[Arthur Schopenhauer]

Title: Arthur Schopenhauer

Author: Jules Lunteschütz

Year: 1855


Arthur Schopenhauer was born on 22 February 1788 in Danzig, Prussia (nowdays Gdańsk, Poland), one of the greatest philosophers ever lived.He was the son of Johanna Schopenhauer (née Trosiener) and Heinrich Floris Schopenhauer, both descendants of wealthy German families. In 1805, Arthur’s father ended his life by committing suicide. From then on, his mother took over his upbringing, and in 1807, Arthur was enrolled in a gymnasium in Gotha. 

 In 1809, Arthur was accepted at the University of Göttingen, where he pursued a degree in medicine. He also studied philosophy under the direction of G.E. Schulze, who regularly assigned him philosophical readings, his interests were especially peaked by the works of Plato and Immanuel Kant, and they had a significant influence in shaping his ideologies.

In 1813, Schopenhauer received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Jena.

In 1816, Schopenhauer published his most remarkable and highly applauded work, titled ”The World as Will and Representation”, which has influenced economic thought for centuries.

In March 1820, after a lengthy first tour of Italy and a triumphant dispute with Hegel, he qualified to lecture at the University of Berlin. Though he remained a member of the university for 24 semesters, only his first lecture was actually held; for he had scheduled (and continued to schedule) his lectures at the same hour when Hegel lectured to a large and ever-growing audience. Clearly, he could not successfully challenge a persistently advancing philosophy. Even his book received scant attention. For a second time Schopenhauer went on a year-long trip to Italy, and this was followed by a year of illness in Munich. In May 1825 he made one last attempt in Berlin, but in vain. He now occupied himself with secondary works, primarily translations.

 After an unsuccessful period of lectureship in Berlin prior to 1831 he settled in Frankfurt am Main, where he led a solitary life and became deeply involved in the study of Buddhist and Hindu philosophies and mysticism where he seems to have found echoes of the approach to philosophy that he was independently working on.

He published the essay ‘On the Freedom of the Will’ in which he tried to answer the academic question “Is it possible to demonstrate human free will from self-consciousness?” which was posed by the Royal Norwegian Society of Sciences in 1839.

He published a second edition of ”The World as Will and Representation” in 1844. The first was a virtual reprint of the original, and the second was a collection of essays expanding topics covered in the first. The important topics covered in the work were his reflections on death and his theory on sexuality.

He devoted his time to research and reading, and in 1847, he published a revised version of his early works, titled On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason”.

In 1851, he wrote an essay ‘Of Women’ in which he described the women as less reasonable and lacking the capacity to make decisions. In the essay he also referred to women as the “weaker sex”.

Though he enjoyed a robust health, but in 1860 his health began to deteriorate and he died of heart failure on 21 September 1860 while sitting at home on his couch with his cat.

Schopenhauer never married but had a relationship with Caroline Richter, an opera singer, beginning in 1821.

He believed that the actions of all human beings lacked direction and that desire is the root of all evils. According to him, pain and suffering are directly proportional to desire as it creates frustration upon the failure of attaining a particular goal or object.

He was of the opinion that desire never ends which means after achieving something the desire for a new goal creeps in. This is a cycle which continues for an indefinite period..

This great philosopher’s works and teachings inspired a number of philosophers – Richard Wagner, Friedrich Nietzsche, Jorge Luis Borges and to some extent Sigmund Freud.

”Ludwig van Beethoven”

Portrait of Ludwig van Beethoven

Author: Karl Joseph Stieler

Year: 1820

Medium: oil on canvas

Location: Beethoven-Haus


Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany, to Johann van Beethoven (1740-1792), of Flemish origins, and Magdalena Keverich van Beethoven (1744-1787). Until relatively recently 16 December was shown in many reference works as Beethoven’s ‘date of birth’, since we know he was baptised on 17 December and children at that time were generally baptised the day after their birth. However modern scholarship declines to rely on such assumptions.

