Guide Interpretations of Renaissance Humanism

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The authors of the articles in this volume may have attended other authors oral presentations but have not seen the papers in written form.

Italian Renaissance Art - Humanism

It is my intention that these articles stand on their own; consequently, I have made no attempt to cross-reference them. However, though conceptually dierent, their essays share some important methodological criteria. Consequently, it has been possible to gather them into three parts. Part One considers Renaissance humanism as a movement: its origin, its association with and evolution in the papal court, and it relationship to the medieval encyclopedic tradition; Part Two addresses some of its principal aspects: its denition vis--vis Scholasticism, its religious orientations, its rhetorical form, and its literary expressions; and Part Three treats chronologically three of its major agents: Petrarch, Poliziano, and Marcello Adriani.

To be sure, the studies included here do not exhaust the present-day scholars extensive and multifaceted interpretation of Renaissance humanism. Nevertheless, by virtue of their approaching humanistic culture from dierent vantage points and by their studying in depth some of its key features, they provide a valuable assessment of the state of contemporary scholarship in the area of Renaissance humanism.

They are, therefore, of value to those scholars who wish to explore this pivotal cultural movement.

A. The Classical and Medieval Antecedents of Humanism

Witt Paul Oscar Kristellers now classic identication of Renaissance Italian humanists as heirs of the medieval dictatores requires little elaboration. His was a salutary eort to counter the earlier tendency to speak of humanism as an intellectual movement detached from the social and political world in which it developed. He did this by dening the humanists according to their professional roles within their society. He argued that humanists usually worked as teachers of rhetoric and grammar or served as notaries and lawyers in princely and communal chanceries.

Primarily concerned as were their predecessors with the art of letter writing and the composition and delivery of speeches, the humanists diered from their medieval counterparts in relying on models drawn from classical texts. In terms of Kristellers intellectual biography, his thesis that the humanists were essentially rhetoricians was articulated in response to Richard McKeons article, Renaissance and Method in Philosophy, in the third volume of Studies in the History of Ideas In a lecture given at Connecticut College in and subsequently published as Humanism and Scholasticism in the Italian Renaissance, Kristeller opposed McKeons insistence on a continuing tension between the two orientations by dening humanists as professional rhetoricians with a.

The article was subsequently revised and was most recently published in Renaissance Thought and Its Sources, ed. Mooney New York, , pp. Hardison and John OMalley. What survives of his Latin prose is in medieval ars dictaminis. Indeed, humanists expressed themselves only in poetry until Mussato began to classicize prose in his historical writing in Even then humanists used classicizing style only in their private writings. A humanist like Salutati might work as a dictator using medieval ars dictaminis for the genres distinctive of rhetoric, that is, oration and public letters, but he employed classicizing Latin in his private 3 Humanism and Scholasticism, p.

In the revised essay the statement is found on p. Kristeller refers to the McKeon article, p. The note numbered 22a has the appearance of having been added after the article had already been submitted.

In the revised edition, p. Apparently understanding McKeon to be presenting northern humanism as grammatical and Italian humanism as rhetorical, Kristeller responded by pointing out that Roberto Weiss had shown pre-Petrarchan Italian humanism to have had a grammatical character. In his revised note Kristeller refers to Roberto Weiss, The Dawn of Humanism London, ; idem, Lineamenti per una storia del primo umanesimo orentino, Rivista storica italiana 60 , ; and idem, Il primo secolo dellumanesimo Rome, He revises the statement somewhat in the reorganized version of the essay, Humanism and Scholasticism, p.

OMalleys article of had been prepared years prior to publication. At the same time Kristellers idea of dening the humanists by looking at the professional role they played in society is a useful way of explaining, at least in part, the origins of humanism, and I would like to use this approach in the rest of the paper.

Elsewhere I have characterized early Italian humanism as a response to an ongoing crisis in communal political and moral life. Especially the medieval constellation of political values centered on personal bonds of command and obedience proved ruinous in an urban setting. Although disruption of urban life could not but aect the local clerical community, laymen were even more directly concerned.

At least lay intellectuals took the initiative in seeking to construct a new morality centered on civic responsibility. My sense, however, is that in the course of the thirteenth century, given the increasing importance of communal government in urban society, clerical status for those not intending to rise in the ecclesiastical hierarchy became in general less attractive because, at least in theory, they were excluded from participating actively in political life.

Although by law in thirteenth-century Bologna clerics were prohibited by the guilds rules from becoming notaries, a few, primarily in the rst half of the century, can be identied in the matriculation rolls. Indicative of the small number of married lower clergy is that of the more than names of men joining the notarial guild of Bologna in the thirteenth century, only one is listed whose father was of the lower clergy: Liber sive matricula notariorum communis Bononie , eds.

Ferrara and V. Valentini Rome, , p. At the same time, six notaries are listed as having priests for fathers: Albertus presbiteri Iohannis de Arellata, Nascibene presbiteri Gerardi de Fossule, Amodeus lius presbiteri Iohannis Sancti Columbani, Bonandus presbiteri Iohannis de Crepalcorio, Iohannes lius olim Bonandi presbiteri de Crepalcorio, Bonando apparently became a priest to take over his fathers parish.

