Greek and LatinClassics by Cicero, Vergil, Horace, Plato and Livy

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Established in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries to counter the limited ideals of medieval scholasticism, Renaissance Humanism were educational and social reform ideals that sought to emphasize individualism as a central value in contrast to religious beliefs. Humanists revered the dignity of human kind and called for a life of virtuous action. The writings of Petrarch and Pico exemplify humanist thought by displaying the values of self-knowledge, individualism, and studying lessons from the past; appealing to the authorities of the Greek and Latin classics by Cicero, Vergil, Horace, Plato and Livy. Petrarch and Pico’s thinking can be constituted as a marked departure from medieval attitudes and beliefs, due to the origins of humanist resources being classical and biblical rather stemmed from medieval philosophers and theologians.
Petrarch, considered the “father of humanism,” derived a great deal of inspiration from Greek and Roman philosophers such as Cicero, Livy, Vergil, and Horace. In “The Ascent of Mont Ventoux,” Petrarch writes about climbing to the top of Mont Ventoux detailing his journey to the top. The essay presents the themes of studying lessons from the past and self-knowledge. As Petrarch makes his way up the mountain, he comes across an old Shepard, “we found an old shepherd in one of the mountain dales, who tried, at great length, to dissuade us from the ascent, saying that some fifty years before he had, in the same ardour of youth, reached the summit, but had gotten for his pains nothing except fatigue and regret… No one… had ever tried the ascent before or after him. But his counsels increased rather than diminished our desire to proceed, since youth is suspicious of warnings.” The old shepherd symb...

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...dualism. Petrarch’s writings emphasized the value of the historical past and self-knowledge, whereas Pico, less secular than Petrarch, stressed individualism and the importance of intelligence, allowing man to reach a higher state of being. Renaissance humanism highlighted the importance of education and wisdom through the study of ancient Latin and Greek classics, opposing medieval religious beliefs.

Works Cited

Kagan, Donald, Steven Ozment, and Frank M. Turner. "Renaissance and Discovery." In The Western Heritage . Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007The Ascent of Mount Ventoux." The Ascent of Mount Ventoux. http://history.hanover.edu/texts/petrarch/pet17.html (accessed ). della Mirandola, Giovanni Pico. "Oration on the Dignity of Man." Oration on the Dignity of Man. http://vserver1.cscs.lsa.umich.edu/~crshalizi/Mirandola/ (accessed April 23, 2014).

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