Know Your School of Athens Polymaths: Ptolemy

7:00 AM

Raphael, School of Athens, 1511

What an exquisite back. I'm sure, at some point in time, someone looking to get their artistic weight up said something to that effect while looking at Ptolemy in Raphael's School of Athens. In fact, someone not looking deeply would likely mistake Ptolemy as an extra, one of only a handful of purposeless people in a sea of Super Important People.

Despite this cameo-as-afterthought, Ptolemy is actually just as important as Plato or Diogenes with regards to his contributions to the academic community. Known for his theories on mathematics and astronomy, he was one of the first to publish a book theorizing the distance between the Earth and the other planets. This tome, called the Almagest, was the main point of reference for astronomers and amateur stargazers alike for the next few hundred years. He also published a book called The Geography, which compiled the best and most comprehensive maps of the regions into one (somewhat) concise book.

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