Beethoven’s first music teacher was his father, who worked as a musician in the Electoral court at Bonn, but was also an alcoholic who beat him and unsuccessfully attempted to exhibit him as a child prodigy. However, Beethoven’s talent was soon noticed by others. He was given instruction and employment by Christian Gottlob Neefe, as well as financial sponsorship by the Prince-Elector. Beethoven’s mother died when he was 17, and for several years he was responsible for raising his two younger brothers.

Beethoven moved to Vienna in 1792, where he studied with Joseph Haydn and other teachers. He quickly established a reputation as a piano virtuoso, and more slowly as a composer. He settled into the career pattern he would follow for the remainder of his life: rather than working for the church or a noble court (as most composers before him had done), he was a freelancer, supporting himself with public performances, sales of his works, and stipends from noblemen who recognized his ability.

Beethoven’s career as a composer is usually divided into Early, Middle, and Late periods.

In the Early period, he is seen as emulating his great predecessors Haydn and Mozart, at the same time exploring new directions and gradually expanding the scope and ambition of his work. Some important pieces from the Early period are the first and second symphonies, the first six string quartets, the first two piano concertos, and about a dozen piano sonatas, including the famous ‘Pathétique’.

The Middle period began shortly after Beethoven’s personal crisis centering around deafness, and is noted for large-scale works expressing heroism and struggle; these include many of the most famous works of classical music. The Middle period works include six symphonies (Nos. 3 – 8), the last three piano concertos and his only violin concerto, six string quartets (Nos. 7 – 11), many piano sonatas (including the ‘Moonlight’, ‘Waldstein’, and ‘Appassionata’), and Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio.

Beethoven’s Late period began around 1816 and lasted until Beethoven ceased to compose in 1826. The late works are greatly admired for their intellectual depth and their intense, highly personal expression. They include the Ninth Symphony (the ‘Choral’), the Missa Solemnis, the last six string quartets and the last five piano sonatas.

Beethoven’s personal life was troubled. Around age 28 he started to become deaf, a calamity which led him for some time to contemplate suicide. He was attracted to unattainable (married or aristocratic) women, whom he idealized; he never married. A period of low productivity from about 1812 to 1816 is thought by some scholars to have been the result of depression, resulting from Beethoven’s realization that he would never marry. Beethoven quarreled, often bitterly, with his relatives and others, and frequently behaved badly to other people. He moved often from dwelling to dwelling, and had strange personal habits such as wearing filthy clothing while washing compulsively. He often had financial troubles.

It is common for listeners to perceive an echo of Beethoven’s life in his music, which often depicts struggle followed by triumph. This description is often applied to Beethoven’s creation of masterpieces in the face of his severe personal difficulties.

Beethoven was often in poor health, and in 1826 his health took a drastic turn for the worse. His death in the following year is usually attributed to liver disease.


”Leonidas, the legendary King of Sparta”

Leonidas (540-480 BC), the legendary king of Sparta, and the Battle of Thermopylae is one of the most brilliant events of the ancient Greek history, a great act of courage and self-sacrifice. This man and the battle itself has inspired since then many artists, poets and film-makers that hymn the spirit of him and his Spartans.

Little is known about the life of Leonidas before the Battle of Thermopylae. Historians believe that he was born around 540 BC and the he was son of King Anaxandrias II of Sparta, a descendant of Hercules, according to the myth. Leonidas was married to Gorgo and had a son. He must have succeeded his half-brother to the throne at around 488 BC, till his death in 480 BC. His name meant either the son of a lion or like a lion.

In summer of 480 BC, Xerxes, the king of Persia, was attacking Greece with a big and well-equiped army. As he had already conquered northern Greece and he was coming to the south, the Greeks decided to unite and confront him in Thermopylae, a narrow passage in central Greece. Leonidas and his army, 300 soldiers, went off to Thermopylae to join the other Greek armies. The Greeks altogether were about 4,000 soldiers, while the Persian army consisted of 80,000 soldiers.

