As most of you know. the painting above is a fresco completed by Raphael in the Vatican papal apartments in 1512. The painting has come to be known as "The School of Athens" since it depicts the great philosophers of Ancient Greece gathered around the steps of a vast soaring Classical temple building in Periclean Athens. At the top of the stairs stand two majestic figures who lord it over the gathering as their real life counterparts did lord it over all the other philosophers of the day. The two men standing there are Plato and Aristotle. And if we add Socrates to the top step, we then have the three men who shaped western philosophy for 2500 years. Plato (Greek: Πλάτων Plátōn) (427-347 BC) was the founder of the Academy, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. He is widely considered the pivotal figure in the history of Ancient Greek and Western philosophy, along with his teacher, Socrates, and his most famous student, Aristotle. Alfred North Whitehead once noted, "The safest general characterization of the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of footnotes to Plato."
The Last Days of Socrates,
Christopher Rowe, Translator,
From Democrats to Kings,
The Overlook Press; 1 edition (September 16, 2010),
Aristotle's Way: How Ancient Wisdom Can Change Your Life,
Socrates: A Man for Our Times,