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At first glance, Lorenzo Valla has much in common with William of Ockham. Both see language as the key to an understanding of the world, criticizing realist ontologies which admit of various abstract entities. Modern scholars have therefore often argued that Valla's transformation of medieval metaphysics and logic is nominalist in spirit and continues Ockhamist nominalism. The article criticizes this widely held interpretation. At closer inspection, Valla's views on ontology and semantics are very different from Ockham's. Apart from the obvious differences in cultural background, they show widely different approaches, methods, and arguments at a more philosophical level.
The development of the contrapposto pose in Renaissance art depends, as is well known, on ancient discussions of the rhetorical figure of antithesis. Such philological associations, however, have drawn attention to the pose as a motif of style, notable only for its gracefulness of form. This essay considers how the turning pose in Raphael's work, rather than merely referring to the rhetorical figure of antithesis, evokes the thematic and structural significance of the trope. The discussion focuses on the turning female in his Transfiguration as a figuration of the antithetical event of revelation, where the unknown becomes known.
The invention of Giorgione's much-interpreted painting known as The Tempest can be explained with reference to the De rerum natura of Lucretius. Lucretius provides the essential connection between the main elements of the painting: a male 'wanderer,' a lightning bolt, broken columns, a naked, nursing female, and a landscape rendered according to momentary, fleeting appearances. The invention of the painting also responds to the way Lucretius was read around 1500, to the specific interests of the poet's Renaissance readers and imitators, and to forms of self-cultivation associated with the ownership of a studiolo.
Founded in 1540 as the Accademia degli Umidi, the Accademia Fiorentina quickly assumed a central role in the renewed language debate in Italy. Three Florentine protagonists of the debate, Pierfrancesco Giambullari, Giovambattista Gelli, and Carlo Lenzoni, all penned treatises in defense of contemporary Florentine as a language model, in opposition to solutions advocated by others, particularly Pietro Bembo and his followers, and Giovan Giorgio Trissino. Their writings variously support the expansionist political program of Duke Cosimo de' Medici, while at times contesting his more egalitarian domestic politics and his attempts to limit intellectual freedom.
A recent cleaning of the painting, scientific examinations of it, the publication of new letters related to it, and studies of the prophetic culture in which it was produced all call for a reevaluation of the traditional interpretations of Raphael's portrait Leo X with Cardinals Giulio de' Medici and Luigi de' Rossi. After a close analysis of the major iconographic details in the painting, the strengths and weaknesses of the various secular and religious interpretations of the painting are reviewed. That the painting is primarily religious in theme with prophetic and devotional overtones is argued as the most reasonable interpretation, given the iconographic details and context.
This essay examines the development of humanistic rhetoric in fifteenth-century Venice, taking as its starting point a remark of Ermolao Barbaro's on the inadequacy of academic rhetorical instruction as a preparation for the practical oratorical skills necessary to Venetian civic life. It is argued that the context of Barbaro's remark is a series of humanistic polemics on rhetoric that took place in Venice and Padua in the latter decades of the Quattrocento, culminating in the famous debate of the 1490s on the authenticity of the Rhetorica ad Herennium. As the essay shows, a consideration of these debates reveals the way in which local, contextual factors inflected the development of humanistic rhetorical culture in Italy, the key factor here being the continuing importance in republican Venice of a live tradition of deliberative debate.
This study examines the impact of the 1512 Medici restoration on the antiphonaries and graduals of the Florentine cathedral. Seven choirhooks are recognizably Medicean in their artistic and, in one significant case, in their liturgical and musical content. Whether through depictions of the family's most distinguished members — notably Lorenzo il Magnifico and Pope Leo X — or the detailed representations of contemporary events in which the Medici were the protagonists, or whether through the creation of a new Office for Florentine bishop-saint Zenobius, these lavish manuscripts reflect the themes of control and propaganda central to the years of the Medici restoration.
The article examines the narrative conclusion of the Georgics, in which the nymph Cyrene distills from Proteus' tale of Orpheus and Eurydice a set of practical instructions for her son to carry out. It argues that the tendency to minimize or ignore Cyrene's crucial role at the end of the poem is inseparable from Virgil's attempt to inspect the mechanics of instruction. Renaissance editors, commentators, and illustrators grappled uneasily with Virgil's attempt to make gender and placement integral components of Cyrene's pedagogy, and with the notion that successful instruction would culminate in a scene in which the teacher might still need to be present.
