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					The Concept of the
   Renaissance

   Federico Chabod
The Traditional Concept
 The problem of Continuity
 Fustel de Coulanges and his theory on the
  Barbarian invaders (tabula rasa)
 The theory of continuity against the theory of
  things “as they have occurred” (effects and
  dangers of each theory in itself) p. 151
 The traditional concepts: Middle Ages and
  Renaissance
 The praesens tempus and media aetas according
  to Italians of the XIV and XV (Boccaccio, C.
  Salutati, L. Valla, L. Bruni)
 As the city of Rome perished at the hands of the perverse and
  tyrannical emperors, so did Latin studies and literature
  undergo similar ruin and diminution . . . And Italy was
  invaded by the Goths and Longobards, barbarous, uncouth
  people, who practically extinguished all knowledge of
  literature.
                           Leonardo Bruni


  All statues and paintings were smashed and torn . . . And thus
  were destroyed not only statues and paintings, but the books
  and commentaries and handbooks and rules on which men
  relied for their training in this great and excellent and gentle
  art
                             Lorenzo Ghiberti
    栀爀椀猀琀椀愀渀 稀攀愀氀 愀渀搀 愀
吀栀攀 䌀
 爀琀ഀ吀栀攀 甀最氀礀 䌀       爀攀攀欀 匀琀礀氀攀 
 愀渀搀 䌀椀漀琀琀漀ഀ䌀    攀 猀甀挀挀攀攀搀攀搀 
 椀渀 戀愀渀椀猀栀椀渀最 挀漀洀瀀氀攀琀攀氀
 礀 琀栀愀琀  ഀ           甀最氀礀 䌀
                          爀攀攀欀 猀琀礀氀
 攀䌀 愀渀搀 爀攀瘀椀瘀攀搀 琀栀攀 洀漀搀攀爀渀 愀渀搀 攀砀
 挀攀氀氀攀渀琀 ഀ           愀爀琀 漀昀 瀀愀椀渀琀椀渀最䌀                     愀
 渀搀 栀攀 椀渀琀爀漀搀甀挀攀搀 琀栀攀 氀椀昀攀䌀                    氀椀欀攀 瀀
 漀爀琀爀愀礀愀氀 ഀ           漀昀 氀椀瘀椀渀最 瀀攀爀猀漀
 渀猀䌀 眀栀椀挀栀 昀漀爀 洀愀渀礀 栀甀渀搀爀攀搀猀 漀昀 礀
 攀愀爀猀 栀愀搀 ഀ           戀攀攀渀 漀甀琀 漀昀 昀愀猀栀
 椀漀渀
 䌀                                                         
     ഀ                                           䌀椀漀爀最椀
 漀 嘀愀猀愀爀椀 䌀      嘀椀琀愀 搀椀 䌀      椀漀琀琀漀⤀ഀഀ   䌀       渀搀 
 椀渀 䌀 爀挀栀椀琀攀挀琀甀爀攀 䌀漀琀栀椀挀   䌀
 ⤀ഀ          䌀挀甀爀猀攀 漀昀 戀甀椀氀搀椀渀最 䌀 䌀 䌀 圀
 栀椀挀栀 栀愀猀 瀀漀氀氀甀琀攀搀 琀栀攀 眀漀爀氀搀 䌀 䌀 䌀 䌀
 渀搀 洀愀礀 䌀
        漀搀       ഀ            瀀爀攀猀攀爀瘀攀 愀氀
 氀 氀愀渀搀猀 昀爀漀洀 琀栀攀 椀渀琀爀甀猀椀漀渀 漀昀 猀甀
 Vasari : criticism of the Christians but not of the
  faith. His is an aesthetic criticism
 Voltaire: antipathy for Catholicism : it is the “guilt”
  of religion, responsible for medieval obscurantism
  (furor against the papacy’s power during the Middle
  Ages - spirit of the Reformation)
 Voltaire echoes Ghiberti’s and Vasari’s opinions
  about the fall of the Roman empire, the advent of
  Christianity and the barbarism of the northern
  invaders
 These opinions are amplified by modern historians:
  Michelet, Burckhardt, Spaventa, Dilthey and Gentile
 Die Kultur der Renaissance in Italien represents the
  period as a sudden emergence of genius in the
  middle of a cultural and artistic desert. Isolation of
  the Renaissance (no sense of historical continuity)
Imitation of Classical Models
 Opinion expressed by the artists of the time. The
  Renaissance has its origin when the
   “glorious minds that sprang from the soil of Tuscany . . .
    (turn to the ancient ruins of Rome and start)
    distinguishing very clearly the good from the bad and
    forsaking the old styles, they began once more to imitate,
    to the limit of their energies and abilities, the styles
    affected by the ancients . . .”     Giorgio Vasari

