Humanism Essay

2270 words - 9 pages

Humanism

Before the Italian Renaissance, the education system in Europe was controlled by the Latin Church, which basically taught mostly religious doctrine. Then, beginning in the 1300's, many scholars began to discover classic works by the likes of Plato and especially Cicero. Cicero, who was a Roman philosopher and statesman, studied something he called "humane studies." Cicero influenced Francesco Petrarch, who started the renaissance revival of antiquity, when he discovered his lost letters. Petrarch also had a huge impact on many other people to come along later such as Boccaccio and Salutati. These humanists and many others thought that the medieval program of studies taught too much doctrine. Their goal was to establish a more classical program of studies and they saw themselves as reviving the ancient texts when they found and translated them. The humanists did not agree with the teachings of the university professors and they challenged their system at every level. They had their own ideas about the texts that should form the core of the humanist curriculum, which was based on Cicero's studies. They were the subjects of grammar- specifically the scientific study of grammar which is called philology. Rhetoric- the art of speaking eloquently which would become crucially important especially in public speaking. Poetry- the purest form of literary expression and through poetry the inner-self can be released. History- they were very conscious of themselves being separate from medieval times. And ethics- which would be at the core of the renaissance humanist studies and covered all four above in a deeper sense. The people who studied this curriculum and the classics became to be known as "humanists." They developed this new type of classical scholarship in which they tried to understand and translate the works of the Greeks and Romans. The humanists believed that the Greek and Latin classics contained all the lessons one needed to lead a moral and effective life. Their scholarship was one of the main factors in the start of the Renaissance.
After humanism had established itself as a formidable type of studies and it began to spread throughout Europe mainly by the traveling of these humanist scholars to and from Italy and the traveling of interested foreigners to Italy to see what all of the fuss was about. According to Dr. Peter Burke, " The expatriate humanists were not missionaries and they did not particularly want to leave Italy. What geographers call the "push" factor was more important than the "pull" of foreign countries " (4). Which means that some humanist left Italy because they were forced to. For example, two conspiracies forced Filippo Buonaccorsi and Luigi Alamanni out of Italy. Filippo was involved in a conspiracy against Pope Paul II and was forced to leave to Poland where he became very famous. Luigi was forced out of Florence for being involved in a conspiracy against the Medici family and fled to...

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