Xerxes waited for 4 days before he attacked, believing that the Greeks would surrender. When Xerxes sent his heralds to the Greeks, asking for their weapons, as a sign of submission, Leonidas said the historical phrase Come and get them!, declaring the beginning of the battle.

The first days, the Greeks were resisting, until a local man, Ephialtes, revealed to the Persians a secret passage to circle the Greeks and win the battle. Seeing that the Persian army were about to circle them, Leonidas asked the other Greeks to leave the battlefield. He proposed that he and his army would stay back to cover their escape, while the other Greeks would leave to protect the rest of Greece from a future Persian invasion.

Therefore, Leonidas with his 300 Spartans and 700 Thespians, who refused to leave, stayed back to fight the huge Persian army. They were all killed in the battlefield, in this deathtrap, protecting theie homeland and their values. After all, it was disgraceful for a Spartan to return to Sparta beaten in war. A Spartan would either return from war as a winner, or he should not return at all.

Today, a modern monument lies on the site of the battle in Thermopylae to remind of this courageous action, while the tomb of this legendary king lies in his homeland, Sparta.


”Leonardo da Vinci”

( This self portait was painted in 1512 using red chalk, when Leonardo da Vinci was 50 and living in France  )

[ Biography ]

Leonardo was born on April 15, 1452, in the town of Vinci. His father was Ser Piero, a notary; his mother, Caterina, came of a peasant family. They were not married. The boy’s uncle Francesco may have had more of a hand in his upbringing than by either of his parents. When Leonardo was about 15, he moved to the nearby city of Florence and became an apprentice to the artist Andrea del Verrocchio. He was already a promising talent. While at the studio, he aided his master with his Baptism of Christ, and eventually painted his own Annunciation. Around the age of 30, Leonardo began his own practice, starting work on the Adoration of the Magi; however, he soon abandoned it and moved to Milan in 1482.

In Milan, Leonardo sought and gained the patronage of Ludovico Sforza, and soon began work on the painting Virgin of the Rocks. After some years, he began work on a giant bronze horse, a monument to Sforza’s father. Leonardo’s design is grand, but the statue was never completed. Meanwhile, he was keeping scrupulous notebooks on a number of studies, including artistic drawings but also depictions of scientific subjects ranging from anatomy to hydraulics. In 1490, he took a young boy, Salai, into his household, and in 1493 a woman named Caterina (most likely his mother) also came to live with him; she died a few years later. Around 1495, Leonardo began his painting The Last Supper, which achieved immense success but began to deteriorate physically almost immediately upon completion. Around this same time, Fra Luca Pacioli, the famous mathematician, moved to Milan, befriended Leonardo, and taught him higher math. In 1499, when the French conquered Lombard and Milan, the two left the city together, heading for Mantua.

In 1500, Leonardo arrived in Florence, where he painted the Virgin and Child with Saint Anne. He was very interested in mathematics at this time. In 1502, he went to work as chief military engineer to Cesare Borgia, and also became acquainted with Niccolo Machiavelli. After a year he returned to Florence, where he contributed to the huge engineering project of diverting the course of the River Arno, and also painted a giant war mural, the Battle of Anghiari, which was never completed, largely due to problems with the paints. In 1505 Leonardo probably made his first sketches for the Mona Lisa, but it is not known when he completed the painting.

In 1506, Leonardo traveled to Milan at the summons of Charles d’Amboise, the French governor. He became court painter and engineer to Louis XII and worked on a second version of the Virgin of the Rocks. In 1507, he returned to Florence to engage in a legal battle against his brothers for their uncle Francesco’s inheritance. In this same year, he took the young aristocratic Melzi as an assistant, and for the rest of the decade he intensified his studies of anatomy and hydraulics. In 1513, he moved to Rome, where Leo X reigned as pope. There, he worked on mirrors, and probably the above self- portrait. In 1516, he left Italy for France, joining King Francis I in Amboise, whom he served as a wise philosopher for three years before his death in 1519.