Elizabeth Pickering took over Robert Redman's press when he died in 1540, thus becoming the first woman known to print books in England. Her books tell us simply that she was Redman's widow. Wills and other legal documents in the London archives permit us to know much more. The documents examined here illuminate aspects of her personal life, but also reveal connections between a group of law-printers and lawyers that appear to have influenced the printing of law books in Tudor London. The first part of the essay traces this microhistory of family and community relations. The second half examines the books Elizabeth Pickering published.
Alciato's Parergon iuris libri duodecim belongs to the tradition of humanist notebooks which begins with Valla's Elegantiae and finds its most important representative in Poliziano's Miscellanea. It purports to provide explanations of difficulties found in the Corpus iuris civilis based on Alciato's reading in non-legal texts. However, it is apparent that he is also seeking to demonstrate his competence in the emendation and explication of these literary and historical texts. The remarks he is led to make about "grammatici" and "rhetores" are revealing of his personal attitudes and symptomatic of the evolution of attitudes in the world of education.
Federico Barocci (1535-1612) has always held a special place in studies of the patronage of Filippo Neri's Roman Congregation of the Oratory. The problem is how to quantify the affinity between artist and patron without slipping into zeitgeist historicism. A close chronological examination of documents surrounding Barocci's commissions to Oratorians and other patrons like Cardinal Federico Borromeo and Pope Clement VIII shows a coordinated effort within a larger orbit.
This essay analyzes the skeptical ideas of one of the most notorious works of the French Baroque, Le Moyen de parvenir. Its author, Béroalde de Verville, described his anti-novel as "une Satyre universelle," and one of his noteworthy accomplishments was to provide his troubled age with a relatively complete and innovative skeptical language based on both esoteric and exoteric alchemy. Conceiving of his text as a critical athanor, Béroalde conducts numerous experiments in transmutation that would turn Paracelsus' concepts into a kind of prima materia. Out of this reversion to the primordial emerges a general critique of ideas and social institutions through such alchemical notions as prime and ultimate matter, quintessence, astrosophy, the arcanum, the Archeus, and the Cagastrum.
This essay surveys the use of metaphors of illness, specifically those of constipation and diarrhea, in vernacular French Evangelical and Calvinist polemical theater of the 1520s and 30s (Berquin, Malingre, Marguerite d'Angoulême) through the 1560s (Badius). It considers the relatively frequent reference to staging of diagnosis, treatment, and cure in the context of contemporary medical belief and practice, and observes a shift in emphasis from optimistic prognosis and successful therapy of the earlier Evangelical period to negative pronouncement of imminent (and deserved) death in the later Calvinist or Huguenot period at the start of the Wars of Religion.
Montaigne's claim to be free from obligations to individual persons or the state in general is based on a corresponding assertion of self ownership. He claims a property in himself which includes the right to determine the nature of his employment. His stated preference is to limit any counterclaims upon his propriety, to invest his time and abilities exclusively in himself. Despite this preference, however, he describes his own career in public service and its terms. He agrees that the property he has in himself can be leased to the use of his prince, but he insists that this use not offend his judgment or preempt his will. He distinguishes his service from political servitude, which entails a forfeiting of the powers of judgment and will. His language describing how and for whom he works borrows terms from the market denoting ownership, possession, debt, obligation, and benefit.
This essay explores Virgil's influence in Renaissance poetry through the literature's most common trope, that of ruin; specifically, it examines the complexity of Virgilian imitation in Spenser's The Shepheardes Calender through an exploration of its introduction by his anonymous first critic, E.K. Through the topos of ruin, this essay reconsiders Virgil's legacy in the Calender, suggesting that critics have underestimated Spenser's criticism of Virgil's authorial pattern. Rather than reconstructing Virgil's model of cultural transmission — that of ruin and repair—Spenser presents the Ciceronian art of memory as a competing model for the architecture of immortality, for building upon the ruins of the past.
This paper retraces the life of Henricus de Veno, professor of philosophy at the Frisian University of Franeker, summarizes his teaching, and documents the trial that was conducted against him by the Roman Inquisition in 1597-98. De Veno was probably the most innovative Dutch teacher of philosophy in the first years of the seventeenth century, as he combined the new Protestant metaphysics with a cosmology and physics inspired by Girolamo Cardano. Instead of admitting before his Calvinist colleagues that he had been in prison and had converted to Catholicism before the Roman Inquisition, he claimed to have obtained various university degrees abroad. His philosophical views and religious interests correspond to the Arminian demand for a libertas prophetandi and a certain doctrinal open-mindedness.