This is part of a series of allegorical drawings, of which another example is at Chatsworth, M. Jaffé, The Devonshire Collection of Italian Drawings: Roman and Neapolitan Schools, London, 1994, no. 251. The Chatsworth drawing represents the Academy of Painting with artists studying geometry and perspective, and with Leonardo da Vinci in the background teaching anatomy. The foreground figure in that composition, a kneeling man drawing a star in a circle with a compass, is exactly mirrored in the present drawing. This sheet, of the same proportions as the Chatsworth one, is probably an early study for a more finished drawing depicting the Academy of Philosophers and Poets.
Through comparison with the portraits in Raphael's School of Athens Carmen Roxanne Robbin has recognised the figures of Homer as the crowned man in the background and Socrates as the second figure from the left, Santa Barbara, op. cit., no. 28. The figure on the left might be Plato holding a copy of his Timaeus, which declares that triangles, such as the one drawn by the figure in the foreground, represent the basic elements.
The composition of the drawing is arranged as a sort of disputà among philosophers with the apotheosis of a poet in the background.