In the Footsteps of the Ancients: The Origins of Humanism from Lovato to Bruni

In the Footsteps of the Ancients: The Origins of Humanism from Lovato to Bruni

Ronald G. Witt

Language: English

Pages: 562

ISBN: B00BDI4Z6S

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This monograph demonstrates why humanism began in Italy in the mid-thirteenth century. It considers Petrarch a third generation humanist, who christianized a secular movement. The analysis traces the beginning of humanism in poetry and its gradual penetration of other Latin literary genres, and, through stylistic analyses of texts, the extent to which imitation of the ancients produced changes in cognition and visual perception. The volume traces the link between vernacular translations and the emergence of Florence as the leader of Latin humanism by 1400 and why, limited to an elite in the fourteenth century, humanism became a major educational movement in the first decades of the fifteenth. It revises our conception of the relationship of Italian humanism to French twelfth-century humanism and of the character of early Italian humanism itself. This publication has also been published in hardback, please click here for details.

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inheritance. A brief analysis of the interplay between Tuscan vernacular and humanist writings in the century from 1250 to 1350 will serve to illuminate both linguistic traditions.45 I should say parenthetically that my analysis is limited to the portion of Italy north of Rome. Largely independent of the Carolingian empire, the south developed in the Middle Ages in a different way from the northern half of the peninsula, and generalizations made about northern and central Italian intellectual and

an urban–civic ethic in Florence in the early decades of the fourteenth century.79 As subsequent chapters will suggest, the awareness of the need to create a morality geared to urban life profoundly marked early humanism. Increasingly throughout the fourteenth century, the humanists, who often exaggerated the similarities between ancient and contemporary cultures in their writings, sought to reform their own society using ancient models. Evolving economic, social, and political realities in the

eminent Rolandino as his private teacher during the period of Ezzelino da Romano’s domination of the city, he probably would not have learned much from his master about composing poetry. Explaining why he did not compose his Cronica in verse, the prevailing convention for history writing in the second half of the thirteenth century (as we saw in the last chapter with Urso, Stefanardo, and Bonifazio), Rolandino wrote at the outset of his work: I also write in prose because I know that I am able to

tradition of northern Italy. More than seventy years before, Provençal influence had inspired Henry of Settimello to write the most strikingly personal lines of his generally sententious Elegia. Now driven to rival the personal – if formalized – voice articulated in the Provençal lyric, Lovato cast back to the ancient tradition for models he could imitate. Thence he appropriated not only techniques, but modes of expressing a range of nuanced attitudes and feelings. His discoveries had

link between history and morality. In contrast, Ferreto prefaced his Historia rerum in Italia gestarum by explaining the value of history for teaching morality and the need for divine grace in achieving that purpose.136 He conLe opere di Ferreto de’ Ferreti, vols. 1 and 2. Carlo Cipolla, “Studi su Ferreto dei Ferreti,” Giornale storico della letteratura italiana 6 (1885): 101–12, describes the influence of Mussato’s poem on Ferreto. 134 Giovanni Filippi, “Politica e religiosità di Ferreto dei

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