried through by later emperors. He was at the time, and still is, a very controversial character. His admirers have always seen a great defender of the people against a corrupt oligarchy, while his detractors have seen a power hungry demagogue, and an enemy of democracy. How the world might have been different if he had never lived, or perchance, if he had lived longer, is one of those perennially fascinating questions that historians have been speculating on for twenty centuries.
Type: Oil, tempera, pastel and crayon on cardboard
In his diary in an entry headed “Nice 22 January 1892”, Munch wrote:
I was walking along the road with two friends – the sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red – I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence – there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city – my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety – and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.
He later described his inspiration for the image:
One evening I was walking along a path, the city was on one side and the fjord below. I felt tired and ill. I stopped and looked out over the fjord—the sun was setting, and the clouds turning blood red. I sensed a scream passing through nature; it seemed to me that I heard the scream. I painted this picture, painted the clouds as actual blood. The color shrieked. This became The Scream.
( Atlas holding a celestial sphere over the eastern entrance to the Austrian national library. In the past it was a roof element on the Hofburg Palace at Josefsplatz in 1010 Vienna )
ATLAS was the Titan god who bore the sky aloft. He personified the quality of endurance (atlaô).
Atlas was a leader of the Titanes (Titans) in their war against Zeus and after their defeat he was condemned to carry the heavens upon his shoulders. According to others he was instead appointed guardian of the pillars which held the earth and sky asunder. Atlas was also the god who instructed mankind in the art of astronomy, a tool which was used by sailors in navigation and farmers in measuring the seasons. These roles were often combined and Atlas becomes the god who turns the heaven on their axis, causing the stars to revolve.
Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) – Italian astronomer, scientist and philosopher, who played a leading role in the Scientific Revolution. Galileo improved the telescope and made many significant discoveries in astronomy. His findings encouraged him to speak out for the Copernican view that the earth revolved around the sun . His greatest scientific works included Two New Sciences about kinetics and the strength of materials.
By inventing the world’s first powerful telescope, Galileo was able to make many ground-breaking explorations of the universe. Galileo’s His telescopes increased magnification from around just 2x to around 30x magnification. Using this new telescope he found that:
Saturn had a beautiful ring of clouds.
The moon was not flat but had mountains and craters.
Using his own telescope, he discovered four moons of Jupiter – Io, Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa. He also noted these moons revolved around Jupiter rather than the sun.
To support the theory of heliocentrism, Galileo had the mathematical proofs of Copernicus but also new proofs from the science of astronomy. However, Galileo knew that publishing these studies would bring the disapproval of the church authorities. Yet, he also felt a willingness to risk the church’s displeasure. Galileo stated: “The Bible shows the way to go to heaven, not the way the heavens go.”
Catholic Church considered Galileo’s ideas as heresy. At first they sentenced him to life in prison, but later allowed him to live at his home in Tuscany under house arrest.
Galileo continued to write while under house arrest. In his later years he became blind. He died on January 8, 1642.
The scene that David is capturing is the retaliation of the Sabine’s to the Romans. The Romans initially had come to the Sabines and had taken their women, as depicted by many artists in the work “Rape of the Sabine Women”, and now the Sabines were now coming to the Romans to attack them. The leader of the Romans (Romulus), had taken Hersilia, the daughter of Tatius, the leader of the Sabines, and had borne two children to Romulus. In the painting we see Hersilia stopping the attack between the two forces, as well as other women and children. The point that is prominent in the painting is Hersilla standing between Tatius and Romulus just before they are going to fight. Romulus is on the right with his shield, and his arm is in full climax of energy, just about to release his javelin. We also see Tatius as he is holding his shield, waiting to spur off any attacks from Romulus.