When Raphael went to Rome in 1508, Pope Julius II immediately commissioned him to paint the walls of his Vatican apartments. The first room Raphael decorated was the Stanza della Segnatura, named after the highest papal tribunal. Raphael set out to paint the ideals of Julius's reign, one on each wall. The Disputa was a representation of contemporary theological concerns, while the opposite wall symbolised secular learning in the The School of Athens.
The two central figures are Plato and Aristotle, surrounded by scores of ancient philosophers and scholars. Raphael gave many of the figures the physical characteristics of the great men in his day. Fittingly, in the sky over the central arch, Raphael painted the unfinished basilica of St. Peter's, as yet uncapped by the great dome that Michelangelo would later design.