Last night, I have finished pouring over Rick Riordan’s The Mark of Athena. As the third installment of The Heroes of Olympus (Series 2 of The Olympians series with Percy Jackson), the novel focused on the quest the seven demigods from two camps (Roman and Greek) must complete and achieve. In the story, the Mark is a coin of an owl, an animal sacred to the goddess of wisdom, art, war, justice, and skill. The Greek daughter of Athena must go on a solo quest to accomplish something that generations of the goddess’ children failed to do. Guided by the new prophecy, the teens sailed for their quest:
“Wisdom’s daughter walks alone,
The Mark of Athena burns through Rome.
Twins snuff out the angel’s breath,
Who holds the key to endless death.
Giants’ bane stands gold and pale,
Won through pain from a woven jail.”
As I read the book, I found myself thinking about what happened during the Greek and Roman times. In the book, a work of fiction, yes, the Greeks accused the Romans of stealing most of the Greeks’ great and influential ideas, discoveries, and inventions and claimed them as theirs. There was even a part there where Archimedes’ stolen scrolls containing important illustrations and diagrams of his inventions and studies were found under a Roman tunnel. In the story, Romans apparently relied on the Greek’s ideas and tried to copy them.
Sorry for the Romans, but I do agree that the Greeks are a classical lot who thought much ahead of their time. Until today, their ideas still inspire and guide modern thinkers. The ancient Greek philosophy influenced much of our modern philosophers since the time of its inception. May it be about political philosophy, logic, biology, ethics; the Greeks liberated our imagination and opened our minds with their creative yet possible ideas. More importantly, they taught us how to reason. And that what philosophy is about.
So for today’s theme, I choose an art piece connected with this. Italian renaissance artist, Raphael, painted one of the most famous frescoes in the world: The School of Athens.
Also known as Scuola di Atene, the painting depicts almost all of the branches of knowledge. Many have suggested that those personalities found in the art piece are the great Greek philosophers of all time, in different schools of thought.
1: Zeno of Citium 2: Epicurus 3: unknown 4: Boethius or Anaximander or Empedocles? 5: Averroes 6: Pythagoras 7: Alcibiades or Alexander the Great? 8: Antisthenes or Xenophon or Timon? 9: Uncertain, Fornarina as a personification of Love or Francesco Maria della Rovere? 10: Aeschines or Xenophon? 11: Parmenides? 12: Socrates 13: Heraclitus (Michelangelo) 14: Plato (Leonardo da Vinci) 15: Aristotle 16: Diogenes 17: Plotinus (Donatello?) 18: Euclid or Archimedes with students (Bramante?) 19: Zoroaster 20: Ptolemy? R: Apelles (Raphael) 21: Protogenes (Il Sodoma, Perugino, or Timoteo Viti)
Now why do I like this? One, the masterpiece shows how even then, man wanted to let of his ignorance and instead learned how to think. Two, they helped us be brought to a level of consciousness and understanding of concepts and theories about life. Third, they taught us how to reason. And fourth, they inspired us to use our imagination and let creative ideas take over.
Do you like philosophy? If yes, who’s your favorite philosopher?