Italian Culture of the Renaissance and its Expansion Part 2
It is almost full reconciliation with Rome and with the classical world in general, with the world of the pagan gods, no longer “false and liars”. Since after Rome we discover Greece, more and more revealed, after the first irregular contacts through the Byzantine provinces of the South, after the first progress of the 14th century in the knowledge of Greek, from the travels of erudition in the East, from the Byzantine scholars who came for the concilî of Ferrara and Florence or refugees after the fall of Constantinople, from the codes collected by the hundreds over there by the work of the new pilgrims who foresaw the impending Turkish storm and ran to save those venerable leftovers. The center of this interest is especially Rome and Latinity. This external story reflected the intimate story of classical culture and culture in general, which passed from clerics to laity or, if you like, it received an imprint from the laity, from the laity it had assigned limits, ends, character, from the laity it was, in a certain sense, also imposed on men of the church, as a culture having absolute value. Rome and ancient civilization are also seen and loved in their own right. Indeed, the maximum effort is to rediscover its genuine face, under the Christian interpretations and deformations, behind the encumbrance of glosses and comments. And since they are seen and loved in themselves, they are loved in all their manifestations: literature, art, thought, even customs and religion. Not only as an object of study, but as an object worthy of imitation. Rome was once again becoming a great teacher. And the whole culture was invested and permeated by it. According to SEARCHFORPUBLICSCHOOLS, that human and earthly vision that attributed an intrinsic value to life was clarified and expanded.
It seemed, this immersion all in the admiration and study of classical antiquity, was like an estrangement from life. Moreover, the new humanists often have a sense of boredom and disinterest in politics and the outside world and the desire to find comfort in that world of thoughts and images that drew nourishment from the classics. There is a widespread contrast between the ancient and the present, which is looked upon almost with contempt. However, the humanistic culture was born of life, it was united by a thousand bonds to life, it flourished in what had been and were centers of the industrious and innovative bourgeoisie. Its primary object was man and the problems of the human soul, those of politics and civil coexistence; he drew from his centralization in man that unity and organicity which the old medieval encyclopedism lacked; it was the culture of men who lived in the practice of politics and business. Suffice it to recall Leonardo Bruni chancellor and historian of the Florentine republic, Giovanni Pontano minister of the king of Naples, Pandolfo Collenuccio ambassador and secretary of princes, Francesco Barbaro, Venetian politician and leader, Enea Silvio Piccolomini, Lorenzo the Magnificent. Widespread among humanists and cultured people of the 15th century is the need for knowledge that adheres to life, serves life, and sarcasm for the abstract philosopher, for the man of letters who is only a man of letters, adjuster of words, presumptuous and, in his vain busying himself, idle; for the man who totus deditus speculationibus ac literarum illecebris , as Vergerio says, is of little use to the city.
But here it is important to us to point out particularly how this Italian humanistic society, from Petrarch onwards, is one from Sicily to the Alps, from Corsica to Istria, with its Aurispa and Panormita, Valla and Pomponio Leto, Biondo Flavio and Guarino Veronese, Vergerio and Cariteo, Bracciolini and Filelfo; linked by the same tastes and ideals, always in contact in universities and courts or chancelleries, always in friendly correspondence or in controversy. The growing unification of the Italian spirit was expressed in this society of men. The architects and centers of this unitary life of culture had first been Palermo, Pisa, Bologna, Florence. Now, with humanism, I am Venice, which feeds Italian Hellenism, is the link between Istria and Dalmatia and Italy, and the irradiation point for the peninsula of all Dalmatian artists, it becomes a large printing workshop; Milan, where men aiming at every art and, even more, at every science, meet, Luca Pacioli the mathematician, Gerolamo Cardano naturalist, Andrea da Imola and Piattino Piatti astronomers, Marco Antonio della Torre anatomist from Verona, not to count Bramante and Leonardo. It is still Florence, which gives the first and greatest essays in humanistic historiography, boasts the Platonic Academy, offers the first literary documents of perfect fusion of old and new, generates the great fifteenth-century painting, renews the art of casting equestrian statues, creates the glorious architecture of the Brunelleschi, Rossellines, Alberti, Michelozzi, etc. Finally, Rome.