[SOURCE: sparknotes.com]

” Vincent van Gogh ”

Self-Portrait by Vincent van Gogh

Year: 1889

Media: oil, canvas

Location: Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France

[ Vincent van Gogh Biography ]

Vincent van Gogh (March 30, 1853 – July 29, 1890) was born on 30 March 1853 in Zundert, a village in the southern province of North Brabant. He was the eldest son of the Reverend Theodorus van Gogh (1822 – 1885) and Anna Cornelia Carbentus (1819 – 1907), whose other children were Vincent’s sisters Elisabeth, Anna, and Wil, and his brother Theo and Cor. Little is known about Vincent’s early years other than that he was a quiet child with no obvious artistic talent. He himself would later look back on his happy childhood with great pleasure.

At age 16 Vincent started to work for the art dealer Goupil & Co. in The Hague. His four years younger brother Theo, with whom Vincent cherished a life long friendship, would join the company later. This friendship is amply documented in a vast amount of letters they sent each other. These letters have been preserved and were published in 1914. They provide a lot of insight into the life of the painter, and show him to be a talented writer with a keen mind. Theo would support Vincent financially throughout his life.

In 1873, his firm transferred him to London, then to Paris. He became increasingly interested in religion; in 1876 Goupil dismissed him for lack of motivation. He became a teaching assistant in Ramsgate near London, then returned to Amsterdam to study theology in 1877.

After dropping out in 1878, he became a layman preacher in Belgium in a poor mining region known as the Borinage. He even preached down in the mines and was extremely concerned with the lot of the workers. He was dismissed after 6 months and continued without pay. During this period he started to produce charcoal sketches.

In 1880, Vincent van Gogh followed the suggestion of his brother Theo and took up painting in earnest. For a brief period Vincent took painting lessons from Anton Mauve at The Hague. Although Vicent and Anton soon split over divergence of artistic views, influences of the Hague School of painting would remain in Vincents work, notably in the way he played with light and in the looseness of his brush strokes. However his usage of colours, favouring dark tones, set him apart from his teacher.

In 1881 he declared his love to his widowed cousin Kee Vos, who rejected him. Later he would move in with the prostitute Sien Hoornik and her children and considered marrying her; his father was strictly against this relationship and even his brother Theo advised against it. They later separated.

Impressed and influenced by Jean-Francois Millet, van Gogh focussed on painting peasants and rural scenes. He moved to the Dutch province Drenthe, later to Nuenen, North Brabant, also in The Netherlands. Here he painted in 1885.

In the winter of 1885-1886 Van Gogh attended the art academy of Antwerp, Belgium. This proved a disappointment as he was dismissed after a few months by his Professor. Van Gogh did however get in touch with Japanese art during this period, which he started to collect eagerly. He admired its bright colors, use of canvas space and the role lines played in the picture. These impressions would influence him strongly. Van Gogh made some painting in Japanese style. Also some of the portraits he painted are set against a background which shows Japanese art.

In spring 1886 Vincent van Gogh went to Paris, where he moved in with his brother Theo; they shared a house on Montmartre. Here he met the painters met Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro, Bernard, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Paul Gauguin. He discovered impressionism and liked its use of light and color, more than its lack of social engagement (as he saw it). Especially the technique known as pointillism (where many small dots are applied to the canvas that blend into rich colors only in the eye of the beholder, seeing it from a distance) made its mark on Van Goghs own style. It should be noted that Van Gogh is regarded as a post-impressionist, rather than an impressionist.

In 1888, when city life and living with his brothers proved too much, Van Gogh left Paris and went to Arles, Bouches-du-Rh, France. He was impressed with the local landscape and hoped to found an art colony. He decorated a “yellow house” and created a celebrated series of yellow sunflower paintings for this purpose. Only Paul Gauguin, whose simplified colour schemes and forms (known as synthetism) attracted van Gogh, followed his invitation. The admiration was mutual, and Gauguin painted van Gogh painting sunflowers. However their encounter ended in a quarrel. Van Gogh suffered a mental breakdown and cut off part of his left ear, which he gave to a startled prostitute friend. Gauguin left in December 1888.

