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The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy by Jacob Burckhardt

Part 3 out of 7

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whether from the insanity of conceit or by way of caricaturing famous
men--that he himself should be called divine, as one of his flatterers
had already begun to do; and he certainly attained so much personal
celebrity that his house at Arezzo passed for one of the sights of the
place. There were indeed whole months during which he never ventured to
cross his threshold at Venice, lest he should fall in with some
incensed Florentine like the younger Strozzi. Nor did he escape the
cudgels and the daggers of his enemies, although they failed to have
the effect which Berni prophesied him in a famous sonnet. Aretino died
in his house, of apoplexy.

The differences he made in his modes of flattery are remarkable: in
dealing with non-Italians he was grossly fulsome; people like Duke
Cosimo of Florence he treated very differently. He praised the beauty
of the then youthful prince, who in fact did share this quality with
Augustus in no ordinary degree; he praised his moral conduct, with an
oblique reference to the financial pursuits of Cosimo's mother, Maria
Salviati, and concluded with a mendicant whine about the bad times and
so forth. When Cosimo pensioned him, which he did liberally,
considering his habitual parsimony--to the extent, at least, of 160
ducats a year--he had doubtless an eye to Aretino's dangerous character
as Spanish agent. Aretino could ridicule and revile Cosimo, and in the
same breath threaten the Florentine agent that he would obtain from the
Duke his immediate recall; and if the Medicean prince felt himself at
last to be seen through by Charles V he would naturally not be anxious
that Aretino's jokes and rhymes against him should circulate at the
Imperial court. A curiously qualified piece of flattery was that
addressed to the notorious Marquis of Marignano, who as Castellan of
Musso had attempted to found an independent State. Thanking him for the
gift of a hundred crowns, Aretino writes: 'All the qualities which a
prince should have are present in you, and all men would think so, were
it not that the acts of violence inevitable at the beginning of all
undertakings cause you to appear a trifle rough _(aspro).'

_

It has often been noticed as something singular that Aretino only
reviled the world, and not God also. The religious belief of a man who
lived as he did is a matter of perfect indifference, as are also the
edifying writings which he composed for reasons of his own. It is in
fact hard to say why he should have been a blasphemer. He was no
professor, or theoretical thinker or writer; and he could extort no
money from God by threats or flattery, and was consequently never
goaded into blasphemy by a refusal. A man like him does not take
trouble for nothing.

It is a good sign for the present spirit of Italy that such a character
and such a career have become a thousand times impossible. But
historical criticism will always find in Aretino an important study.

Part Three

The Revival of Antiquity

Introductory

Now that this point in our historical view of Italian civilization has
been reached, it is time to speak of the influence of antiquity, the
'new birth' of which has been one-sidedly chosen as the name to sum up
the whole period. The conditions which have been hitherto described
would have sufficed, apart from antiquity, to upturn and to mature the
national mind; and most of the intellectual tendencies which yet remain
to be noticed would be conceivable without it. But both what has gone
before and what we have still to discuss are colored in a thousand ways
by the influence of the ancient world; and though the essence of the
phenomena might still have been the same without the classical revival,
it is only with and through this revival that they are actually
manifested to us. The Renaissance would not have been the process of
world-wide significance which it is, if its elements could be so easily
separated from one another. We must insist upon it, as one of the chief
propositions of this book, that it was not the revival of antiquity
alone, but its union with the genius of the Italian people, which
achieved the conquest of the western world. The amount of independence
which the national spirit maintained in this union varied according to
circumstances. In the modern Latin literature of the period, it is very
small, while in the visual arts, as well as in other spheres, it is
remarkably great; and hence the alliance between two distant epochs in
the civilization of the same people, because concluded on equal terms,
proved justifiable and fruitful. The rest of Europe was free either to
repel or else partly or wholly to accept the mighty impulse which came
forth from Italy. Where the latter was the case we may as well be
spared the complaints over the early decay of mediaeval faith and
civilization. Had these been strong enough to hold their ground, they
would be alive to this day. If those elegiac natures which long to see
them return could pass but one hour in the midst of them, they would
gasp to be back in modern air. That in a great historical process of
this kind flowers of exquisite beauty may perish, without being made
immortal in poetry or tradition, is undoubtedly true; nevertheless, we
cannot wish the process undone. The general result of it consists in
this--that by the side of the Church which had hitherto held the
countries of the West together (though it was unable to do so much
longer) there arose a new spiritual influence which, spreading itself
abroad from Italy, became the breath of life for all the more
instructed minds in Europe. The worst that can be said of the movement
is, that it was antipopular, that through it Europe became for the
first time sharply divided into the cultivated and uncultivated
classes. The reproach will appear groundless when we reflect that even
now the fact, though clearly recognized, cannot be altered. The
separation, too, is by no means so cruel and absolute in Italy as
elsewhere. The most artistic of her poets, Tasso, is in the hands of
even the poorest.

The civilization of Greece and Rome, which, ever since the fourteenth
century, obtained so powerful a hold on Italian life, as the source and
basis of culture, as the object and ideal of existence, partly also as
an avowed reaction against preceding tendencies--this civilization had
long been exerting a partial influence on mediaeval Europe, even beyond
the boundaries of Italy. The culture of which Charlemagne was a
representative was, in face of the barbarism of the seventh and eighth
centuries, essentially a Renaissance, and could appear under no other
form. Just as in the Romanesque architecture of the North, beside the
general outlines inherited from antiquity, remarkable direct imitations
of the antique also occur, so too monastic scholarship had not only
gradually absorbed an immense mass of materials from Roman writers, but
the style of it, from the days of Einhard onwards, shows traces of
conscious imitation.

But the resuscitation of antiquity took a different form in Italy from
that which it assumed in the North. The wave of barbarism had scarcely
gone by before the people, in whom the former life was but half
effaced, showed a consciousness of its past and a wish to reproduce it.
Elsewhere in Europe men deliberately and with reflection borrowed this
or the other element of classical civilization; in Italy the sympathies
both of the learned and of the people were naturally engaged on the
side of antiquity as a whole, which stood to them as a symbol of past
greatness. The Latin language, too, was easy to an Italian, and the
numerous monuments and documents in which the country abounded
facilitated a return to the past. With this tendency other elements--
the popular character which time had now greatly modified, the
political institutions imported by the Lombards from Germany, chivalry
and other northern forms of civilization, and the influence of religion
and the Church--combined to produce the modern Italian spirit, which
was destined to serve as the model and ideal for the whole western
world.

How antiquity influenced the visual arts, as soon as the flood of
barbarism had subsided, is clearly shown in the Tuscan buildings of the
twelfth and in the sculptures of the thirteenth centuries. In poetry,
too, there will appear no want of similar analogies to those who hold
that the greatest Latin poet of the twelfth century, the writer who
struck the keynote of a whole class of Latin poems, was an Italian. We
mean the author of the best pieces in the so-called 'Carmina Burana.' A
frank enjoyment of life and its pleasures, as whose patrons the gods of
heathendom are invoked, while Catos and Scipios hold the place of the
saints and heroes of Christianity, flows in full current through the
rhymed verses. Reading them through at a stretch, we can scarcely help
coming to the conclusion that an Italian, probably a Lombard, is
speaking; in fact, there are positive grounds for thinking so. To a
certain degree these Latin poems of the 'Clerici vagantes' of the
twelfth century, with all their remarkable frivolity, are, doubtless, a
product in which the whole of Europe had a share; but the writer of the
song 'De Phyllide et Flora' and the 'Aestuans Interius' can have been a
northerner as little as the polished Epicurean observer to whom we owe
'Dum Diana vitrea sero lampas oritur.' Here, in truth, is a
reproduction of the whole ancient view of life, which is all the more
striking from the medieval form of the verse in which it is set forth.
There are many works of this and the following centuries, in which a
careful imitation of the antique appears both in the hexameter and
pentameter of the meter and in the classical, often myth- ological,
character of the subject, and which yet have not anything like the same
spirit of antiquity about them. In the hexametric chronicles and other
works of Guglielmus Apuliensis and his successors (from about 1100), we
find frequent trace of a diligent study of Virgil, Ovid, Lucan,
Statius, and Claudian; but this classical form is, after all, a mere
matter of archaeology, as is the classical subject in compilers like
Vincent of Beauvais, or in the mythological and allegorical writer,
Alanus ab Insulis. The Renaissance, however, is not a fragmentary
imitation or compilation, but a new birth; and the signs of this are
visible in the poems of the unknown 'Clericus' of the twelfth century.

But the great and general enthusiasm of the Italians for Classical
antiquity did not display itself before the fourteenth century. For
this a development of civic life was required, which took place only in
Italy, and there not till then. It was needful that noble and burgher
should first learn to dwell together on equal terms, and that a social
world should arise which felt the want of culture, and had the leisure
and the means to obtain it. But culture, as soon as it freed itself
from the fantastic bonds of the Middle Ages, could not at once and
without help find its way to the understanding of the physical and
intellectual world. It needed a guide, and found one in the ancient
civilization, with its wealth of truth and knowledge in every spiritual
interest. Both the form and the substance of this civilization were
adopted with admiring gratitude; it became the chief part of the
culture of the age. The general condition of the country was favourable
to this transformation. The medieval empire, since the fall of the
Hohenstaufen, had either renounced, or was unable to make good, its
claims on Italy. The Popes had migrated to Avignon. Most of the
political powers actually existing owed their origin to violent and
illegitimate means. The spirit of the people, now awakened to self-
consciousness, sought for some new and stable ideal on which to rest.
And thus the vision of the world-wide empire of Italy and Rome so
possessed the popular mind that Cola di Rienzi could actually attempt
to put it in practice. The conception he formed of his task,
particularly when tribune for the first time, could only end in some
extravagant comedy; nevertheless, the memory of ancient Rome was no
slight support to the national sentiment. Armed afresh with its
culture, the Italian soon felt himself in truth citizen of the most
advanced nation in the world.

