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PORTRAIT OF ZOROASTER IN POPE’S PALACE

PORTRAIT OF ZOROASTER AT THE VATICAN

Zoroaster’s portrait was painted on the wall of Pope Julius II’s (Pontiff from 1503 to 1513) private library by the illustrious painter Raphael when he was at his best, around 27 years old (between 1509 and 1511).
Today, the fresco ‘School of Athens’ stands in the Stanza Della Segnatura (the highest court of the Holy See), the first of the four public reception rooms (Raphael Rooms) in the Apostolic Palace (Pope’s apartment).
Whether the fresco was the Pope’s idea or Raphael’s is not known. It depicts in one frame an idyllic collection of ancient classical intelligences, from different historical periods. A group of greatest mathematicians, philosophers and scientists, assembled in a beautiful space with Roman features, interacting, discussing and sharing and learning from each other; articulating “mental states by physical actions” — Raphael’s vision of the domain of Enlightened Thought.

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Ptolemy (he has his back to us on the lower right), holds a sphere of the earth, next to him is Zoroaster (facing) who holds a celestial sphere.

Neither are all the thinkers Athenians nor was there any visual traditional depiction existing of many of them. For example, the face Leonardo da Vinci was used for Plato and Michelangelo as Heraclitus (the two central figures), Raphael’s own for one of the students crowding Pythagoras. However, whose face was used to represent Zoroaster is not certain.

Experts opine that, Zoroaster, Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Ptolemy, Pythagoras, Euclid, Raphael, Sodoma and  Diogenes can be definitely identified in the fresco. The other figures are “more or less speculative”. Heinrich Wolffin explained that, in the times that the fresco was painted, “The all-important thing was the artistic motive which expressed a physical or spiritual state; and the name of the person was a matter of indifference”.
He further noted, “It is quite wrong to attempt interpretations of the School of Athens as an esoteric treatise …”
Recently, experts interpret the fresco “as an exhortation to philosophy and, in a deeper way, as a visual representation of the role of Love in elevating people toward upper knowledge.”

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12 comments

  1. Zarathustra is the Girst Prophet tonbring about the Concept of ONE GOD! ONE OMNOPOTENT BEING THAT CREATED THE UNIVERSE & Everything in it!! He also Taught Love & Truth Conquers All evil!! Zoroaster was a true Philosopher so HE HAS TO BE AMONGST THE BEST OF THE BEST OUR WORLD HAS CREATED!‼️‼️‼️

  2. He looks nothing like how we are used to perceive Zarthost.

    • Dear Aspi,
      Raphael has used the faces of the great men of his day including his own to represent the philosophers. this is his perception in his painting of how Zarathrustra may have looked. Raphael was born centuries after Zarthushtra passed on.

  3. Astonishing!
    Thanks

  4. The concept of one GOD INITIATED and propagated by Zoroaster .

  5. Someone is circulating this information on WhatsApp, describing this wall fresco as “a portrait that hangs in the Pope’s palace.”
    People will believe anything
    BTW, in your write up have you mentioned the painter Raphael has his self painted in the group conversing with Zoroaster?

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