Humanism: scholarly study of the Latin and Greek classics and of the ancient Church Fathers, both for its own sake and in the hope of reviving respected ancient norms and values.
- advocated studia humanitatis, liberal arts program of study of embracing grammar, poetry, history, etc.
- Bruni (1371-1444): start student of Byzantine scholar, Manuel Chrysoloras, coined the word humanity
- first humanists were orators and poets
Petrarch (1304-1374): spent his life around Avignon, celebrated Rome, wrote poems to Laura, a married woman that he admired; Classical and Christian values coexist in his work, far more secular than Dante (1265-1321).
Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375): Petrarch’s friend and student, wrote Decameron, which is about men and women in seclusion from plague
Educational Reforms and Goals
- goal: wisdom eloquently spoken, both knowledge of good and ability to move others to desire it.
- Book of the Courtier: rediscovered knowledge of the past was both model and challenge to present; guide for nobility
The Florentine “Academy” and the Revival of Platoism
- After fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453, Greek scholars fled to Florence
- Academy: informal gathering of influential Florentine humanists
- Platoism: distinguished between eternal sphere of being and perishable world in which humans live
- Pico’s Oration on the Dignity of Man: show Platonic influence; depict humans as only creatures in the world with full will to be like angels or pigs
Lorenzo Valla
- Humanists: critics of tradition, even unintentionally
- Donations: proved wrong by Valla by finding anachronistic terms such as fief
- strong Catholic
Civic Humanism
= Education should promote individual virtue and public service
- Salutati, Bruni, and Bracciolini served as chancellors of the city
- toward end of Renaissance, humanists became cliquish and snobbish; intellectual elite interesting in classical Latin than revitalizing the city