In the Footsteps of the Ancients: The Origins of Humanism from Lovato to Bruni

By Ronald G. Witt | Go to book overview

CHAPTER THREE
PADUA AND THE ORIGINS OF HUMANISM

The practice in contemporary scholarship of considering Petrarch the first humanist has resulted in a foreshortened view of Italian Renaissance humanism and a misinterpretation of Ms actual role in its development. Setting Petrarch's Christianized version of humanism and his syncretic stylistic theory at the origins of the movement has distorted our perspective of its evolution between the generations of Mussato and Bruni. Petrarch was the first to formulate a program and a goal for humanists, but he was preceded by two generations of scholars and literary men with interests in and attitudes toward the ancients much like his own. Petrarch joined a scholarly and literary movement that was already more than seventy years old, and Ms own contributions built on an inheritance. In some respects, Petrarch and the generation following Mm represented a hiatus between Bruni and Poggio on the one hand and the early humanists on the other. Among Petrarch's predecessors, Lovato dei Lovati stands out as the progenitor of the movement, which began not in Florence but in Padua.


1

In a succinct section of Ms classic monograph, Padua in the Age of Dante, John K. Hyde draws a sharp contrast between the political and social life of Padua and that of Florence around 1300. About a quarter the size of Florence, Padua drew its income principally from the exploitation of its contado.1 Whereas for the Florentine upper class of the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, commerce and industry were respectable ways of earning money, for the Paduan upper class trade was considered not quite respectable, and merchants tended to be regarded as probable usurers. Because mercantile and industrial interests were relatively weak, political power in

____________________
1
John K. Hyde, Padua in the Age of Dante (London, 1966), 193–94.

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In the Footsteps of the Ancients: The Origins of Humanism from Lovato to Bruni
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Table of Contents *
  • Acknowledgements vii
  • Abbreviations xi
  • Chapter One - Introduction 1
  • Chapter Two - The Birth of the New Aesthetic 31
  • Chapter Three - Padua and the Origins of Humanism 81
  • Chapter Four - Albertino Mussato and the Second Generation 117
  • Chapter Five - Florence and Vernacular Learning 174
  • Chapter Six - Petrarch, Father of Humanism? 230
  • Chapter Seven - Coluccio Salutati 292
  • Chapter Eight - The Revival of Oratory 338
  • Chapter Nine - Leonardo Bruni 392
  • Chapter Ten - The First Ciceronianism 443
  • Chapter Eleven - Conclusion 495
  • Appendix 509
  • Bibliography 515
  • Index of Persons 549
  • Index of Places 556
  • Index of Subjects 558
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