Italian Renaissance the Dignity of Humanity Lays Term Paper

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Italian Renaissance

The dignity of humanity lays the foundations for every field of one of the most interesting periods in the history of human kind: the Italian Renaissance. The first who used the term Renaissance was Jules Michelet in 1855 in a history book.Since Jakob Burchardt first wrote an extended study on the period between the second half of the thirteen Century AD and the fifteen Century in Italy, as Renaissance Italy, there were many scholars that came to attack his points-of-view or, at least, claim them as incomplete. In spite of the debates that Burckhardt's book, the Civilization of the Renaissance Italy (1867) may have launched over the years, there is a unanimity when it comes to the subject of the humanism of the Italian Renaissance.

The term of humanism was first explained by a German scholar, Niethammer, and he defined it as an education program apart from the scientific and technological point-of-views. The term "humanism" is quite explicit in itself and it deals with the education based on the study if humanity. Theology was the center point of education when it came to humanistic studies during the middle Ages. Renaissance continued the studies through people that were not scientists or scholars, but writers or men of law at the beginning of the thirteen Century when Petrarca studied, translated and spread the classical literature of the antiquity. Just as those who will follow, Petrarca not only studied and translated the works of Cicero and Quintilian, but he also imitated their style in some of his own writings. Of course, some of Cicero an Quintialin works were known in the middle Ages, too. Petrarca just went much further with the study of their philosophies and transforms them into tolls that changed the educational curriculum. Beside the two classical authors before mentioned, Petrarca also paid attention to another classical writer, Augustine. Augustine's theories had a heavy influence on the Theology of the middle Ages, but Petrarca brought the center of attention on the Augustinian philosophic points-of-view that were dealing with the salvation of man by the study of men and only by the men, as opposed to the middle Ages conceptions that were placing the salvation in the hands of God, regardless of what a human being had the power to do. Beginning with Petrarca's rediscoveries of the classical works, Cicero's handbook on rhetoric, Brutus, became one of the most important studies on this field of the Renaissance. Petrarca also rediscovered the entire works of Quintilian and they became the base of the educational curriculum in the humanism of Italian Renaissance.

The second important person that contributed essentially to the rediscovery, translation and spread of the ancient texts was Coluccio Salutati, a men of law. He built his studies on Petrarca's foundations and was driven by the same aims: rediscovery, translation and making them public. Salutati's actions were led by more practical purposes, like those of finding use of the theories of eloquence, high civic sense of duty and morality that were praised in Cicero's writings, in his contemporary forms of government and education.

At the base of any form of education was the language. Petrarca and Salutati highlighted the role language and its use had in Cicero's works and brought them on the first plan of the educational curriculum of a humanist. Cicero was a famous politician and orator, thus he was one of the best writers in theory of the use and language and composition.

In her book about the art in Renaissance, Welch rises the question of actual purpose regarding the definition Burckhardt expressed in his study of the Renaissance Italy as the sources of modern age: "Today, however, we must ask whether this division of a proto-modern Renaissance was as much a construction as the Portrait of Vittorio Emanuelle II itself." Politics were also essentially influenced by this period of revival and rediscovery and continuation in the study of the classic Greek and Latin art Philosophy and literature.

Among the incentives that made some of those who felt the need to start surching for the ancient writings and to bring their wisdom to light, there were the ruins of Rome themselves, as Burckhardt plastically explains: "He tells us how often with Giovanni Colonna he ascended the mighty vaults of the Baths of Diocletian, and there in the transparent air, amid the wide silence with the broad panorama stretching far around them, they spoke, not of business or political affairs, but of the history which the ruins beneath their feet suggested."

Burckhardt and other scholars explain the important changes that occurred in the thirteen Century in Italy, concentrating in Florence, one of the most wealthy and powerful city-states by the economical changes that intervened in the of their citizens. Due to its capability to apparently give immortality wealthy bankers like Cosimo de Medici were strong promoters and sustainers of any art form and of its creators, the artists. After having gained the power over the city, Cosimo encouraged and financially sustained Marsilio Ficino to found the Platonic Academy.

Ficino' neo-platonic views placed the human soul at the center of the universe as an immortal entity, thus placing humanity at the top of the most important things.

The work of those like Coluccio Salutati, Lorenzo Valla and Leonardo Bruni were aimed at emphasizing the importance of a complete humanistic education of the new man, insisting on "the necessity of a man's education being based on the disciplines which are closely connected with the nature and conduct of man, such as poetry, eloquence, history, philosophy, ethics, politics, and economics."

Beside the work of recovery and study of the ancient authors, Lorenzo Valla developed methods of determining age and the authenticity of classical works and as a result he was able to prove that the Donation of Constantine was in fact a false. Valla's most influential theories developed based on his study of the antiquity established that men were always driven by their self-interest and took the side sustained by the Epicureans in their philosophy. He decided that pleasure was the most important thing that determined men to act, but he understood by it the pleasure coming from a life based on control and lack of excess. Valla set thus the grounds for the birth of Capitalism. Lorenzo Vall's views on the determinant factors in men's actions were not far away from those Petrarca discovered in the Augustinian philosophy. Augustine based his study of humanity on the conviction that one will only be capable to understand humanity as a whole only by turning to oneself and further only by turning to oneself, will men ever be capable of finding salvation. Augustine placed humanity on a special place in respect to God and this is the feature Petrarca brought into the light and emphasized in his studies of Augustine. So, the scholastic objects of study of the Middle Ages, such as natural science, arithmetic, theology and logic were condemned by the Italian Renaissance humanists as being completely separated from the newly discovered point-of-view of the classical Augustine philosophies, simply because the single most important aim of a man's life was his salvation.

Another ideal of the artists in Renaissance Italy was derived from the humanist studies of Cicero that promoted two of the best qualities of a philosopher: eloquence and wisdom. This did not remain to be attained only by writers, philosophers, politicians or people of the law, but also by artist like Michelangelo. He also aimed to show wisdom and eloquence through his works of art even if his primary tool was not the language. His art aimed to expressed these qualities of a humanist who was thus creating for the good of his society and not only for his own pleasure and needs.

The humanist movement started by Petrarca, Coluccio Salutati and others were also highly influenced by the arrival of Byzantine scholars in Italy, after 1453, the year of the Ottomans conquered Constantinople. There were also some intended actions to bring ancient Greek manuscripts from Byzantinum before 1453 and the arrival of the Byzantine scholars who came in great numbers to Italy reinforced and gave the attempt to rediscover the of the Christian scriptures before being translated into Latin, for instance, a whole new dimension. This was the first step toward finding new meanings and a different spirit and eventually to give birth to the European Reformation.

So far, the image of the Italian Renaissance appeared like one the has cohesion and work towards uniting the people from the various regions of what today represents Italy. According to Evelyn Welch, economically and socially, Italy was more devided than ever, during the period of Renaissance, but they were also going towards cultural unity, due to the easy access they had to any part of the peninsula and to the cultural infusion from other parts of the world the port towns benefited from. Welche's conclusion when it comes to assessing the degree of disposition people in the Italian cities between the… [end of preview; READ MORE]

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