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Writers in the Renaissance
Transcript of Writers in the Renaissance
Writers in the Renaissance
Literary Precursors to the Renaissance
Dante was the first writer to popularize Italian writing. Formerly, all intellectual works were written in Latin and were thus only interpreted by a select elite. Through Dante's works (such as "The Divine Comedy" ) the common Italian became familiar with the ideas of the Renaissance.
Petrarch was a Florentine poet who rediscovered classical texts in lieu of Ancient Roman ruins. He is considered the "Father of Humanism" because he set the stage for early classical learning. He was encouraged by the invention of the printing press to foster the new age of development and Renaissance in Italy.
Petrarch paved way for a "liberal arts" education that included not only medieval teachings, but also an emphasis in history, literature, math, and science. While Petrarch represented the epitome of Renaissance humanism, he was also a devout Christian, thus debunking the myth that the Renaissance was irreligious or pagan.
Dutch humanist that epitomized the Renaissance in Northern Europe
Represents a synthesis of Christian piety and humanist studies
At age 7, he became an orphan and was driven into monastic life, exposing him to the inner corruptions of the Church
Refused to return the Church, and instead, devoted his life to studying the classics
Role of Christianity
The Literary Ideas of the Renaissance
Led an active political life as a diplomat in Florence from 1498 to 1512, under Piero Soderini's government
1512: Spanish troops invade Florence; Florence surrenders and the Medici return to power
1513: Machiavelli is tortured and put in exile
After he is released later that year, he writes The Prince
Created an era of the High Renaissance that is classified as the "Age of Machiavelli"
Describes an ideal ruler, for a single powerful prince is needed to drive out barbarian and foreign invaders from Italy
Emphasizes realism and pragmatism over idealism
Written during the invasion of Italy and its occupation by foreign powers
So, Machiavelli endorsed the citizen and militia armies calling for a republican government towards a free and united Italy
Believed that armed forces were necessary to control the public, but distrusted hired soldiers, or mercenaries, because they were unreliable
Prince must be both a lion and a fox
Lion has to be courageous and ferocious
Fox has to be ruthless and cunning
Provides a secular view of the role of government
Government needs to protect the people and maintain order and security of state, instead of imposing morality and Christian doctrines
Popes and cardinals banned The Prince
The Prince served as a political guide for monarchs and popes alike
Link to Humanism --> based on lessons from history -- ideal rulers from the classical times were used as examples to be imitated in order to establish a stable, powerful state
Raised questions like: Is the King above or below the law? What is the King's role in the religious sphere of society?
Narrator is the goddess Folly (who symbolized "ignorance")
Satire that mocked mankind as well as the corruption of the Renaissance princes, monks, cardinals, and popes within the Church
Called for a pure form of Christianity
Denounced theological reasoning and logic outlined by the sacraments and doctrines of the Church (scholasticism)
Instead, he urged people to form a personal, individual connection with God through intuition and genuine faith in God
Though banned by the Church, "In Praise of Folly" became very popular and quickly circulated throughout Europe in many different languages
His criticisms eventually paved way for reform and the Protestant Reformation
Ironically shattered the unity of Western Christendom that he had so sought after and idealized
Roots of the Protestant Reformation
"In Praise of Folly"
"The Book of the Courtier"
-Italian writer and diplomat
-Born in Casatico, on December 6th 1478
-Son of a noble family
-In 1490 he was sent to Milan to pursue humanistic studies.
-He returned to Mantua in 1499 due to his fathers death
-In Mantua, he began a military and diplomatic career, serving the Duke of Urbino
-Castiglione was posted to Spain as papal nuncio (ambassador) in 1525 and apparently impressed Emperor Charles V as a perfect gentleman
-Died in Toledo of plague fevers on February 2nd 1529.
-The book outlines the Dos and Don'ts of society in those days and the how to act gracefully in social situations
-It freely imitates the work of ancient writers such as Plato and Cicero
-Raises philosophical questions like "Does a courtier need to be of noble birth?", although most readers paid closer attention to the social etiquette and jokes
-The book is semi-autobiographical, some conversations that are in the book are from his days when he worked at the court of Urbino
-The Courtier "Il cortegiano" was a great publishing success by the standards of the time, and in the years after its publication, it was translated into many languages
Though Erasmus had criticized the Church, he had not challenged papal authority
He was a "critic and revivalist rather than a revolutionary" (Rumsey 134)
He fundamentally disagreed with Luther, for Luther seemed to invite violence and war
Threatens his idea of unified Western Christendom and peace under God
Attacked by the Catholics for planting the seed of discord in Luther, and by Lutherans for being a "hypocrite"
Reintroduction of Roman ideas
Social structure and expectations
"liberal arts" education
Philosophy and the arts
Ancient texts recovered from important thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle, etc
Leads to humanism
Printing press spreads literacy, which, in turn, invites a new set of criticisms to ancient and current philosophies through easier dissection of texts
Engendered a spirit of questioning
By learning Latin and Greek, one could acquire wisdom without the clergy or university --> hence, fueled individuality of man
Celebrated individuality of man, but within the context of Christianity
Christianity continued to play a big role in the lives of people even during the Renaissance
Renaissance was a "religious movement, not a secular one" (McKay)
Both Christian humanists AND Italian humanists explored the relationship between God and humanity
Religion was a driving force in humanists' interest in the classical antiquity
Trying to rediscover the origins of Christianity, as Christianity had come from the ancient classical world
Humanists placed religious connections and meanings to the pagan classic texts (ex: Dante)
Renaissance humanists rejected medieval Scholasticism but not Christianity or the Church itself
"The Book of the Courtier" officially assigns gender roles
Men are seen as strong and invincible, they are the prominent bread-winners in the family
Women are delicate and fragile, a hostess and entertainer
Must have a "discreet modesty"
Advocates for women's education, although still extremely restricted
A guideline for the social elite
Castiglione also interprets the social structures in the 15th century
Reflects the ideas of Petrarch through a study of the classical past
Defines behaviors of the Renaissance
Sprezzatura - the impression of effortlessness, emphasizes the nature of the graceful behaviors
Introduces humor through stories and jokes
Stresses the importance of straightforward and honest speaking from the relationship of the courtier and his prince
Defines honorable love
Importance of impressions and "outward appearance"
Transition from medieval Scholasticism - philosophical and theological studies - to Renaissance Humanism, which included the liberal arts (rhetoric, Latin grammar, math, etc.) --> "humanities"
Scholars emphasized the importance of religious texts and philosophic ideologies, whereas humanists focused on the nature of mankind
Humanism provided a different approach to knowledge and culture than Christianity did
Learning the humanities = become an ethical, moral, wise, virtuous, civilized man
Humanists encouraged active participation in the world around them (politics, arts, public policy) instead of withdrawing from it as in the medieval times
By Anna Cho, Cary Beehler, and Ellie Gan