The only painting he sold during his lifetime, The Red Vineyard, was created in 1888. It is now on display in the Pushkin Museum in Moscow, Russia.

Vincent van Gogh now exchanged painting dots for small stripes. He suffered from depression, and in 1889 on his own request Van Gogh was admitted to the psychiatric center at Monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole in Saint Remy de Provence, Bouches-du-Rh, France. During his stay here the clinic and its garden became his main subject. Pencil strokes changed again, now into spiral curves.

In May 1890 Vincent van Gogh left the clinic and went to the physician Paul Gachet, in Auvers-sur-Oise near Paris, where he was closer to his brother Theo, who had recently married. Gachet had been recommended to him by Pissarro; he had treated several artists before. Here van Gogh created his only etching: a portrait of the melancholic doctor Gachet. His depression aggravated. On July 27 of the same year, at the age of 37, after a fit of painting activity, van Gogh shot himself in the chest. He died two days later, with Theo at his side, who reported his last words as “La tristesse durera toujours” (French: “The sadness will last forever”). He was buried at the cemetery of Auvers-sur-Oise; Theo unable to come to terms with his brother’s death died 6 months later and was buried next to him. It would not take long before his fame grew higher and higher. Large exhibitions were organized soon: Paris 1901, Amsterdam 1905, Cologne 1912, New York 1913 and Berlin 1914.

Vincent van Gogh’s mother threw away quite a number of his paintings during Vincent’s life and even after his death. But she would live long enough to see her son become a world famous painter.

[ Source: https://www.vincent-van-gogh-gallery.org/ ]

” Napoleon ”

Title: Napoleon I in Coronation robes

Author: Anne-Louis Girodet

Year: 1812

Style: Neoclassicism, Romanticism

Genre: portrait

[ Napoleon Biography ]

Napoleon Bonaparte, French emperor, was one of the greatest military leaders in history. He helped remake the map of Europe and established many government and legal reforms, but constant battles eventually led to his downfall.

Early years

Napoleon Bonaparte was born on August 15, 1769, in the Corsican city of Ajaccio. He was the fourth of eleven children of Carlo Buonaparte and Letizia Romolino. His father, a member of a noble Italian family, remained on good terms with the French when they took over control of Corsica.

Napoleon began his education at a boys’ school in Ajaccio. Then, at age ten, he was allowed to enter French military schools for aristocrats and was sent in 1779, with his older brother Joseph, to the College of Autun in Burgundy, France. Napoleon later transferred to the College of Brienne, another French military school. While at school in France, he was made fun of by the other students for his lower social standing and because he spoke Spanish and did not know French well. His small size earned him the nickname of the “Little Corporal.” Despite this teasing, Napoleon received an excellent education. When his father died, Napoleon led his household.

By 1785 Napoleon was a second lieutenant in the French army, but he often returned to Corsica. In 1792 he took part in a power struggle between forces supporting Pasquale Paoli (1725–1807), a leader in the fight for Corsican independence, and those supporting the French. After Paoli was victorious, he turned against Napoleon and the Bonaparte family, forcing them to flee back to France. Napoleon then turned his attention to a career in the army there. The French Revolution (1789–93), a movement to overthrow King Louis XVI (1754–1793) and establish a republic, had begun. Upon his return from Corsica in 1793, Napoleon made a name for himself and won a promotion by helping to defeat the British at Toulon and regain that territory for France.

Military successes

After being imprisoned for ten days on suspicion of treason and refusing assignment to lead the Army of the West, Napoleon was assigned to work for the map department of the French war office. His military career nearly ended, but when forces loyal to the king attempted to regain power in Paris in 1795, Napoleon was called in to stop the uprising. As a reward he was appointed commander of the Army of the Interior. Later that year Napoleon met Josephine de Beauharnais (1763–1814), and they were married in March 1796. Within a few days Napoleon left Josephine in Paris and started his new command of the Army of Italy. Soon the French troops were winning battle after battle against the Italians and Austrians. Napoleon advanced on Vienna, Austria, and engineered the signing of a treaty that gave France control of Italy.