   Belief that the ancients had exercised a direct
   influence on the rebirth of Art and Literature
   was general (a direct consequence of numerous
   archeological excavations)
New Critical Approaches
 The theory of continuity applied to the Middle
  Ages and Renaissance
 Middle Ages: rich in variety, stimulated by many
  problems, interests and aspirations; a restless age,
  full of exuberant life
 Is the Renaissance a new phenomenon, with
  features of its own, or is it a broadening (not very
  original) of already present motifs and ideals?
 First step: distinguish between every-day-life and
  the LIFE OF THE MIND, the theoretical
  formulation of a CONSCIOUSNESS (man’s
  thoughts and ideas)
 Renaissance
 The term is used to describe a MOBILIZATION OF
  IDEAS which   is primarily
 ARTISTIC
 LITERARY
 CULTURAL
 The Renaissance as an “INTELLECTUAL” reality,
  not as a “PHYSICAL” one
 An intellectual construction in which human
  designs and actions conform to an ideal system,
  to a spiritual creed, to a program of life
 Only when transformed in a complete, theoretical
  affirmation, a practical truth becomes a
  theoretical precept, a law explicitly credited with
  a universal validity
 Vix scio quae fuerim, vix Roma recordor; vix sinit
    occasus vel neminisse mei. Par tibi, Roma, nihil cum sos
    prope tota ruina.
    Hildebrand de Lavardin (Le Mans, 1106)
   Nichil actum fore potavi, si que legendo didiceram, non
    aggrederer exercendo.
    Cola di Rienzo (1350)
   Nos . . . Volentes et desiderantes . . . Voluntates,
    benignitates, et liberalitates antiquorum romanorum
    principium . . . imitari.
    Decree of the sovereignity of the Roman People I August
    1347
   Imitatio - legere becomes exercere. Instead of an elegy,
    there is a determination to revive the ancient splendors
    and glories of Rome
   Men must imitate the ancients “in matters calling for
    strength and vigor . . . (they must adopt) the true and
    perfect ways of antiquity, not the false and corrupt.
    Niccolò Machiavelli (L’arte della guerra)
 Limitation of Medieval thought
  a) the relationship between God and man;
  b) the Christian and Augustinian sense of sin and
  grace (religious conception of the world)
 The Classic authors remained ornaments in the
  works of the Middle Ages, intended to give luster
  to the moral and spiritual ways of the medieval
  philosophers (Dante?)

 Il est remarquable . . . que pendant la période la plus
  radieuse de la Renaissance les types iconographiques
  “transmis” et donc altérés, - soient presque partout
  abandonnés au profit des types ‘retrouvés’ dans leur
  pureté première.
  J. Seznec, La survivance des dieux antiques
 For the Medieval scholar, Rome was
 imitable, but only as Christian Rome, capital
 of Christianity