It is now our task to sketch this spiritual movement, not indeed in all
its fullness, but in its most salient features, and especially in its
first beginnings.

The Ruins of Rome

Rome itself, the city of ruins, now became the object of a holly
different sort of piety from that of the time when the 'Mirabilia Roma'
and the collection of William of Malmesbury ere composed. The
imaginations of the devout pilgrim, or of the seeker after marvels and
treasures, are supplanted in contemporary records by the interests of
the patriot and the historian. In this sense we must understand Dante's
words, that the stones of the walls of Rome deserve reverence, and that
the ground on which the city is built is more worthy than men say. The
jubilees, incessant as they were, have scarcely left a single devout
record in literature properly so called. The best thing that Giovanni
Villani brought back from the jubilee of the year 1300 was the
resolution to write his history which bad been awakened in him by the
sight of the ruins of Rome. Petrarch gives evidence of a taste divided
between classical and Christian antiquity. He tells us how often with
Giovanni Colonna he ascended the mighty vaults of the Baths of
Diocletian, and there in the transparent air, amid the wide silence
with the broad panorama stretching far around them, they spoke, not of
business or political affairs, but of the history which the ruins
beneath their feet suggested, Petrarch appearing in these dialogues as
the partisan of classical, Giovanni of Christian antiquity; then they
would discourse of philosophy and of the inventors of the arts. How
often since that time, down to the days of Gibbon and Niebuhr, have the
same ruins stirred men's minds to the same reflections!

This double current of feeling is also recognizable in the 'Dittamondo'
of Fazio degli Uberti, composed about the year 1360--a description of
visionary travels, in which the author is accompanied by the old
geographer Solinus, as Dante was by Virgil. They visit Bari in memory
of St. Nicholas, and Monte Gargano of the archangel Michael, and in
Rome the legends of Aracoeli and of Santa Maria in Trastevere are
mentioned. Still, the pagan splendor of ancient Rome unmistakably
exercises a greater charm upon them. A venerable matron in torn
garments--Rome herself is meant--tells them of the glorious past, and
gives them a minute description of the old triumphs; she then leads the
strangers through the city, and points out to them the seven hills and
many of the chief ruins--'che comprender potrai, quanto fui bella.'

Unfortunately this Rome of the schismatic and Avignonese popes was no
longer, in respect of classical remains, what it had been some
generations earlier. The destruction of 140 fortified houses of the
Roman nobles by the senator Brancaleone in 1257 must have wholly
altered the character of the most important buildings then standing:
for the nobles had no doubt ensconced themselves in the loftiest and
best-preserved of the ruins. Nevertheless, far more was left than we
now find, and probably many of the remains had still their marble
incrustation, their pillared entrances, and their other ornaments,
where we now see nothing but the skeleton of brickwork. In this state
of things, the first beginnings of a topographical study of the old
city were made.

In Poggio's walks through Rome the study of the remains themselves is
for the first time more intimately combined with that of the ancient
authors and inscriptions--the latter he sought out from among all the
vegetation in which they were imbedded--the writer's imagination is
severely restrained, and the memories of Christian Rome carefully
excluded. The only pity is that Poggio's work was not fuller and was
not illustrated with sketches. Far more was left in his time than was
found by Raphael eighty years later. He saw the tomb of Caecilia
Metella and the columns in front of one of the temples on the slope of
the Capitol, first in full preservation, and then afterwards half
destroyed, owing to that unfortunate quality which marble possesses of
being easily burnt into lime. A vast colonnade near the Minerva fell
piecemeal a victim to the same fate. A witness in the year 1443 tells
us that this manufacture of lime still went on: 'which is a shame, for
the new buildings are pitiful, and the beauty of Rome is in its ruins.'
The inhabitants of that day, in their peasant's cloaks and boots,
looked to foreigners like cowherds; and in fact the cattle were
pastured in the city up to the Banchi. The only social gatherings were
the services at church, on which occasion it was possible also to get a
sight of the beautiful women.

In the last years of Eugenius IV (d. 1447) Biondus of Forli wrote his
'Roma Instaurata,' making use of Frontinus and of the old 'Libri
Regionali,' as well as, it seems, of Anastasius. His object is not only
the description of what existed, but still more the recovery of what
was lost. In accordance with the dedication to the Pope, he consoles
himself for the general ruin by the thought of the precious relics of
the saints in which Rome was so rich.

With Nicholas V (1447-1455) that new monumental spirit which was
distinctive of the age of the Renaissance appeared on the papal throne.
The new passion for embellishing the city brought with it on the one
hand a fresh danger for the ruins, on the other a respect for them, as
forming one of Rome's claims to distinction. Pius II was wholly
possessed by antiquarian enthusiasm, and if he speaks little of the
antiquities of Rome, he closely studied those of all other parts of
Italy, and was the first to know and describe accurately the remains
which abounded in the districts for miles around the capital. It is
true that, both as priest and cosmographer, he was interested alike in
classical and Christian monuments and in the marvels of nature. Or was
he doing violence to himself when he wrote that Nola was more highly
honoured by the memory of St. Paulinus than by all its classical
reminiscences and by the heroic struggle of Marcellus? Not, indeed,
that his faith in relics was assumed; but his mind was evidently rather
disposed to an inquiring interest in nature and antiquity, to a zeal
for monumental works, to a keen and delicate observation of human life.
In the last years of his Papacy, afflicted with the gout and yet in the
most cheerful mood, he was borne in his litter over hill and dale to
Tusculum, Alba, Tibur, Ostia, Falerii, and Otriculum, and whatever he
saw he noted down. He followed the Roman roads and aqueducts, and tried
to fix the boundaries of the old tribes which had dwelt round the city.
On an excursion to Tivoli with the great Federigo of Urbino the time
was happily spent in talk on the military system of the ancients, and
particularly on the Trojan war. Even on his journey to the Congress of
Mantua (1459) he searched, though unsuccessfully, for the labyrinth of
Clusium mentioned by Pliny, and visited the so-called villa of Virgil
on the Mincio. That such a Pope should demand a classical Latin style
from his abbreviators, is no more than might be expected. It was he
who, in the war with Naples, granted an amnesty to the men of Arpinum,
as countrymen of Cicero and Marius, after whom many of them were named.
It was to him alone, as both judge and patron, that Blondus could
dedicate his 'Roma Triumphans,' the first great attempt at a complete
exposition of Roman antiquity.

Nor was the enthusiasm for the classical past of Italy confined at this
period to the capital. Boccaccio had already called the vast ruins of
Baia 'old walls, yet new for modern spirits'; and since his time they
were held to be the most interesting sight near Naples. Collections of
antiquities of all sorts now became common. Ciriaco of Ancona (d. 1457)
travelled not only through Italy, but through other countries of the
old Orbis terrarum, and brought back countless inscriptions and
sketches. When asked why he took all this trouble, he replied, 'To wake
the dead.' The histories of the various cities of Italy had from the
earliest times laid claim to some true or imagined connection with
Rome, had alleged some settlement or colonization which started from
the capital; and the obliging manufacturers of pedigrees seem
constantly to have derived various families from the oldest and most
famous blood of Rome. So highly was the distinction valued, that men
clung to it even in the light of the dawning criticism of the fifteenth
century. When Pius II was at Viterbo he said frankly to the Roman
deputies who begged him to return, 'Rome is as much my home as Siena,
for my House, the Piccolomini, came in early times from the capital to
Siena, as is proved by the constant use of the names 'neas and Sylvius
in my family.' He would probably have had no objection to be held a
descendant of the Julii. Paul II, a Barbo of Venice, found his vanity
flattered by deducing his House, notwithstanding an adverse pedigree,
according to which it came from Germany, from the Roman Ahenobarbus,
who had led a colony to Parma, and whose successors had been driven by
party conflicts to migrate to Venice. That the Massimi claimed descent
from Q. Fabius Maximus, and the Cornaro from the Cornelii, cannot
surprise us. On the other hand, it is a strikingly exceptional fact for
the sixteenth century that the novelist Bandello tried to connect his
blood with a noble family of Ostrogoths.