Napoleon returned to Paris a hero, and he soon decided to invade Egypt. He sailed from Toulon, France, in May 1798 with an army of thirty-five thousand men. With only a few losses, all of lower Egypt came under Napoleon’s control. He set about reorganizing the government, the postal service, and the system for collecting taxes. He also helped build new hospitals for the poor. However, at this time a group of countries had banded together to oppose France. Austrian and Russian forces had regained control of almost all of Italy. Then, in August 1798, the British destroyed French ships in the Battle of the Nile, leaving the French army cut off from its homeland. Napoleon left the army under the command of General Jean Kléber and returned to France with a handful of officers.

Leadership of France

Landing at Fréjus, France, in October 1799, Napoleon went directly to Paris, where he helped overthrow the Directory, a five-man executive body that had replaced the king. Napoleon was named first consul, or head of the government, and he received almost unlimited powers. After Austria and England ignored his calls for peace, he led an army into Italy and defeated the Austrians in the Battle of Marengo (1800). This brought Italy back under French control. The Treaty of Amiens in March 1802 ended the war with England for the time being. Napoleon also restored harmony between the Roman Catholic Church and the French government. He improved conditions within France as well by, among other things, establishing the Bank of France, reorganizing education, and reforming France’s legal system with a new set of laws known as the Code Napoleon.

By 1802 the popular Napoleon was given the position of first consul for life, with the right to name his replacement. In 1804 he had his title changed to emperor. War resumed after a new coalition was formed against France. In 1805 the British destroyed French naval power in the Battle of Trafalgar. Napoleon, however, was able to defeat Russia and Austria in the Battle of Austerlitz. In 1806 Napoleon’s forces destroyed the Prussian army; after the Russians came to the aid of Prussia and were defeated themselves, Alexander I (1777–1825) of Russia made peace at Tilsit in June 1807. Napoleon was now free to reorganize western and central Europe as he pleased. After Sweden was defeated in 1808 with Russia’s help, only England remained to oppose Napoleon.

Napoleon was unable to invade England because of its superior naval forces. He decided to introduce the Continental System, a blockade designed to close all the ports of Europe to British trade. He hoped this would force the British to make peace on French terms. In Spain in 1808 the Peninsular War broke out over Spanish opposition to the placement of Napoleon’s brother Joseph on the throne. The English helped Spain in this battle, which kept French troops occupied until 1814. In addition, Alexander I’s decision to end Russia’s cooperation with the Continental System led Napoleon to launch an invasion of that country in 1812. Lack of supplies, cold weather, and disease led to the deaths of five hundred thousand of Napoleon’s troops.

Fall from glory

Napoleon had his marriage to Josephine dissolved and then, in March 1810, he married Marie Louise, the daughter of Emperor Francis II of Austria. Despite this union, Austria declared war on him in 1813. In March 1814 Paris fell to a coalition made up of Britain, Prussia, Sweden, and Austria. Napoleon stepped down in April. Louis XVIII (1755–1824), the brother of Louis XVI, was placed on the French throne. Napoleon was exiled to the island of Elba, but after ten months he made plans to return to power. He landed in southern France in February 1815 with 1,050 soldiers and marched to Paris, where he reinstated himself to power. Louis XVIII fled, and Napoleon’s new reign began. The other European powers gathered to oppose him, and Napoleon was forced to return to war.

The Battle of Waterloo was over within a week. On June 18, 1815, the combined British and Prussian armies defeated Napoleon. He returned to Paris and stepped down for a second time on June 22. He had held power for exactly one hundred days. Napoleon at first planned to go to America, but he surrendered to the British on July 3. He was sent into exile on the island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean. There he spent his remaining years until he died of cancer on May 5, 1821.