 The Renaissance viewed Rome as the ideal
 moment in human history, in which the
 highest aspirations of mankind were
 realized. Imitation becomes a pattern of life
Realism and Individualism
 In the Middle Ages realism is episodic, emotional.
  The detail is realistic, but the general conception is
  not. The Prime Mover of life and human history is
  located outside the world and the destinies of men
  are determined by the will of God.
 The sensibility is ‘human’ and ‘mundane’, but the
  spirit is nourished by an inner life located outside
  carnal humanity
 Medieval and Renaissance historical descriptions?
  What is the difference? (177)
 The “conceptual” (vs “impressionistic”)realism of
  Guicciardini and Machiavelli
 The realistic description of physical traits is
  undertaken only if it serves to complete the “moral”
  description (178)
 Renaissance Realism
 Villani’s (medieval chronicler) Historiae
  Fiorentine
  a) passionate moral appeals (God, devil etc.).
  b) no interpretation, no sense of human
  “individuality”
 Machiavelli’s Historiae Fiorentine
  a) no supernatural presence
  b) man is the primary agent of history
  c) the supernatural as fatality, casualty
  d) natural “deterministic” realism (sins are political
  not moral)
 Machiavelli’s political realism is not concerned
  with “right” and “wrong,” “good” and “evil”
  But since it is my purpose to write what may be useful to those who
  need it, I have thought it more fitting to concern myself with the effective
  reality of things than with speculation. For many have imagined republics
  (Plato) and principates which have never been seen or known to exist in
  reality.
                                              Machiavelli Il principe



 Political realism: How things are, not how things
  should be

 No supernatural Will to explain the immediate
  causes of events
Art in the Renaissance
 Aim of the medieval artist is the glorification of
  the Creator (Theophilus, Schedula diversarum
  artium)
 Renaissance artist (L. B. Alberti, Della pittura)
  a) is conscious of the intrinsic merit of an artwork
  b) aims at creating the beautiful and immortal
  c) glorification of humanity and its achievements
  d) Nature is imitated (scientifically) per se, not as
  a mirror of God’s power
 Liberation of the artist from every restriction that
  is not dictated by artistic reason
 The world becomes a synthesis of lines, volumes
  and colors
Novelty of the Renaissance
 Realism and individualism (from Alberti to
  Machiavelli, Ariosto and Galileo) lead to the
  affirmation of the complete autonomy of art,
  politics, science and history

 Ars gratia artis

 The typically medieval conception of the
  world in which no branch of human activity
  could be considered independent from life as
  a whole is abandoned
  Man and God
 Main issues raised by the new system
  a) how can Nature be reconciled with the excellence
  of man
  b) how to reconcile man and Nature with God
 Art and politics are no longer serving a supernatural
  purpose but ethics still is!
 The idea of a purely rational ethic, independent from
  religion, is unthinkable
 Ethics concern itself with the question: how things
  ought to be (vs. how things are)
 The need to justify the world and existence, nature
  and creature, will and fortune, brings man back to
  the idea of a transcendent God of humanity
 The Treatise as Genre
 A treatise is a prose work that analyzes a problem in all its
    aspects. It is the demonstration of a thesis whose validity
    results from the confutation of all other antitheses
   The themes can range from politics, to aesthetics, to science
   It derives directly from the Greek and Roman tradition,
    from Plato’s Dialogues, where a group of thinkers that
    debate their individual philosophical positions
   The treatise can have a dialogical form, that becomes a
    lively debate, or can be discursive, presenting different
    arguments and contrasting perspectives
   Popularity of the treatise a) the rediscovery of the classics
    b) exemplary form of discussion and expression of ideas
    c) the necessity to theorize and form a new model of man
    d) the projection on the page of a human res publica whose
    aim is the education of free thinking human beings
 Niccolò Machiavelli
 1469 Born in Florence
 1498 Is elected secretary of the Florentine Republic
 1500 Is sent as envoy to the King of France, Louis XII
 1501 Marries Marietta Corsini; will have six children
 1502 Envoy to Cesare Borgia, at Urbino and Imola
 1503 Is sent to Rome for the Conclave (Pious III)
 1506 Works for the republic and organizes its army
 1507-11 Travels to Tyrol (Maximilian), then to Blois, to meet Louis
    XII. Later he travels to Munich and France
   1512 The Holy League of Modena decides the return of the Medici
    to Florence. He is banned from the city for a year
   1513 Imprisoned and tortured. Begins to write The Prince
   1515-16 Offers The Prince to Lorenzo de’ Medici
   1519 Composes The Art of War
   1525 Completes the eight volumes of the Florentine Chronicles
   1527 After the sack of Rome, Florence returns to the Republic. He
    dies on June 21
The Prince and Its Ideology
 A negative evaluation of human nature
 The conviction of human nature’s immutability
 The necessity to keep these data in mind if one wants to enter a
    political career (Realpolitik)
   The usefulness of examples taken from the past
   At the light of his lucid realism, politica activity becomes a science
    whose core is the foundation and maintenance of the state
   Political actions shall not be evaluated on the basis of a moral code
    but keeping in mind the principle of utility and congruence with
    that given objective (previous point)
   Virtues are therefore: cruelty, dissimulation, murder etc.
   Net separation between moral and political judgement
    differentiates The Prince from previous treatises (mirror of prince)
    popular during the Middle Ages (catalogues of moral virtues)
   Contrasting aspects of Machiavelli’s thought:
    a) the theorization of an absolute power (The prince)
    b) his sympathy for the democratic government (The Discourses)
The Structure of The Prince
Chapters I - XI       Typology of Principalities and
                      problems related to each of them
Chapters XII - XIV    Mercenary and volunteer militias