To return to Rome. The inhabitants, 'who then called themselves
Romans,' accepted greedily the homage which was offered them by the
rest of Italy. Under Paul II, Sixtus IV and Alexander VI, magnificent
processions formed part of the Carnival, representing the scene most
attractive to the imagination of the time- -the triumph of the Roman
Imperator. The sentiment of the people expressed itself naturally in
this shape and others like it. In this mood of public feeling, a report
arose on April 18, 1485, that the corpse of a young Roman lady of the
classical period--wonderfully beautiful and in perfect preservation--
had been discovered. Some Lombard masons digging out an ancient tomb on
an estate of the convent of Santa Maria Nuova, on the Appian Way,
beyond the tomb of Caecilia Metella, were said to have found a marble
sarcophagus with the inscription: 'Julia, daughter of Claudius.' On
this basis the following story was built. The Lombards disappeared with
the jewels and treasure which were found with the corpse in the
sarcophagus. The body had been coated with an antiseptic essence, and
was as fresh and flexible as that of a girl of fifteen the hour after
death. It was said that she still kept the colors of life, with eyes
and mouth half open. She was taken to the palace of the 'Conservatori'
on the Capitol; and then a pilgrimage to see her began. Among the crowd
were many who came to paint her; 'for she was more beautiful than can
be said or written, and, were it said or written, it would not be
believed by those who had not seen her.' By order of Innocent VIII she
was secretly buried one night outside the Pincian Gate; the empty
sarcophagus remained in the court of the 'Conservatori.' Probably a
colored mask of wax or some other material was modelled in the
classical style on the face of the corpse, with which the gilded hair
of which we read would harmonize admirably. The touching point in the
story is not the fact itself, but the firm belief that an ancient body,
which was now thought to be at last really before men's eyes, must of
necessity be far more beautiful than anything of modern date.

Meanwhile the material knowledge of old Rome was increased by
excavations. Under Alexander VI the so-called 'Grotesques,' that is,
the mural decorations of the ancients, were discovered, and the Apollo
of the Belvedere was found at Porto d'Anzio. Under Julius II followed
the memorable discoveries of the Laocoon, of the Venus of the Vatican,
of the Torso of the Cleopatra. The palaces of the nobles and the
cardinals began to be filled with ancient statues and fragments.
Raphael undertook for Leo X that ideal restoration of the whole ancient
city which his (or Castiglione's) celebrated letter (1518 or 1519)
speaks of. After a bitter complaint over the devastations which had not
even then ceased, and which had been particularly frequent under Julius
II, he beseeches the Pope to protect the few relics which were left to
testify to the power and greatness of that divine soul of antiquity
whose memory was inspiration to all who were capable of higher things.
He then goes on with penetrating judgement to lay the foundations of a
comparative history of art, and concludes by giving the definition of
an architectural survey which has been accepted since his time; he
requires the ground plan, section and elevation separately of every
building that remained. How archaeology devoted itself after his day to
the study of the venerated city and grew into a special science, and
how the Vitruvian Academy at all events proposed to itself great him,
cannot here be related. Let us rather pause at the days of Leo X, under
whom the enjoyment of antiquity combined with all other pleasures to
give to Roman life a unique stamp and consecration. The Vatican
resounded with song and music, and their echoes were heard through the
city as a call to joy and gladness, though Leo did not succeed thereby
in banishing care and pain from his own life, and his deliberate
calculation to prolong his days by cheerfulness was frustrated by an
early death. The Rome of Leo, as described by Paolo Giovio, forms a
picture too splendid to turn away from, unmistakable as are also its
darker aspects--the slavery of those who were struggling to rise; the
secret misery of the prelates, who, notwithstanding heavy debts, were
forced to live in a style befitting their rank; the system of literary
patronage, which drove men to be parasites or adventurers; and, lastly,
the scandalous maladministration of the finances of the State. Yet the
same Ariosto who knew and ridiculed all this so well, gives in the
sixth satire a longing picture of his expected intercourse with the
accomplished poets who would conduct him through the city of ruins, of
the learned counsel which he would there find for his own literary
efforts, and of the treasures of the Vatican library. These, he says,
and not the long-abandoned hope of Medicean protection, were the baits
which really attracted him, if he were again asked to go as Ferrarese
ambassador to Rome.

But the ruins within and outside Rome awakened not only archaeological
zeal and patriotic enthusiasm, but an elegiac of sentimental
melancholy. In Petrarch and Boccaccio we find touches of this feeling.
Poggio Bracciolini often visited the temple of Venus and Roma, in the
belief that it was that of Castor and Pollux, where the senate used so
often to meet, and would lose himself in memories of the great orators
Crassus, Hortensius, Cicero. The language of Pius II, especially in
describing Tivoli, has a thoroughly sentimental ring, and soon
afterwards (1467) appeared the first pictures of ruins, with a
commentary by Polifilo. Ruins of mighty arches and colonnades, half hid
in plane-trees, laurels, cypresses and brushwood, figure in his pages.
In the sacred legends it became the custom, we can hardly say how, to
lay the scene of the birth of Christ in the ruins of a magnificent
palace. That artificial ruins became afterwards a necessity of
landscape gardening is only a practical consequence of this feeling.

The Classics

But the literary bequests of antiquity, Greek as well as Latin, were of
far more importance than the architectural, and indeed than all the
artistic remains which it had left. They were held in the most absolute
sense to be the springs of all knowledge. The literary conditions of
that age of great discoveries have often been set forth; no more can
here be attempted than to point out a few less-known features of the
picture.

Great as was the influence of the old writers on the Italian mind in
the fourteenth century and before, yet that influence was due rather to
the wide diffusion of what bad long been known than to the discovery of
much that was new. The most popular latin poets, historians, orators
and letter-writers, to- gether with a number of Latin translations of
single works of Aristotle, Plutarch, and a few other Greek authors,
constituted the treasure from which a few favored individuals in the
time of Petrarch and Boccaccio drew their inspiration. The former, as
is well known, owned and kept with religious care a Greek Homer, which
he was unable to read. A complete Latin translation of the Iliad and
Odyssey, though a very bad one, vas made at Petrarch's suggestion, and
with Boccaccio's help, by a Calabrian Greek, Leonzio Pilato. But with
the fifteenth century began the long list of new discoveries, the
systematic creation of libraries by means of copies, and the rapid
multiplication of translations from the Greek.

Had it not been for the enthusiasm of a few collectors of that age, who
shrank from no effort or privation in their researches, we should
certainly possess only a small part of the literature, especially that
of the Greeks, which is now in our hands. Pope Nicholas V, when only a
simple monk, ran deeply into debt through buying manuscripts or having
them copied. Even then he made no secret of his passion for the two
great interests of the Renaissance, books and buildings. As Pope he
kept his word. Copyists wrote and spies searched for him through half
the world. Perotto received 500 ducats for the Latin translation of
Polybius; Guarino, 1,000 gold florins for that of Strabo, and he would
have been paid 500 more but for the death of the Pope. Filelfo was to
have received 10,000 gold florins for a metrical translation of Homer,
and was only prevented by the Pope's death from coming from Milan to
Rome. Nicholas left a collection of 5,000 or, according to another way
of calculating, of 6,000 volumes, for the use of the members of the
Curia, which became the foundation of the library of the Vatican. It
was to be preserved in the palace itself, as its noblest ornament, the
library of Ptolemy Philadelphus at Alexandria. When the plague (1450)
drove him and his court to Fabriano, whence then, as now, the best
paper was procured, he took his translators and compilers with him,
that he might run no risk of losing them.

The Florentine Niccolo Niccoli, a member of that accomplished circle of
friends which surrounded the elder Cosimo de' Medici, spent his whole
fortune in buying books. At last, when his money was all gone, the
Medici put their purse at his disposal for any sum which his purpose
might require. We owe to him the later books of Ammianus Marcellinus,
the 'De Oratore' of Cicero, and other works; he persuaded Cosimo to buy
the best manuscript of Pliny from a monastery at Lubeck. With noble
confidence he lent his books to those who asked for them, allowed all
comers to study them in his own house, and was ready to converse with
the students on what they had read. His collection of 800 volumes,
valued at 6,000 gold florins, passed after his death, through Cosimo's
intervention, to the monastery of San Marco, on the condition that it
should be accessible to the public.

Of the two great book-finders, Guarino and Poggio, the latter, on the
occasion of the Council of Constance and acting partly as the agent of
Niccoli, searched industriously among the abbeys of South Germany. He
there discovered six orations of Cicero, and the first complete
Quintilian, that of St. Gallen, now at Zurich; in thirty-two days he is
said to have copied the whole of it in a beautiful handwriting. He was
able to make important additions to Silius Italicus, Manilius,
Lucretius, Valerius Flaccus, Asconius Pedianus, Columella, Celsus,
Aulus Gellius, Statius, and others; and with the help of Leonardo
Aretino he unearthed the last twelve comedies of Plautus, as well as
the Verrine orations.

The famous Greek, Cardinal Bessarion, in whom patriotism was mingled
with a zeal for letters, collected, at a great sacrifice, 600
manuscripts of pagan and Christian authors. He then looked round for
some receptacle where they could safely lie until his unhappy country,
if she ever regained her freedom, could reclaim her lost literature.
The Venetian government declared itself ready to erect a suitable
building, and to this day the Biblioteca Marciana retains a part of
these treasures.

The formation of the celebrated Medicean library has a history of its
own, into which we cannot here enter. The chief collector for Lorenzo
il Magnifico was Johannes Lascaris. It is well known that the
collection, after the plundering in the year 1494, had to be recovered
piecemeal by the Cardinal Giovanni Medici, afterwards Leo X.

