Greek And Latin Classics By Cicero, Vergil, Horace, Plato And Livy

1090 words - 4 pages

Established in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries to counter the limited ideals of medieval scholasticism, Renaissance Humanism were educational and social reform ideals that sought to emphasize individualism as a central value in contrast to religious beliefs. Humanists revered the dignity of human kind and called for a life of virtuous action. The writings of Petrarch and Pico exemplify humanist thought by displaying the values of self-knowledge, individualism, and studying lessons from the past; appealing to the authorities of the Greek and Latin classics by Cicero, Vergil, Horace, Plato and Livy. Petrarch and Pico’s thinking can be constituted as a marked departure from medieval attitudes and beliefs, due to the origins of humanist resources being classical and biblical rather stemmed from medieval philosophers and theologians.
Petrarch, considered the “father of humanism,” derived a great deal of inspiration from Greek and Roman philosophers such as Cicero, Livy, Vergil, and Horace. In “The Ascent of Mont Ventoux,” Petrarch writes about climbing to the top of Mont Ventoux detailing his journey to the top. The essay presents the themes of studying lessons from the past and self-knowledge. As Petrarch makes his way up the mountain, he comes across an old Shepard, “we found an old shepherd in one of the mountain dales, who tried, at great length, to dissuade us from the ascent, saying that some fifty years before he had, in the same ardour of youth, reached the summit, but had gotten for his pains nothing except fatigue and regret… No one… had ever tried the ascent before or after him. But his counsels increased rather than diminished our desire to proceed, since youth is suspicious of warnings.” The old shepherd symbolizes the historical past while Petrarch represents the present. The old shepherd urges Petrarch that the journey to the top of the mountain is dangerous. Despite the old Shepard’s warning, Petrarch continues his journey stating, “…His counsels increased rather than diminished our desire to proceed, since youth is suspicious of warnings.” One of the key themes in humanism is learning from the past, studying ancient classic literary works. Petrarch’s disregard of the old shepherd’s advice is history repeating itself, believing he could succeed where the Shepard has failed.
Petrarch sets out to climb the mountain simply to see the view. But as he climbs the mountain, Petrarch experiences enlightenment and discovers the there are deeper reasons for his ascent. Petrarch comes to the realization that humans are selfish and bound to earthly possessions. Referring to the works theologians and scholars—such as St. Augustine—Petrarch realizes that the lessons he learned on his journey were far more important than the goal of reaching his final destination, “…in truth, I was satisfied that I had seen enough of the mountain; I turned my inward eye upon myself, and from that time not a syllable fell from my lips until we...

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