Sunday, December 25, 2011

study imperfect, but the origins of the dazzling renaissance

In the winter of 1417 the papal secretary Poggio Bracciolini made a great discovery. In an abbey in Germany found a manuscript of a long lost classic poem, Lucretius

De Rerum Natura

("On the nature of the universe"). This event is vividly described by the scholar Stephen Greenblatt in Renaissance tour . He sees it as the source of rebirth and, indeed, of modernity.

What was the poem Poggio rediscovered? Lucretia was an avid follower Greek philosopher Epicurus. He believed that the gods are not affected by the fatal cases and did not create the universe, which is composed of tiny particles. These atoms move continuously and randomly in space. How do they "deviate" from the direct course, and can hit each other. Life is a result of this change, as atoms are assembled so as to enable us to see and breathe. At some point, our atoms are released and pass through its course in the eternal void. This meant that there was no beyond, no eternal reward for virtue, and no eternal punishment for vice. Because of the human being must not fear death. During the short period in which we live and feel the desire, the pleasure is just to look. Nothing else matters.

Lucretia created from the philosophical beliefs of a poem in the same league as Dante

Divine Comedy and Milton Paradise Lost

De Rerum Natura

contains passionate arguments against the fear of death, descriptions and a few impressive. Lucretius describes a totally free source of God of life, in which living things just pull of the earth, not through the actions of a creator, but as a result of the vital forces of the universe.

not difficult to imagine why Lucretius was not popular in the Middle Ages. Other pagan philosophers like Plato and Aristotle, is left for a creator. Their ethical systems could, with some sculptures and shaking, should be provided with the Christian doctrine. Epicureanism, however, would simply not necessary. Although it was actually an austere philosophy in which "fun" means freedom from pain and fear rather than self-indulgence, Epicureanism was identified among the most Christian writers of self- indulgence pig. St. Jerome even said in the fourth century that Lucretius (whose life we ??know almost nothing) has gone mad with love, and then himself. Over time, but as expected, the great medieval monasteries preserved classical texts by copying the manuscripts of the patient came for him to leave.


The story is told with style and panache all Greenblatt. It brings the quiet work of a medieval scriptorium to life by describing the development of sign language to indicate that the scribes had to read the manuscript, a scribe named for a pagan text particularly offensive, as Lucretius, putting two fingers in mouth "as gag." To show how the Roman elite epicurean value takes us beneath the ashes of Herculaneum in the "House of papyrus", where fragments of Lucretius and other epicureans have been discovered, and uses this setting to evoke the richness of life Roman philosophy. That conveys the passion for classical texts and the past attracted to humans as Poggio a look in the monastic libraries, as he shares his fascination for the recovery and discovery.

But is it correct to identify the recovery of Lucretia with the beginning of the Renaissance? A Poggio found
De Rerum Natura

, Greenblatt argues, discovered "a book that helps to remove when your whole world," bringing a concern for worldly pleasures of the moral life . Greenblatt traces atomism of Lucretius in astronomy of Galileo and Newton's physics. Follow the "tour" of the atoms of Lucretius little works of Shakespeare and Montaigne. Even to see the emphasis on fun in the
Utopia devout Catholic Sir Thomas More as a result of Lucretia. Discovery of Poggio, he said, caused a release of scientific thought and religion is spreading in Europe.

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