The library of Urbino, now in the Vatican, was wholly the work of the
great Federigo of Montefeltro. As a boy he had begun to collect; in
after years he kept thirty or forty 'scrittori' employed in various
places, and spent in the course of time no less than 30,000 ducats on
the collection. It was systematically extended and completed, chiefly
by the help of Vespasiano, and his account of it forms an ideal picture
of a library of the Renaissance. At Urbino there were catalogues of the
libraries of the Vatican, of St. Mark at Florence, of the Visconti at
Pavia, and even of the library at Oxford. It was noted with pride that
in richness and completeness none could rival Urbino. Theology and the
Middle Ages were perhaps most fully represented. There was a complete
Thomas Aquinas, a complete Albertus Magnus, a complete Bonaventura. The
collection, however, was a many-sided one, and included every work on
medicine which was then to be had. Among the 'moderns' the great
writers of the fourteenth century--Dante and Boccaccio, with their
complete works--occupied the first place. Then followed twenty-five
select humanists, invariably with both their Latin and Italian writings
and with all their translations. Among the Greek manuscripts the
Fathers of the Church far outnumbered the rest; yet in the list of the
classics we find all the works of Sophocles, all of Pindar, and all of
Menander. The last codex must have quickly disappeared from Urbino,
else the philologists would have soon edited it.

We have, further, a good deal of information as to the way in which
manuscripts and libraries were multiplied. The purchase of an ancient
manuscript, which contained a rare, or the only complete, or the only
existing text of an old writer, was naturally a lucky accident of which
we need take no further account. Among the professional copyists those
who understood Greek took the highest place, and it was they especially
who bore the honorable name of 'scrittori.' Their number was always
limited, and the pay they received very large. The rest, simply called
'copisti,' were partly mere clerks who made their living by such work,
partly schoolmasters and needy men of learning, who desired an addition
to their income. The copyists at Rome in the time of Nicholas V were
mostly Germans or Frenchmen--'barbarians' as the Italian humanists
called them, probably men who were in search of favours at the papal
court, and who kept themselves alive meanwhile by this means. When
Cosimo de' Medici was in a hurry to form a library for his favorite
foundation, the Badia below Fiesole, he sent for Vespasiano, and
received from him the advice to give up all thoughts of purchasing
books, since those which were worth getting could not be had easily,
but rather to make use of the copyists; whereupon Cosimo bargained to
pay him so much a day, and Vespasiano, with forty-five writers under
him, delivered 200 volumes in twenty-two months. The catalogue of the
works to be copied was sent to Cosimo by Nicholas V, who wrote it with
his own hand. Ecclesiastical literature and the books needed for the
choral services naturally held the chief place in the list.

The handwriting was that beautiful modern Italian which was already in
use in the preceding century, and which makes the sight of one of the
books of that time a pleasure. Pope Nicholas V, Poggio, Gianozzo
Manetti, Niccolo Niccoli, and other distinguished scholars, themselves
wrote a beautiful hand, and desired and tolerated none other. The
decorative adjuncts, even when miniatures formed no part of them, were
full of taste, as may be seen especially in the Laurentian manuscripts,
with the light and graceful scrolls which begin and end the lines. The
material used to write on, when the work was ordered by great or
wealthy people, was always parchment; the binding, both in the Vatican
and at Urbino, was a uniform crimson velvet with silver clasps. Where
there was so much care to show honour to the contents of a book by the
beauty of its outward form, it is intelligible that the sudden
appearance of printed books was greeted at first with anything but
favour. Federigo of Urbino 'would have been ashamed to own a printed
book.'

But the weary copyists--not those who lived by the trade, but the many
who were forced to copy a book in order to have it--rejoiced at the
German invention. It was soon applied in Italy to the multiplication
first of the Latin and then of the Greek authors, and for a long period
nowhere but in Italy, yet it spread with by no means the rapidity which
might have been expected from the general enthusiasm for these works.
After a while the modern relation between author and publisher began to
develop itself, and under Alexander VI, when it was no longer easy to
destroy a book, as Cosimo could make Filelfo promise to do, the
prohibitive censorship made its appearance.

The growth of textual criticism which accompanied the advancing study
of languages and antiquity belongs as little to the subject of this
book as the history of scholarship in general. We are here occupied,
not with the learning of the Italians in itself, but with the
reproduction of antiquity in literature and life. One word more on the
studies themselves may still be permissible.

Greek scholarship was chiefly confined to Florence and to the fifteenth
and the beginning of the sixteenth centuries. The impulse which had
proceeded from Petrarch and Boccaccio, superficial as was their own
acquaintance with Greek, was powerful, but did not tell immediately on
their contemporaries, except a few; on the other hand, the study of
Greek literature died out about the year 1520 with the last of the
colony of learned Greek exiles, and it was a singular piece of fortune
that northerners like Erasmus, the Stephani, and Budaeus had meanwhile
made themselves masters of the language. That colony had begun with
Manuel Chrysoloras and his relation John, and with George of Trebizond.
Then followed, about and after the time of the conquest of
Constantinople, John Argyropulos, Theodore Gaza, Demetrios
Chalcondylas, who brought up his sons Theophilos and Basilios to be
excellent Hellenists, Andronikos Kallistos, Marcos Musuros and the
family of Lascaris, not to mention others. But after the subjection of
Greece by the Turks was completed, the succession of scholars was
maintained only by the sons of the fugitives and perhaps here and there
by some Candian or Cyprian refugee. That the decay of Hellenistic
studies began about the time of the death of Leo X was due partly to a
general change of intellectual attitude, and to a certain satiety of
classical influences which now made itself felt; but its coincidence
with the death of the Greek fugitives was not wholly a matter of
accident. The study of Greek among the Italians appears, if we take the
year 1500 as our standard, to have been pursued with extraordinary
zeal. Many of those who then learned the language could still speak it
half a century later, in their old age, like the Popes Paul III and
Paul IV. But this sort of mastery of the study presupposes intercourse
with native Greeks.

Besides Florence, Rome and Padua nearly always maintained paid teachers
of Greek, and Verona, Ferrara, Venice, Perugia, Pavia and other cities
occasional teachers. Hellenistic studies owed a priceless debt to the
press of Aldo Manuzio at Venice, where the most important and
voluminous writers were for the first time printed in the original.
Aldo ventured his all in the enterprise; he was an editor and publisher
whose like the world has rarely seen.

Along with this classical revival, Oriental studies now assumed
considerable proportions. The controversial writings of the great
Florentine statesman and scholar, Giannozzo Manetti (d. 1459) against
the Jews afford an early instance of a complete mastery of their
language and science. His son Agnolo was from his childhood instructed
in Latin, Greek and Hebrew. The father, at the bidding of Nicholas V,
translated the whole Bible afresh, as the philologists of the time
insisted on giving up the 'Vulgata.'

Many other humanists devoted themselves before Reuchlin to the study of
Hebrew, among them Pico della Mirandola, who was not satisfied with a
knowledge of the Hebrew grammar and ScriptureS, but penetrated into the
Jewish Cabbalah and even made himself as familiar with the literature
of the Talmud as any Rabbi.

Among the Oriental languages, Arabic was studied as well as Hebrew. The
science of medicine, no longer satisfied with the older Latin
translations of the great Arab physicians, had constant recourse to the
originals, to which an easy access was offered by the Venetian
consulates in the East, where Italian doctors were regularly kept.
Hieronimo Ramusio, a Venetian physician, translated a great part of
Avicenna from the Arabic and died at Damascus in 1486. Andrea Mongaio
of Belluno lived long at Damascus for the purpose of studying Avicenna,
learnt Arabic, and emended the author's text. The Venetian government
afterwards appointed him professor of this subject at Padua.

We must here linger for a moment over Pico della Mirandola, before
passing on to the general effects of humanism. He was the only man who
loudly and vigorously defended the truth and science of all ages
against the one-sided worship of classical antiquity. He knew how to
value not only Averroes and the Jewish investigators, but also the
scholastic writers of the Middle Ages, according to the matter of their
writings. In one of his writings he makes them say, 'We shall live for
ever, not in the schools of word-catchers, but in the circle of the
wise, where they talk not of the mother of Andromache or of the sons of
Niobe, but of the deeper causes of things human and divine; he who
looks closely will see that even the barbarians had intelligence
_(mercurium), _not on the tongue but in the breast.' Himself writing a
vigorous and not inelegant Latin, and a master of clear exposition, he
despised the purism of pedants and the current over-estimate of
borrowed forms, especially when joined, as they often are, with one-
sidedness, and involving indifference to the wider truth of the things
themselves. Looking at Pico, we can guess at the lofty flight which
Italian philosophy would have taken had not the counter-reformation
annihilated the higher spiritual life of the people.

The Humanists

Who now were those who acted as mediators between their own age and a
venerated antiquity, and made the latter a chief element in the culture
of the former?

They were a crowd of the most miscellaneous sort, wearing one face
today and another tomorrow; but they clearly felt themselves, and it
was fully recognized by their time that they formed, a wholly new
element in society. The 'clerici vagantes' of the twelfth century may
perhaps be taken as their forerun- ners--the same unstable existence,
the same free and more than free views of life, and the germs at all
events of the same pagan tendencies in their poetry. But now, as
competitor with the whole culture of the Middle Ages, which was
essentially clerical and was fostered by the Church, there appeared a
new civilization, founding itself on that which lay on the other side
of the Middle Ages. Its active representatives became influential
because they knew what the ancients knew, because they tried to write
as the ancients wrote, because they began to think, and soon to feel,
as the ancients thought and felt. The tradition to which they devoted
themselves passed at a thousand points into genuine reproduction.

