The idea that a republic is the only legitimate form of government and that non-elective monarchy and hereditary political privileges are by definition illegitimate is an artifact of late eighteenth century republicanism, though it has roots in the “godly republics” of the seventeenth century. It presupposes understanding a republic to be a non-monarchical form of government. The latter definition is a discursive practice that goes back only to the fifteenth century and is not found in Roman or medieval sources. This (...) article explains how the definition emerged in Renaissance Italy. (shrink)
The Cambridge Companion to Renaissance Philosophy, published in 2007, provides an introduction to a complex period of change in the subject matter and practice of philosophy. The philosophy of the fourteenth through sixteenth centuries is often seen as transitional between the scholastic philosophy of the Middle Ages and modern philosophy, but the essays collected here, by a distinguished international team of contributors, call these assumptions into question, emphasizing both the continuity with scholastic philosophy and the role of Renaissance philosophy in (...) the emergence of modernity. They explore the ways in which the science, religion and politics of the period reflect and are reflected in its philosophical life, and they emphasize the dynamism and pluralism of a period which saw both new perspectives and enduring contributions to the history of philosophy. This will be an invaluable guide for students of philosophy, intellectual historians, and all who are interested in Renaissance thought. (shrink)
This article argues, against the still-prevailing interpretation of Leonardo Bruni’s De militia – that it is a defense of civic militias against the mercenary system – for an alternative view: that it represents an attempt to reform communal knighthood in accordance with ancient Greek political theory and Roman historical models. It thus aimed to make the reform of contemporary knighthood into an aspect of the revival of antiquity.
The beginning of the fifteenth century marks a new stage in the reception of the Platonic dialogues in the Latin West. Throughout the medieval period only four dialogues of Plato--the Timaeus, Phaedo, Meno, and part of the Parmenides--were accessible to Latin readers, and the study of Plato was almost wholly confined to the first of these texts, which is chiefly concerned with natural philosophy. In the first half of the fifteenth century this situation changed dramatically: six new dialogues or parts (...) of dialogues were translated by Leonardo Bruni, the Republic was translated three times, George of Trebizond made versions of the Laws, the Epinomis, and the Parmenides, and a dozen other dialogues were made available in Latin by various other translators. With the work of Marsilio Ficino, who published in 1484 the first translation of the Complete Works, the translation activity of the fifteenth century come to fruition. ;The renewed interest in translating Plato in the early fifteenth century was not however at first a renewal of Platonism. The translation of Plato made part of a cultural program whose premisses were in fact foreign to Platonic thought; Plato was instead put to the task of showing that pagan literature was compatible with Christianity, or read as a wise sage full of melodious maxims in usum scholarum, or so twisted as to endorse with his authority some political belief of the translators. These ulterior motives had their influence on the translations themselves, which were frequently excerpted, bowdlerized, or otherwise expurgated of inappropriate sentiments. Such philosophical understanding of Plato as the early humanists displayed was derived from the Philosophica of Cicero. ;It is only with the Plato-Aristotle controversy of mid-century that some more sophisticated understanding of Platonic philosophy begins to emerge. Despite the central role Plato played in his apocalyptic theology, George of Trebizond does not seem to have had a very firm grasp of Platonic thought, but his opponent in the controversy, Cardinal Bessarion, was able to draw upon the philosophical sagacity of the Byzantine and Western scholastic traditions, and produced a more penetrating, if at times incoherent, interpretation of Plato's thought. It is only with Marsilio Ficino however that philosophical understanding was combined with the philological attainments necessary to produce a respectable translation of Plato, and this may account for the great success Ficino's translations enjoyed in subsequent centuries. (shrink)
"Plato in the Italian Renaissance, the first book-length treatment of Renaissance Platonism in over fifty years, is a study of the dramatic revival of interest in the Platonic dialogues in Italy in the fifteenth century. Through a richly contextual study of the translations and commentaries on Plato, James Hankins seeks to show how the interpretation of Plato was molded by the expectations of fifteenth-century readers, by the need to protect Plato against his critics, and the broader hermeneutical assumptions and practices (...) of the period. (shrink)
Forgers and Critics: Creativity and Duplicity in Western Scholarship Fake? The Art of Deception Did the Greeks Believe in their Myths? An Essay on the Constitutive Imagination Carlo Sigonio: The Changing World of the Late Renaissance.