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Interpretations Of Renaissance Humanism

Guido presbiteri Petri de Carviglano, The chronological order of these registrations suggests a declining number of children of priests. At the same time the total number is exceedingly small when compared with the total of notaries registered. It is dicult to know what to make of the listing Oddo lius Rubini archiepiscopi, There are three cases in which the word presbyter is probably a proper name:.

It must be added that the early humanist attempt to capture the moral thought of antiquity in classicizing Latin constituted only one response, an elitist one, to the moral crisis of Italy in the thirteenth century. Already a generation before Lovato, Albertano da Brescia d. Like both these popularizers of a new morality, Lovato, the founder of Italian humanism, was a layman and a notary dedicated to republican politics.

Like Lovato, Mussato was a notary and also a leader in communal politics, ultimately suering exile for his defense of Paduas republican liberty. We do not know if Lovato was a professional teacher of grammar, but Mussato earned at least a portion of his livelihood from teaching poetry in the Paduan Studium. Indeed, the typical teacher of grammar in Padua was a layman and also a notary. Professor of grammar and rhetoric, Arsegino seems to have studied at Bologna before when in his rst appearance in a Paduan document he is given the title magister. Albertus Presbiteri de Montesevero, Ugolinus quondam domini Ugolini Presbiteri de cappella Sancti Ambroxii, For Mussatos teaching in the Studium, see ibid.

Gli studi nellUniversit e nei conventi di Padova nei secoli xiii e xiv, ed. Pesenti Trieste, , Although it is only recorded that they taught school, two other Paduan notaries were in all probability teaching grammar in these same years. His listing as a member of the Council is given by Marangon, Scuole e universit a Padova dal al , Ad cognitionem scientiae festinare, p. Magister Luchesius olim Johannis Caurete , identied by Rolandino eight years later as professor in grammatica et rhetorica, is also recorded here, but again without any indication of whether he was a layman or a cleric.

Polizzi, Rolandinus Paduanus professor gramatice facultatis, Quaderni per la storia dellUniversit di Padova 17 , , adds details on his notarial career. Gloria, Monumenti dellUniversit di Padova, p. From a signature in a notarial document by his grandson we know that the family name of magister Paduano was Piombioli: Tadeus dictus Principus de Plumbiolis q.

Article Summary

Consequently, I conclude that the educational and political situation of Padua contributed to the precocious appearance of humanism in that city. Admittedly the close connection between the notariate, politics, and teaching grammar was probably not uncommon in other communes of northern and central Italy in the thirteenth century. As far as can be judged from the fragmentary evidence, however, no other city except Bologna oered the concentration of grammatical studies available in Padua.

The renown of Bologna as the educational center of Italy attracted not only students from all over Italy and from abroad but also teachers. As in Padua, the educational establishment, with the exception of teachers of canon law, was controlled by laymen, but unlike Padua, because a multitude of private schools of grammar and rhetoric ourished in the city, the commune had no need to support six professors of rhetoric and grammar in the Studium concurrently.

My analysis, however, will show that the intimate tie between grammarian, notarial activity, and communal government, vital to the development of humanism in Padua, did not exist in Bologna.


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Otherwise one might wonder why the new intellectual, literary movement did not begin in Bologna, the site of Italys greatest university and the cultural dynamo of Italy in the century between and Unlike a number of other Italian cities, Bologna had not had an important cathedral school in the tenth and eleventh centuries.

The schools of Roman law that began to ourish in the city after were apparently all private schools and most teaching of canon law was also done in the same way. Grammar was dignied by a chair or chairs in the Bolognese Studium at least as early as , and probably several decades earlier. The elevation of grammar to a university subject along with Roman and canon law was largely due to the introduction of French grammatical theories in Bologna in the last decades of the twelfth century, which enhanced the academic status of grammar by making it a theoretical discipline.

But the intensely competitive market for education increasingly favored specialization so that whereas throughout the thirteenth century in smaller educational markets like Padua grammar and rhetoric continued to be taught interchangeably,. Tradizione e innovazione nella scuola dei Glossatori Modena, , pp. Against Santinis claim that Albertus de S. Marino formed part of the cathedral chapter of Modena, see Corrado Ricci, I primordi dello studio bolognese.

Nota storica Bologna, , p. His son is also listed with him in Giorgio Cencetti, Studium fuit Bolognae, Studi medievali, 3rd ser. I discuss the stunted growth of logic in Italy in the twelfth century in my In the Footsteps of the Ancients, p. Lucia Calboli Montefusco, 5 Rome, , pp. Because their courses taught basic skills of communication needed by the broad range of semi-Latin-literate, rhetoricians in Bologna had no need of a place in the Studium to attract students.

Knowledge of dictamen was easily in reach of those having only minimal training in grammar. Perfection of ones technique, of course, required much experience.