Some modern writers deplore the fact that the germs of a far more
independent and essentially national culture, such as appeared in
Florence about the year 1300, were afterwards so completely swamped by
the humanists. There was then, we are told, nobody in Florence who
could not read; even the donkeymen sang the verses of Dante; the best
Italian manuscripts which we possess belonged originally to Florentine
artisans; the publication of a popular encyclopedia, like the 'Tesoro'
of Brunetto Latini, was then possible; and all this was founded on d
strength and soundness of character due to the universal participation
in public affairs, to commerce and travel, and to the systematic
reprobation of idleness. The Florentines, it is urged, were at that
time respected and influential throughout the whole world, and were
called in that year, not without reason, by Pope Boniface VIII, 'the
fifth element.' The rapid progress of humanism after the year 1400
paralysed native impulses. Henceforth men looked only to antiquity for
the solution of every problem, and consequently allowed literature to
turn into mere quotation. Nay, the very fall of civil freedom is partly
ascribed to all this, since the new learning rested on obedience to
authority, sacrificed municipal rights to Roman law, and thereby both
sought and found the favour of the despots.

These charges will occupy us now and then at a later stage of our
inquiry, when we shall attempt to reduce them to their true value, and
to weigh the losses against the gains of this movement. For the present
we must confine ourselves to showing how the civilization even of the
vigorous fourteenth century necessarily prepared the way for the
complete victory of humanism, and how precisely the greatest
representatives of the national Italian spirit were themselves the men
who opened wide the gate for the measureless devotion to antiquity in
the fifteenth century.

To begin with Dante. If a succession of men of equal genius had
presided over Italian culture, whatever elements their natures might
have absorbed from the antique, they still could not fail to retain a
characteristic and strongly-marked national stamp. But neither Italy
nor Western Europe produced another Dante, and he was and remained the
man who first thrust antiquity into the foreground of national culture.
In the 'Divine Comedy' he treats the ancient and the Christian worlds,
not indeed as of equal authority, but as parallel to one another. Just
as, at an earlier period of the Middle Ages, types and anti- types were
sought in the history of the Old and New Testaments, so does Dante
constantly bring together a Christian and a pagan illustration of the
same fact. It must be remembered that the Christian cycle of history
and legend was familiar, while the ancient was relatively unknown, was
full of promise and of interest, and must necessarily have gained the
upper hand in the competition for public sympathy when there was no
longer a Dante to hold the balance between the two.

Petrarch, who lives in the memory of most people nowadays chiefly as a
great Italian poet, owed his fame among his contemporaries far rather
to the fact that he was a kind of living representative of antiquity,
that he imitated all styles of Latin poetry, endeavored by his
voluminous historical and philosophical writings not to supplant but to
make known the works of the ancients, and wrote letters that, as
treatises on matters of antiquarian interest, obtained a reputation
which to us is unintelligible, but which was natural enough in an age
without handbooks.

It was the same with Boccaccio. For two centuries, when but little was
known of the 'Decameron' north of the Alps, he was famous all over
Europe simply on account of his Latin compilations on mythology,
geography and biography. One of these, 'De Genealogia Deorum,' contains
in the fourteenth and fifteenth books a remarkable appendix, in which
he discusses the position of the then youthful humanism with regard to
the age. We must not be misled by his exclusive references to 'poesie,'
as closer observation shows that he means thereby the whole mental
activity of the poet-scholars. This it is whose enemies he so
vigorously combats--the frivolous ignoramuses who have no soul for
anything but debauchery; the sophistical theologian, to whom Helicon,
the Castalian fountain, and the grove of Apollo were foolishness; the
greedy lawyers, to whom poetry was a superfluity, since no money was to
be made by it; finally the mendicant friars, described
periphrastically, but clearly enough, who made free with their charges
of paganism and immorality. Then follows the defence of poetry, the
praise of it, and especially of the deeper and allegorical meanings
which we must always attribute to it, and of that calculated obscurity
which is intended to repel the dull minds of the ignorant.

And finally, with a clear reference to his own scholarly work, the
writer justifies the new relation in which his age stood to paganism.
The case was wholly different, he pleads, when the Early Church had to
fight its way among the heathen. Now--praised be Jesus Christ !--true
religion was strengthened, paganism destroyed, and the victorious
Church in possession of the hostile camp. It was now possible to touch
and study paganism almost _(fere) _without danger. This is the argument
invariably used in later times to defend the Renaissance.

There was thus a new cause in the world and a new class of men to
maintain it. It is idle to ask if this cause ought not to have stopped
short in its career of victory, to have restrained itself deliberately,
and conceded the first place to purely national elements of culture. No
conviction was more firmly rooted in the popular mind than that
antiquity was the highest title to glory which Italy possessed.

There was a symbolical ceremony peculiar to the first generation of
poet-scholars which lasted on into the fifteenth and sixteenth
centuries, though losing the higher sentiment which inspired it--the
coronation of the poets with the laurel wreath. The origin of this
custom in the Middle Ages is obscure, and the ritual of the ceremony
never became fixed. It was a public demonstration, an outward and
visible expression of literary enthusiasm, and naturally its form was
variable. Dante, for instance, seems to have understood it in the sense
of a halfreligious consecration; he desired to assume the wreath in the
baptistery of San Giovanni, where, like thousands of other Florentine
children, he had received baptism. He could, says his biographer, have
anywhere received the crown in virtue of his fame, but desired it
nowhere but in his native city, and therefore died uncrowned. From the
same source we learn that the usage was till then uncommon, and was
held to be inherited by the ancient Romans from the Greeks. The most
recent source to which the practices could be referred is to be found
in the Capitoline contests of musicians, poets, and other artists,
founded by Domitian in imitation of the Greeks and celebrated every
five years, which may possibly have survived for a time the fall of the
Roman Empire; but as few other men would venture to crown themselves,
as Dante desired to do, the question arises, to whom did this office
belong? Albertino Mussato was crowned at Padua in 1310 by the bishop
and the rector of the University. The University of Paris, the rector
of which was then a Florentine (1341), and the municipal authorities of
Rome, competed for the honour of crowning Petrarch. His self-elected
examiner, King Robert of Anjou, would have liked to perform the
ceremony at Naples, but Petrarch preferred to be crowned on the Capitol
by the senator of Rome. This honour was long the highest object of
ambition, and so it seemed to Jacobus Pizinga, an illustrious Sicilian
magistrate. Then came the Italian journey of Charles IV, whom it amused
to flatter the vanity of ambitious men, and impress the ignorant
multitude by means of gorgeous ceremonies. Start- ing from the fiction
that the coronation of poets was a prerogative of the old Roman
emperors, and consequently was no less his own, he crowned (May 15,
1355) the Florentine scholar, Zanobi della Strada, at Pisa, to the
great disgust of Boccaccio, who declined to recognize this 'laurea
Pisana' as legitimate. Indeed, it might be fairly asked with what right
this stranger, half Slavonic by birth, came to sit in judgement on the
merits of Italian poets. But from henceforth the emperors crowned poets
wherever they went on their travels; and in the fifteenth century the
popes and other princes assumed the same right, till at last no regard
whatever was paid to place or circumstances. In Rome, under Sixtus IV,
the academy of Pomponius L'tus gave the wreath on its own authority.
The Florentines had the good taste not to crown their famous humanists
till after death. Carlo Aretino and Leonardo Aretino were thus crowned;
the eulogy of the first was pronounced by Matteo Palmieri, of the
latter by Giannozzo Manetti, before the members of the council and the
whole people, the orator standing at the head of the bier, on which the
corpse lay clad in a silken robe. Carlo Aretino was further honoured by
a tomb in Santa Croce, which is among the most beautiful in the whole
course of the Renaissance.

Universities and Schools

The influence of antiquity on culture, of which we have now to speak,
presupposes that the new learning had gained possession of the
universities. This was so, but by no means to the extent and with the
results which might have been expected.

Few of the Italian universities show themselves in their full vigor
till the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, when the increase of
wealth rendered a more systematic care for education possible. At first
there were generally three sorts of professorships--one for civil law,
another for canonical law, the third for medicine; in course of time
professorships of rhetoric, of philosophy, and of astronomy were added,
the last commonly, though not always, identical with astrology. The
salaries varied greatly in different cases. Sometimes a capital sum was
paid down. With the spread of culture, competition became so active
that the different universities tried to entice away distinguished
teachers from one another, under which circumstances Bologna is said to
have sometimes devoted the half of its public income (20,000 ducats) to
the university. The appointments were as a rule made only for a certain
time, sometimes for only half a year, so that the teachers were forced
to lead a wandering life, like actors. Appointments for life were,
however, not unknown. Sometimes the promise was exacted not to teach
elsewhere what had already been taught at one place. There were also
voluntary, unpaid professors.

