Term Paper: Renaissance and Humanism

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Francesco Petrarch lived in Florence between 1304 and 1374 and he is mostly known for a series of love sonnets he wrote to Laura. In addition to this he also translated several Classical works and wrote letters to other influential Renaissance individuals, with Boccaccio being among the most influential.

Peter Paul Vergerio lived between 1374 and 1444 and was most recognized for his teaching in a series of Italian universities. He emphasized the importance of Liberal Arts by insisting that medieval education was outdated and had a negative effect on individuals.

Baldesar Castiglione lived between 1478 and 1529 and focused on providing society with a more complex understanding of attitudes required in court life. His "The Book of the Courtier" made it possible for his contemporaries to be able to understand behaviors that were considered correct while in court.

Niccolo Machiavelli was most recognized for writing "The Prince," a text that was meant to teach leaders with regard to the strategies they needed to use in order to experience positive results while ruling.

2. Machiavelli and Castiglione were each focused on different matters throughout their lives as the former wanted to emphasize the need for scrupulousness while the other concentrated on courtly behavior. Petrarch's thinking was in agreement with Castiglione's thinking when considering that they both expressed interest in the importance of ideas like honor. Vergerio somewhat agreed to both Castiglione and Machiavelli's thinking by supporting innovative ideas.

Baldesar Castiglione's "Discourse on Love" is focused on the idea of a perfect courtier and on a series of attributes that such an individual is required to have. Some of the principal concepts emphasized here relate to a courtier's need to have a complex understanding of reason and manners. Castiglione virtually wants people to acknowledge that there are several natural talents that a courtier would be required to have in order for people interacting with him to appreciate his character. The writer wants to display the archetypal Renaissance man as possessing attributes that distinguishes him from the masses and that play an important role in helping him improve conditions wherever he goes.

Niccolo Machiavelli's "The Prince" stresses that the Renaissance man has to be well-acquainted with his powers in order to be able to put them into practice whenever he has the chance to do so. Machiavelli believed that a Prince should embrace unscrupulousness as one of the most important values that he can possibly think of. From his perspective, a successful Renaissance person needed to be able to spot opportunities and take advantage of them, regardless of the moral nature of his actions.

3. Pico della Mirandola used "Oration on the Dignity of Man" in an attempt to raise public awareness concerning the immense potential present in all people. He emphasized knowledge and philosophy as two of the most important tools that people could use in their struggle to achieve higher states and to improve society as a whole. According to the text, people should be more sensible with regard to the idea of self-discovery and they should employ more of their resources in trying to rediscover themselves and make the world a better place as a result.

Pico and Castiglione were correct in putting across more moral attitudes toward the archetypal Renaissance man and it is obvious that they were both interested in becoming an active part of a society that valued honor and morality more than material values. They both contradicted Machiavellian thinking by putting across such ideas and emphasized that the safest road to having a peaceful society would be to promote knowledge as one of humanity's most powerful tools.

There are also a lot of parallels between Pico's text and Vergerio and Petrarch, as they were all focused on changing society's understanding… [END OF PREVIEW]

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