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Chapter 1

HIS357H5 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Quintus Tullius Cicero, Leontius Pilatus, Giovanni Boccaccio

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Petrakos Christopher

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Week 3 : Renaissance Humanism: Chapter 1: Antiquity Reborn pgs. 1-10
Classical Antiquity was reborn
Took place in two parallel efforts- 15th century painters, sculptors and architects
examined, copied, and imitated the forms of classical art-human, animal, floral and
the late 13th century, Petrarch and Boccaccio , rebirth consisted of the recovery
rereading and reconceptualization of the classical past
Renaissance sometimes called “early modern”, fundamental in the visual and performing
arts, historical writing, literature, political, religion, political thought, science and
The humanists began with the Latin language as written by ancient practitioners
In order to understand the Latin of the ancients, the humanists learned all that could be
known about classical civilizations
Christianity was a barrier between humanists and ancient times
For the humanist Christians, the soul was immoral and would be judged by an
omnipotent and righteous God
Ancients had no creed, no theology, no connection between the ethical and religious
Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch)
1304-1374 wrote ten letters to men who were long dead- poets, philosophers,
rhetoricians and historians
All his letters reveal he is reaching out to a man of the fourteenth century, a soul long
One addressed to Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 BCE) written in 1345 and to Greek
poet Homer (fl.c. 750 BCE) in 1360
The Cicero letters opened to Petrarch a book-hunting and renewed interest in the
classical legacy
Petrarch writes to Cicero in a familial tone, loves him without limit
Cicero was assassinated in the Roman Republic by Mark Antony and Octavian
Petrarch’s letter to Homer is a literary game initiated by another writer but which he puts
in his own use
Homer “prince of Greek Poets”, no common language
Petrarch commissioned Leonzio Pilato to translate homer for Petrarch and his friend
Giovanni Boccaccio
Petrarch’s letter to Cicero ( June 16 1345) is his first response to the new voice and
spirit he detected in the genre of the familiar letter. He discovered Cicero’s letters to
Atticus in the cathedral of Verona
Petrarch believed that Cicero used “disastrous old man” as a means of describing
The letter mentions Dionysius, Quintus Tullius Cicero, Marcus Junius Brutus, Cornelius
Dolabella, Julius Caesar, Pompey the Great, Mark Antony and Octavian (aka Augustus)
When Cicero was consul in 63 BCE, he vigorously suppressed the conspiracy of the
aristocratic malcontent Lucius Sergius Catalina, a prosecution accompanied by a now-
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famous series of four speeches known as the Catilinarian Orations, and resulting in the
death of his target
In Petrarch’s letter to Homer ( 9 October 1360) “our authors” in this essence are the
ancient roman writers who generally knew Greek and some instances, translated Greek
works into Latin for contemporary readers
Speaks about Leonzio Pilato, a native of Calabria of Greek and Boccaccio had
commissioned to translate Homer’s work into Latin
Speaks of Ulysses, the Latin form of Odysseus the hero of the Odyssey
Jurists and physicians were the two dominant categories of professionals in Petrarch’s
Italian World
Petrarch reviews Homer’s account of his life and the loss of his works and addresses his
complaints about literary imitation Homer should rejoice that many men wish to be like
Homer complains that imitators have mangled his work
Petrarch proceeds to assuage Homer’s distress that few people in Italy know about him
and who can read his works
He treats Homer as a member of the under world
Mediolanum: Latin name of the city called Milano in Italian and Milan in English; it seems
to mean “in the middle” or on the body of land adjacent to several rivers
Petrarch again calls attention to his temporal identity as living during the “last age”
Chapter 1 continued, Pgs. 27-34
Poggio Bracciolini and Cencio Romano, Book Hunters
1416 a general council of the church, a group of papal secretaries went to a nearby
monastery that was home of a horde of old books in Constance (modern Germany)
This council met from 1414-1418 on the shores of Lake Constance in the Swiss Alps to
resolve matters of fundamental importance : i.e. the future of the papacy, nature of
church governance and threat of heresy
Jan Hus, leader of a Bohemian reform movement was burned at the stake
Had the books not been copied in the 8&9th century, much of Latin tradition would be lost
But some of these books were in unique and remote locations
Papal secretary Cencio, a humanist writes to notable and defender of the classical
tradition, Francesco da Fiano
Discovered the books at Saint Gallen , founded in 719, 20 miles from Constance
covered in dust, worms, dirt and other things pertaining to the destruction of books
Cencio blames the monks for the poorly kept condition of the books who were a “mob of
Suggested capital punishment for those who destroy the studia humanitatis , those who
injure the liberal arts and deprive humankind of nourishment
Poggio Bracciolini belongs to the first rank of humanists, rose to Chancellor of Florence
Poggio writes to Guarino Guarini, one of the first Italians to master both Greek and Latin
Introduction to the Quintilian, first century Latin author of the Principles of Oratory , was
found at Saint Gallen in a complete and clean manuscript- major finding for humanists
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