Of the chairs which have been mentioned, that of rhetoric was
especially sought by the humanist; yet it depended only on his
familiarity with the matter of ancient learning whether or no be could
aspire to those of law, medicine, philosophy, or astronomy. The inward
conditions of the science of the day were as variable as the outward
conditions of the teacher. Certain jurists and physicians received by
far the largest salaries of all, the former chiefly as consulting
lawyers for the suits and claims of the State which employed them. In
Padua a lawyer of the fifteenth century received a salary of 1,000
ducats, and it was proposed to appoint a celebrated physician with a
yearly payment of 2,000 ducats, and the right of private practice, the
same man having previously received 700 gold florins at Pisa. When the
jurist Bartolommeo Socini, professor at Pisa, accepted a Venetian
appointment at Padua, and was on the point of starting on his journey,
he was arrested by the Florentine government and only released on
payment of bail to the amount of 18,000 gold florins. The high
estimation in which these branches of science were held makes it
intelligible why distinguished philologists turned their attention to
law and medicine, while on the other hand specialists were more and
more compelled to acquire something of a wide literary culture. We
shall presently have occasion to speak of the work of the humanists in
other departments of practical life.

Nevertheless, the position of the philologists, as such, even where the
salary was large, and did not exclude other sources of income, was on
the whole uncertain and temporary, so that one and the same teacher
could be connected with a great variety of institutions. It is evident
that change was desired for its own sake, and something fresh expected
from each newcomer, as was natural at a time when science was in the
making, and consequently depended to no small degree on the personal
influence of the teacher. Nor was it always the case that a lecturer on
classical authors really belonged to the university of the town where
he taught. Communication was so easy, and the supply of suitable
accommodation, in monasteries and elsewhere, was so abundant, that a
private appointment was often practicable. In the first decades of the
fifteenth century, when the University of Florence was at its greatest
brilliance, when the courtiers of Eugenius IV, and perhaps even of
Martin V thronged the lecture-room, when Carlo Aretino and Filelfo were
competing for the largest audience, there existed, not only an almost
complete university among the Augustinians of Santo Spirito, not only
an association of scholars among the Camaldolesi of the Angeli, but
individuals of mark, either singly or in common, arranged to provide
philosophical and philological teaching for themselves and others.
Linguistic and antiquarian studies in Rome had next to no connection
with the university (Sapienza), and depended almost exclusively either
on the favour of individual popes and prelates, or on the appointments
made in the Papal chancery. It was not till Leo X (1513) that the great
reorganization of the Sapienza took place, which now had eighty-eight
lecturers, among whom there were the most able men of Italy, reading
and interpreting the class;cs. But this new brilliancy was of short
duration. We have already spoken briefly of the Greek professorships in
Italy.

To form an accurate picture of the method of scientific instruction
then pursued, we must turn away our eyes as far as possible from our
present academic system. Personal intercourse between the teachers and
the taught, public disputations, the constant use of Latin and often of
Greek, the frequent changes of lecturers and the scarcity of books,
gave the studies of that time a color which we cannot represent to
ourselves without effort.

There were Latin schools in every town of the least importance, not by
any means merely as preparatory to higher education, but because, next
to reading, writing, and arithmetic, the knowledge of Latin was a
necessity; and after Latin came logic. It is to be noted particularly
that these schools did not depend on the Church, but on the
municipality; some of them, too, were merely private enterprises.

This school system, directed by a few distinguished humanists, not only
attained a remarkable perfection of organization, but became an
instrument of higher education in the modern sense of the phrase. With
the education of the children of two princely houses in North Italy
institutions were connected which may be called unique of their kind.

At the court of Giovan Francesco Gonzaga at Mantua (1407-1444) appeared
the illustrious Vittorino da Feltre, one of those men who devote their
whole life to an object for which their natural gifts constitute a
special vocation.

He directed the education of the sons and daughters of the princely
house, and one of the latter became under his care a woman of learning.
When his reputation extended far and wide over Italy, and members of
great and wealthy families came from long distances, even from Germany,
in search of his instructions, Gonzaga was not only willing that they
should be received, but seems to have held it an honour for Mantua to
be the chosen school of the aristocratic world. Here for the first time
gymnastics and all noble bodily exercises were treated along with
scientific instruction as indispensable to a liberal education. Besides
these pupils came others, whose instruction Vittorino probably held to
be his highest earthly aim, the gifted poor, whom he supported in his
house and educated, 'per l'amore di Dio,' along with the highborn
youths who here learned to live under the same roof with untitled
genius. Gonzaga paid him a yearly salary of 300 gold florins, and
contributed to the expenses caused by the poorer pupils. He knew that
Vittorino never saved a penny for himself, and doubtless realized that
the education of the poor was the unexpressed condition of his
presence. The establishment was conducted on strictly religious lines,
stricter indeed than many monasteries.

More stress was laid on pure scholarship by Guarino of Verona (1370-
1460), who in the year 1429 was called to Ferrara by Niccolo d'Este to
educate his son Lionello, and who, when his pupil was nearly grown up
in 1436, began to teach at the university of eloquence and of the
ancient languages. While still acting as tutor to Lionello, he had many
other pupils from various parts of the country, and in his own house a
select class of poor scholars, whom he partly or wholly supported. His
evening hours till far into the night were devoted to hearing lessons
or to instructive conversation. His house, too, was the home of a
strict religion and morality. It signified little to him or to
Vittorino that most of the humanists of their day deserved small praise
in the matter of morals or religion. It is inconceivable how Guarino,
with all the daily work which fell upon him, still found time to write
translations from the Greek and voluminous original works.

Not only in these two courts, but generally throughout Italy, the
education of the princely families was in part and for certain years in
the hands of the humanists, who thereby mounted a step higher in the
aristocratic world. The writing of treatises on the education of
princes, formerly the business of theologians, fell now within their
province.

From the time of Pier Paolo Vergerio the Italian princes were well
taken care of in this respect, and the custom was transplanted into
Germany by Aeneas Sylvius, who addressed detailed exhortations to two
young German princes of the House of Habsburg on the subject of their
further education, in which they are both urged, as might be expected,
to cultivate and nurture humanism. Perhaps Aeneas was aware that in
addressing these youths he was talking in the air, and therefore took
measures to put his treatise into public circulation. But the relations
of the humanists to the rulers will be discussed separately. We have
here first to speak of those citizens, mostly Florentines, who made
antiquarian interests one of the chief objects of their lives, and who
were themselves either distinguished scholars, or else distinguished
_dilettanti _who maintained the scholars. They were of peculiar
significance during the period of transition at the beginning of the
fifteenth century, since it was in them that humanism first showed
itself practically as an indispensable element in daily life. It was
not till after this time that the popes and princes began seriously to
occupy themselves with it.

Niccolo Niccoli and Giannozzo Manetti have been already spoken of more
than once. Niccoli is described to us by Vespasiano as a man who would
tolerate nothing around him out of harmony with his own classical
spirit. His handsome long-robed figure, his kindly speech, his house
adorned with the noblest remains of antiquity, made a singular
impression. He was scrupulously cleanly in everything, most of all at
table, where ancient vases and crystal goblets stood before him on the
whitest linen. The way in which he won over a pleasure-loving young
Florentine to intellectual interests is too charming not to be here
described. Piero de' Pazzi, son of a distinguished merchant, and
himself destined to the same calling, fair to behold, and much given to
the pleasures of the world, thought about anything rather than
literature. One day, as he was passing the Palazzo del Podesta, Niccolo
called the young man to him, and although they had never before
exchanged a word, the youth obeyed the call of one so respected.
Niccolo asked him who his father was. He answered, 'Messer Andrea de'
Pazzi.' When he was further asked what his pursuit was, Piero replied,
as young people are wont to do, 'I enjoy myself' ('attendo a darmi buon
tempo'). Niccolo said to him, 'As son of such a father, and so fair to
look upon, it is a shame that thou knowest nothing of the Latin
language, which would be so great an ornament to thee. If thou learnest
it not, thou wilt be good for nothing, and as soon as the flower of
youth is over, wilt be a man of no consequence' (virtu). When Piero
heard this, he straightway perceived that it was true, and said that he
would gladly take pains to learn, if only he had a teacher. Whereupon
Niccol• answered that he would see to that. And he found him a learned
man for Latin and Greek, named Pontano, whom Piero treated as one of
his own house, and to whom he paid 100 gold florins a year. Quitting
all the pleasures in which he had hitherto lived, he studied day and
night, and became a friend of all learned men and a nobleminded
statesman. He learned by heart the whole 'neid and many speeches of
Livy, chiefly on the way between Florence and his country house at
Trebbio. Antiquity was represented in another and higher sense by
Giannozzo Manetti (13931459). Precocious from his first years, he was
hardly more than a child when he had finished his apprenticeship in
commerce and became bookkeeper in a bank. But soon the life he led
seemed to him empty and perishable, and he began to yearn after
science, through which alone man can secure immortality. He then busied
himself with books as few laymen had done before him, and became, as
has been said, one of the most profound scholars of his time. When
appointed by the government as its representative magistrate and tax-
collector at Pescia and Pistoia, he fulfilled his duties in accordance
with the lofty ideal with which his religious feeling and humanistic
studies combined to inspire him. He succeeded in collecting the most
unpopular taxes which the Florentine State imposed, and declined
payment for his services. As provincial governor he refused all
presents, abhorred all bribes, checked gambling, kept the country well
supplied with corn, was indefatigable in settling lawsuits amicably,
and did wonders in calming inflamed passions by his goodness. The
Pistoiese were never able to discover to which of the two political
parties he leaned. As if to symbolize the common rights and interests
of all, he spent his leisure hours in writing the history of the city,
which was preserved, bound in a purple cover, as a sacred relic in the
town hall. When he took his leave the city presented him with a banner
bearing the municipal arms and a splendid silver helmet.

