Renaissance Society and Culture

By John Monfasani; Ronald G. Musto | Go to book overview

A Tribute to
Eugene E Rice, Jr.

PAUL OSKAR KRISTELLER

This month, as I write, Eugene Rice is celebrating his sixty-fifth birthday. I am pleased that his friends, colleagues, and former students are honoring him on this occasion with a volume of studies and that I have been given the opportunity to pay my tribute to him as a scholar and as a cherished colleague and friend of long standing.

As most leading American Renaissance historians of his generation, Gene owes his training to the excellent instruction and guidance received at Harvard from the late Myron Gilmore. Gene's special interest in the French Renaissance may be due to his stay in France during the Second World War, and especially to the two years he spent as a graduate fellow, prior to his doctorate, at the Ecole Normale Supérieure. His career as a scholar began when he was still a graduate student at Harvard and wrote a research paper on Erasmus and the religious tradition that was immediately published in the Journal of the History of Ideas and republished many years later in a volume of Renaissance essays from that journal edited by Philip Wiener and myself.

Gene's first major publication was an excellent book, based on his dissertation and entitled The Renaissance Idea of Wisdom, in which he gave a comprehensive and well documented history of a major philosophical concept, tracing it from Petrarch to Montaigne and Charron. In a series of substantial articles, Gene has dealt with Colet, Cusanus, Lefèvre d'Étaples, and Grolier, with the influence of the Greek medical writer Paul of Aegina, and with such significant topics as the Renaissance idea of Christian antiquity and the impact of patristic literature on Renaissance thought, a subject to which he also dedicated his contribution to the voluminous recent work on Renaissance humanism edited by Albert Rabil. In its size as well as in its masterful command of historical and philological methods and techniques, Gene's most impressive contribution is his annotated edition of the prefatory epistles of Jacques Lefèvre d'Étaples. It puts into proper perspective the work of a leading French scholar and thinker of the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries who was in close touch with many distinguished contemporaries and had a very great impact, not always appreciated, on the history of Aristotelianism, Platonism, Hermeticism, and magic during the sixteenth century.

-xiii-

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