Know Your School of Athens Philosophers: Diagoras of Melos

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Raphael, School of Athens, 1511

As an ancient day myth-buster, Diagoras of Melos often expressed his detective side by proving many so called religious miracles false. Ultimately he became the first atheist. The humanism and Greek antiquity movement pushed social norms by combining pagan and Catholicism, and similarly, Diagoras of Melos challenged the common Greek Orphic doctrine of his time. Diagoras was on a completely different level. Evidently for him, limits were non-existent, as he cuts up a wooden sculpture of Hercules and throws it into the fire, claiming Hercules' thirteenth labor would be cooking turnips. It was these schemes that led to Diagoras' exile from Athens.

Although Diagoras often contradicted the Greek mythology that Italian humanism came to love, his free-spirited arguments could not be ignored in the quest for truth and knowledge that was the Italian humanism movement. Raphael acknowledges this as he paints Diagoras as a hot mess. It was Diagoras' persistence, courage, and drive that sparked other scholars to think in a new light. Whether right or wrong, Diagoras played the devil's advocate way back in the fifth century.

Do you think Diagoras is a cool guy? You can friend him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/diagorasofmelos

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