Chapters XV - XIX     Virtues and attitudes of a Prince

Chapters XX - XXIII   Precepts of various kind

Chapter XXIV          Responsibilities of Italian Princes

Chapter XXV           Virtue and Fortune

Chapter XXVI          Exhortation to liberate Italy
 XI Ecclesiastical Principalities
  a) Reasons why Ecclesiastical Principalities are secure and
  happy
  b) Why are E.P. so powerful now when they once were not
  c) Present history: Alexander VI - Julius II - Leo X
 XII Militia and Mercenary Soldiers
  a) Chief foundations of a state
  b) Different kinds of arms
  c) Mercenaries (proof of reality)
  d) What kind of sins have the Italian princes committed
  e) Overview of the Quattrocento (church and princes)
 XIII Auxiliary and Native Troops
  a) Definition
  b) Why are they worse than mercenaries
  c) The symbolic meaning of David’s biblical story
  d) “But men with their lack of prudence initiate novelties and, finding
  the first taste good, do not notice the poison within.”
 XIV The Duties of a Prince in Regard to the Militia
  a) Main objective of a Prince
  b) Armed vs unarmed
  c) The art of war in peace time
  d) Knowledge of hardship and territory
  e) Imitation and study
 XV Of the Things for which Men, especially Princes, are
  Praised or Blamed
  a) Concept of reality
  b) What ought to be done (consequences)
  c) Know hows for a Prince
  d) Good and bad virtues (reversed value)
 XVI Of Liberality and Niggardliness
  a) Praise of the miserly Prince (good vice)
 XVII Of Cruelty and Clemency
  a) Reasons for being cruel (consequences of leniency)
  b) To be feared or loved
 c) Description of humanity
  d) Hannibal’s example and the historians
  e) “Men love of their own free will but fear at the will of the prince.”
 XVIII In What Way Must Princes Keep Faith
  a) Experience contradicts good intentions
  b) The beast and the man
  c) Broken promises
  d) Deceivers and deceived
  e) Alexander VI’s example
  f) “It is not, therefore, necessary for a prince to have all the above-
   named qualities, but it is necessary to seem to have them.”
   g) To be or to appear to be
   h) Mercy, faith, integrity, humanity, religion
Machiavelli and Fortuna
 Fortuna as ambiguous concept in M.?
 Characteristics of Fortuna (images used)
 What is the role of religion in a state (religio
  instrumentum regni)

 What is virtue for Machiavelli?
 Are man’s virtue, intelligence, energy
  enough to create and shape history?
 Can man achieve anything by himself?
 Where is God in his philosophy of man

				
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posted:11/30/2011
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