SOURCE https://www.notablebiographies.com

”Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart”

Title: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Author: Barbara Krafft

Year: 1819

“Music is my life and my life is music. Anyone who does not understand this is not worthy of God.”

– Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Mozart Biography

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (27 January 1756–5 December 1791) was one of the most influential, popular and prolific composers of the classical period.

Mozart was born in Salzburg to a musical family. From an early age, the young Mozart showed all the signs of a prodigious musical talent. By the age of five, he could read and write music, and he would entertain people with his talents on the keyboard. By the age of six, he was writing his first compositions. Mozart was generally considered to be a rare musical genius, although he was also diligent in studying other great composers such as Haydn and Bach. During his childhood, he would frequently tour various palaces around Europe playing for distinguished guests.

He created twenty-four operas including such famous works as “The Magic Flute”, “Don Giovanni” and “The Marriage of Figaro”, seventeen masses and over fifty symphonies. Mozart’s work, however, extended to all styles and types of music. He knew how to blend traditional and contemporary elements to create his own distinctive style, which is characterized by thematic and tonal variety, melded with a high degree of formal discipline. Mozart’s compositions live from their melodic, rhythmic and dynamic contrasts.

In 1791, on the 5th of December, Mozart died at the age of 35. However, the cause of his death still remains vague and researchers have listed at least 118 probable causes of his death. Legacy Though Mozart lived only for 35 years, Mozart’s legacy is unparalleled. With almost 600 musical pieces, Mozart’s influence reigns supreme in all the genres of music ranging from symphonies, concertos, operas, chamber music to piano solo. He is undoubtedly one of the greatest musicians ever, if not the greatest.

Source: biographyonline.net


470-399 B.C.

“I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance.” – Socrates

Socrates was a Greek philosopher and teacher and one of the most original, influential and CONTROVERSIAL people in ancient Greek philosophy and Western ideas.

Socrates would LISTEN, ASK QUESTIONS, CRITICIZE and CHALLENGE ANSWERS. He asked probing questions that would untimately lead to the truth. This became known as the “SOCRATIC METHOD.”

Socrates was born in Athens, Greece in about 470 B.C. Socrates studied sculpture, but soon quit to “SEEK TRUTH” in his own way. He sought to uncover the nature of virtue and to find a rule of life.  Socrates did not write any books or papers. His life is preserved in “Memorabilia” of the historian Xenophon and in Plato’s “Socratic Dialogues.”

Socrates began questioning Athenians thinking and their democratic system, which caused hostility to rise. He was a master at exposing FRAUDS and LIARS, which made him numerous enemies.  He taught the young to reject the morals accepted by Athenian society, due to their weak reasoning behind people’s moral beliefs.

The Socratic Method consisted of asking questions like “What is life?” of people who were confident in their answers, and then little by little EXPOSING THEIR HYPOCRISIES, IGNORANCES and CONTRADICTIONS. Socrates was famous for saying HE KNOWS NOTHING, except for the fact that HE KNOWS NOTHING.

At the age of 70, Socrates was brought to trial and charged with: “not believing in the gods the state believes in, and introducing different new divine powers; and also for corrupting the young.” Socrates was convicted by the COUNCIL of 500 and was offered an alternative to death by paying a fine, but refused it. SOCRATES was therefore sentenced to DEATH BY DRINKING HEMLOCK. 

Socrates most famous philosophy was the necessity to DO WHAT ONE THINKS IS RIGHT EVEN WHEN ONE IS AGAINST UNIVERSAL OPPOSITION .

” Caesar ”

Title: Caesar

Author: Adolphe Yvon

Year: 1875


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.

” Galileo Galilei ”

Title : Portrait of Galileo Galilei

Author: Justus Sustermans

Year: 1636

Medium: oil on canvas


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:

  1. Saturn had a beautiful ring of clouds.
  2. The moon was not flat but had mountains and craters.
  3. 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.