For further information as to the learned citizens of Florence at this
period the reader must all the more be referred to Vespasiano, who knew
them all personally, because the tone and atmosphere in which he
writes, and the terms and conditions on which he mixed in their
society, are of even more importance than the facts which he records.
Even in a translation, and still more in the brief indications to which
we are here compelled to limit ourselves, this chief merit of his book
is lost. Without being a great writer, he was thoroughly familiar with
the subject he wrote on, and had a deep sense of its intellectual
significance.

If we seek to analyze the charm which the Medici of the fifteenth
century, especially Cosimo the Elder (d. 1464) and Lorenzo the
Magnificent (d. 1492 ) exercised over Florence and over all their
contemporaries, we shall find that it lay less in their political
capacity than in their leadership in the culture of the age. A man in
Cosimo's position--a great merchant and party leader, who also had on
his side all the thinkers, writers and investigators, a man who was the
first of the Florentines by birth and the first of the Italians by
culture such a man was to all intents and purposes already a prince. To
Cosimo belongs the special glory of recognizing in the Platonic
philosophy the fairest flower of the ancient world of thought, of
inspiring his friends with the same belief, and thus of fostering
within humanistic circles themselves another and a higher resuscitation
of antiquity. The story is known to us minutely. It all hangs on the
calling of the learned Johannes Argyropulos, and on the personal
enthusiasm of Cosimo himself in his last years, which was such that the
great Marsilio Ficino could style himself, as far as Platonism was
concerned, the spiritual son of Cosimo. Under Pietro Medici, Ficino was
already at the head of a school; to him Pietro's son and Cosimo's
grandson, the illustrious Lorenzo, came over from the Peripatetics.
Among his most distinguished fellow-scholars were Bartolommeo Valori,
Donato Acciaiuoli, and Pierfilippo Pandolfini. The enthusiastic teacher
declares in several passages of his writings that Lorenzo had sounded
all the depths of the Platonic philosophy, and had uttered his
conviction that without Plato it would be hard to be a good Christian
or a good citizen. The famous band of scholars which surrounded Lorenzo
was united together, and distinguished from all other circles of the
kind, by this passion for a higher and idealistic philosophy. Only in
such a world could a man like Pico della Mirandola feel happy. But
perhaps the best thing of all that can be said about it is, that, with
all this worship of antiquity, Italian poetry found here a sacred
refuge, and that of all the rays of light which streamed from the
circle of which Lorenzo was the centre, none was more powerful than
this. As a statesman, let each man judge him as he pleases; a foreigner
will hesitate to pronounce what in the fate of Florence was due to
human guilt and what to circumstances, but no more unjust charge was
ever made than that in the field of culture Lorenzo was the protector
of mediocrity, that through his fault Leonardo da Vinci and the
mathematician Fra Luca Pacioli lived abroad, and that Toscanella,
Vespucci, and others remained at least unsupported. He was not, indeed,
a man of universal mind; but of all the great men who have striven to
favour and promote spiritual interests, few certainly have been so
many-sided, and in none probably was the inward need to do so equally
deep.

The age in which we live is loud enough in proclaiming the worth of
culture, and especially of the culture of antiquity. But the
enthusiastic devotion to it, the recognition that the need of it is the
first and greatest of all needs, is nowhere to be found in such a
degree as among the Florentines of the fifteenth and the early part of
the sixteenth centuries. On this point we have indirect proof which
precludes all doubt. It would not have been so common to give the
daughters of the house a share in the same studies, had they not been
held to be the noblest of earthly pursuits, exile would not have been
turned into a happy retreat, as was done by Palla Strozzi; nor would
men who indulged in every conceivable excess have retained the strength
and the spirit to write critical treatises on the Natural History of
Pliny like Filippo Strozzi. Our business here is not to deal out either
praise or blame, but to understand the spirit of the age in all its
vigorous individuality.

Besides Florence, there were many cities of Italy where individuals and
social circles devoted all their energies to the support of humanism
and the protection of the scholars who lived among them. The
correspondence of that period is full of references to personal
relations of this kind. The feeling of the instructed classes set
strongly and almost exclusively in this direction.

But it is now time to speak of humanism at the Italian courts. The
natural alliance between the despot and the scholar, each relying
solely on his personal talent, has already been touched upon; that the
latter should avowedly prefer the princely courts to the free cities,
was only to be expected from the higher pay which he there received. At
a time when the great Alfonso of Aragon seemed likely to become master
of all Italy, Aeneas Sylvius wrote to another citizen of Siena: 'I had
rather that Italy attained peace under his rule than under that of the
free cities, for kingly generosity rewards excellence of every kind.'
Too much stress has latterly been laid on the unworthy side of this
relation, and the mercenary flattery to which it gave rise, just as
formerly the eulogies of the humanists led to a too favourable
judgement on their patrons. Taking all things together, it is greatly
to the honour of the latter that they felt bound to place themselves at
the head of the culture of their age and country, one-sided though this
culture was. In some of the popes, the fearlessness of the consequences
to which the new learning might lead strikes us as something truly, but
unconsciously, imposing. Nicholas V was confident of the future of the
Church, since thousands of learned men supported her. Pius II was far
from making such splendid sacrifices for humanism as were made by
Nicholas, and the poets who frequented his court were few in number;
but he himself was much more the personal head of the republic of
letters than his predecessor, and enjoyed his position without the
least misgiving. Paul II was the first to dread and mistrust the
culture of his secretaries, and his three successors, Sixtus, Innocent,
and Alexander, accepted dedications and allowed themselves to be sung
to the hearts' content of the poets-- there even existed a 'Borgiad,'
probably in hexameter-- but were too busy elsewhere, and too occupied
in seeking other foundations for their power, to trouble themselves
much about the poet-scholars. Julius II found poets to eulogize him,
because he himself was no mean subject for poetry, but he does not seem
to have troubled himself much about them. He was followed by Leo X, 'as
Romulus by Numa'--in other words, after the warlike turmoil of the
previous pontificate, a new one was hoped for wholly given to the
muses. Enjoyment of elegant Latin prose and melodious verse was part of
the pro- gramme of Leo's life, and his patronage certainly had the
result that his Latin poets have left us a living picture of that
joyous and brilliant spirit of the Leonine days, with which the
biography of Jovius is filled, in countless epigrams, elegies, odes,
and orations. Probably in all European history there is no prince who,
in proportion to the few striking events of his life, has received such
manifold homage. The poets had access to him chiefly about noon, when
the musicians had ceased playing; but one of the best among them tells
us how they also pursued him when he walked in his garden or withdrew
to the privacy of his chamber, and if they failed to catch him there,
would try to win him with a mendicant ode or elegy, filled, as usual,
with the whole population of Olympus. For Leo, prodigal of his money,
and disliking to be surrounded by any but cheerful faces, displayed a
generosity in his gifts which was fabulously exaggerated in the hard
times that followed. His reorganization of the Sapienza has been
already spoken of. In order not to underrate Leo's influence on hu-
manism we must guard against being misled by the toy-work that was
mixed up with it, and must not allow ourselves to be deceived by the
apparent irony with which he himself sometimes treated these matters.
Our judgement must rather dwell on the countless spiritual
possibilities which are included in the word 'stimulus,' and which,
though they cannot be measured as a whole, can still, on closer study,
be actually followed out in particular cases. Whatever influence in
Europe the Italian humanists have had since 1520 depends in some way or
other on the impulse which was given by Leo. He was the Pope who in
granting permission to print the newly found Tacitus, could say that
the great writers were a rule of life and a consolation in misfortune;
that helping learned men and obtaining excellent books had ever been
one of his highest aims; and that he now thanked heaven that he could
benefit the human race by furthering the publication of this book.

The sack of Rome in the year 1527 scattered the scholars no less than
the artists in every direction, and spread the fame of the great
departed Maecenas to the farthest boundaries of Italy.

Among the secular princes of the fifteenth century, none displayed such
enthusiasm for antiquity as Alfonso the Great of Aragon, King of
Naples. It appears that his zeal was thoroughly unaffected, and that
the monuments and writings of the ancient world made upon him, from the
time of his arrival in Italy, an impression deep and powerful enough to
reshape his life. With strange readiness he surrendered the stubborn
Aragon to his brother, and devoted himself wholly to his new
possessions. He had in his service, either successively or to- gether,
George of Trebizond, the younger Chrysoloras, Lorenzo Valla,
Bartolommeo Fazio and Antonio Panormita, of whom the two latter were
his historians; Panormita daily instructed the King and his court in
Livy, even during military expeditions. These men cost him yearly
20,000 gold florins. He gave Panormita 1,000 for his work; Fazio
received for the 'Historia Alfonsi,' besides a yearly income of 500
ducats, a present of 1,500 more when it was finished, with the words,
'It is not given to pay you, for your work would not be paid for if I
gave you the fairest of my cities; but in time I hope to satisfy you.'

