Posted by Eric » Add Comment »
I’ve been reading the second volume of R. Pfeiffer’s History of Classical Scholarship (which covers 1300-1850) and thought this was interesting (in his discussion of the significance of Petrarch):
We have often been told that humanism arose from the social and political conditions of the consolidated new Italian city states; and it is true that these conditions became more and more favourable to the development and diffusion of Petrarch’s ideas. These ideas, however, originated from his own mind; they did not spring from the spirit of society of his time of which he always spoke with contempt (‘mihi semper aetas ista displicuit’). It was because his studies of antiquity were shortly afterwards termed ‘studia humanitatis’ by the leading members of the Florentine circle that the critical scholarship which he recreated became amalgamated with the concept of humanitas for the whole future, as did no other branch of scholarhip. This union, as we shall see, involved many problems in the course of time; it was due, as we have tried to explain, to the personal impulse of an original poetical genius.
(History of Classical Scholarship, vol. 2, p. 16)