(b. 1444, Fermignano, d. 1514, Roma)
Heraclitus and Democritus1477
Fresco transferred to canvas
Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan
Democritus (c. 460 - c. 370 B.C.) and Heraclitus (c. 540 - c. 475 B.C.) are known as the 'laughing and crying philosophers.'
Democritus, a Greek philosopher, born at Abdera in Thrace, was known as the laughing philosopher because he found amusement in the folly of mankind. (The citizens of Abdera were proverbially stupid.) His philosophic system was contrasted with that of the earlier Heraclitus of Ephesus, who was known as the 'Dark' or 'Obscure' and was reputed to be melancholic. They were linked as a contrasting pair by Seneca, by Juvenal and others. Florentine humanists, to whom such classical texts were well-known used the pair to support the view that a cheerful demeanour was proper to a philosopher.
The two philosophers are widely represented in European painting of the Renaissance and Baroque period, either in one picture or as companion pieces. Bramante represents Democritus with his attribute, the terrestrial globe.