When he took Giannozzo Manetti as his secretary on the most brilliant
conditions, he said to him, 'My last crust I will share with you.' When
Giannozzo first came to bring the congratulations of the Florentine
government on the marriage of Prince Ferrante, the impression he made
was so great, that the King sat motionless on the throne, 'like a
brazen statue, and did not even brush away a fly, which had settled on
his nose at the beginning of the oration.' His favorite haunt seems to
have been the library of the castle at Naples, where he would sit at a
window overlooking the bay, and listen to learned debates on the
Trinity. For he was profoundly religious, and had the Bible, as well as
Livy and Seneca, read to him, till after fourteen perusals he knew it
almost by heart. Who can fully understand the feeling with which he
regarded the suppositions remains of Livy at Padua? When, by dint of
great entreaties, he obtained an arm-bone of the skeleton from the
Venetians, and received it with solemn pomp at Naples, how strangely
Christian and pagan sentiment must have been blended in his heart!
During a campaign in the Abruzzi, when the distant Sulmona, the
birthplace of Ovid, was pointed out to him, he saluted the spot and
returned thanks to its tutelary genius. It gladdened him to make good
the prophecy of the great poet as to his future fame. Once indeed, at
his famous entry into the conquered city of Naples (1443) he himself
chose to appear before the world in ancient style. Not far from the
market a breach forty ells wide was made in the wall, and through this
he drove in a gilded chariot like a Roman Triumphator. The memory of
the scene is preserved by a noble triumphal arch of marble in the
Castello Nuovo. His Neapolitan successors inherited as little of this
passion for antiquity as of his other good qualities.

Alfonso was far surpassed in learning by Federigo of Urbino, who had
but few courtiers around him, squandered nothing, and in his
appropriation of antiquity, as in all other things, went to work
considerately. It was for him and for Nicholas V that most of the
translations from the Greek, and a number of the best commentaries and
other such works, were written. He spent much on the scholars whose
services he used, but spent it to good purpose. There were no traces of
a poets' court at Urbino, where the Duke himself was the most learned
in the whole court. Classical antiquity, indeed, only formed a part of
his culture. An accomplished ruler, captain, and gentleman, he had
mastered the greater part of the science of the day, and this with a
view to its practical application. As a theologian, he was able to
compare Scotus with Aquinas, and was familiar with the writings of the
old Fathers of the Eastern and Western Churches, the former in Latin
translations. In philosophy, he seems to have left Plato altogether to
his contemporary Cosimo, but he knew thoroughly not only the Ethics and
Politics of Aristotle but the Physics and some other works. The rest of
his reading lay chiefly among the ancient historians, all of whom he
possessed; these, and not the poets, 'he was always reading and having
read to him.'

The Sforza, too, were all of them men of more or less learning and
patrons of literature; they have been already referred to in passing.
Duke Francesco probably looked on humanistic culture as a matter of
course in the education of his children, if only for political reasons.
It was felt universally to be an advantage if a prince could mix with
the most instructed men of his time on an equal footing. Lodovico il
Moro, himself an excellent Latin scholar, showed an interest in
intellectual matters which extended far beyond classical antiquity.

Even the petty rulers strove after similar distinctions, and we do them
injustice by thinking that they only supported the scholars at their
courts as a means of diffusing their own fame. A ruler like Borso of
Ferrara, with all his vanity, seems by no means to have looked for
immortality from the poets, eager as they were to propitiate him with a
'Borseid' and the like. He had far too proud a sense of his own
position as a ruler for that. But intercourse with learned men,
interest in antiquarian matters, and the passion for elegant Latin
correspondence were necessities for the princes of that age. What
bitter complaints are those of Duke Alfonso, competent as he was in
practical matters, that his weakliness in youth had forced him to seek
recreation in manual pursuits only! or was this merely an excuse to
keep the humanists at a distance? A nature like his was not
intelligible even to contemporaries.

Even the most insignificant despots of Romagna found it hard to do
without one or two men of letters about them. The tutor and secretary
were often one and the same person, who sometimes, indeed, acted as a
kind of court factotum. We are apt to treat the small scale of these
courts as a reason for dismissing them with a too ready contempt,
forgetting that the highest spiritual things are not precisely matters
of measurement.

Life and manners at the court of Rimini must have been a singular
spectacle under the bold pagan Condottiere Sigismondo Malatesta. He had
a number of scholars around him, some of whom he provided for
liberally, even giving them landed estates, while others earned at
least a livelihood as officers in his army. In his citadel--'arx
Sismundea'--they used to hold discussions, often of a very venomous
kind, in the presence of the 'rex,' as they termed him. In their Latin
poems they sing his praises and celebrate his amour with the fair
Isotta, in whose honour and as whose monument the famous rebuilding of
San Francesco at Rimini took place 'Divae Isottae Sacrum.' When the
humanists themselves came to die, they were laid in or under the
sarcophagi with which the niches of the outside walls of the church
were adorned, with an inscription testifying that they were laid here
at the time when Sigismundus, the son of Pandulfus, ruled. It is hard
for us nowadays to believe that a monster like this prince felt
learning and the friendship of cultivated people to be a necessity of
life; and yet the man who excommunicated him, made war upon him, and
burnt him in effigy, Pope Pius II, says: 'Sigismondo knew history and
had a great store of philosophy; he seemed born to all that he
undertook.'

Propagators of Antiquity

We have here first to speak of those citizens, mostly Florentines, who
made antiquarian interests one of the chief objects of their lives, and
who were themselves either distinguished scholars, or else
distinguished _dilettanti_ who maintained the scholars. They were of
peculiar significance during the period of transition at the beginning
of the fifteenth century, since it was in them that humanism first
showed itself practically as an indispensable element in daily life. It
was not till after this time that the popes and princes began seriously
to occupy themselves with it.

Niccolò Niccoli and Giannozzo Manetti have been already spoken of more
than once. Niccoli is described to us by Vespasiano as a man who would
tolerate nothing around him out of harmony with his own classical
spirit. His handsome long-robed figure, his kindly speech, his house
adorned with the noblest remains of antiquity, made a singular
impression. He was scrupulously cleanly in everything, most of all at
table, where ancient vases and crystal goblets stood before him on the
whitest linen. The way in which he won over a pleasure-loving young
Florentine to intellectual interests is too charming not to be here
described. Piero de' Pazzi, son of a distinguished merchant, and
himself destined to the same calling, fair to behold, and much given to
the pleasures of the world, thought about anything rather than
literature. One day, as he was passing the Palazzo del Podestà, Niccolò
called the young man to him, and although they had never before
exchanged a word, the youth obeyed the call of one so respected.
Niccolò asked him who his father was. He answered, 'Messer Andrea de'
Pazzi'. When he was further asked what his pursuit was, Piero replied,
as young people are wont to do, 'I enjoy myself' ('attendo a darmi buon
tempo'). Niccolò said to him, 'As son of such a father, and so fair to
look upon, it is a shame that thou knowest nothing of the Latin
language, which would be so great an ornament to thee. If thou learnest
it not, thou wilt be good for nothing, and as soon as the flower of
youth is over, wilt be a man of no consequence' (_virtù_). When Piero
heard this, he straightway perceived that it was true, and said that he
would gladly take pains to learn, if only he had a teacher. Whereupon
Niccolò answered that he would see to that. And he found him a learned
man for Latin and Greek, named Pontano, whom Piero treated as one of
his own house, and to whom he paid 100 gold florins a year. Quitting
all the pleasures in which he had hitherto lived, he studied day and
night, and became a friend of all learned men and a noble-minded
statesman. He learned by heart the whole AEneid and many speeches of
Livy, chiefly on the way between Florence and his country house at
Trebbio. Antiquity was represented in another and higher sense by
Giannozzo Maneeti (1393-1459). Precocious from his first years, he was
hardly more than a child when he had finished his apprenticeship in
commerce, and became book-keeper in a bank. But soon the life he led
seemed to him empty and perishable, and he began to yearn after
science, through which alone man can secure immortality. He then busied
himself with books as few laymen had done before him, and became, as
has been said, one of the most profound scholars of his time. When
appointed by the government as its representative magistrate and tax-
collector at Pescia and Pistoia, he furfilled his duties in accordance
with the lofty ideal with which his religious feeling and humanistic
studies combined to inspire him. He succeeded in collecting the most
unpopular taxes which the Florentine State imposed, and declined
payment for his services. As provincial governor he refused all
presents, abhorred all bribes, checked gambling, kept the country well
supplied with corn, was indefatigable in settling law-suits amicably,
and did wonders in calming inflamed passions by his goodness. The
Pistoiese were never able to discover to which of the two political
parties he leaned. As if to symbolize the common rights and interests
of all, he spent his leisure hours in writing the history of the city,
which was preserved, bound in a purple cover, as a sacred relic in the
town hall. When he took his leave the city presented him with a banner
bearing the municipal arms and a splendid silver helmet.

For further information as to the learned citizens of Florence at this
period the reader must all the more be referred to Vespasiano, who knew
them all personally, because the tone and atmosphere in which he
writes, and the terms and conditions on which he mixed in their
society, are of even more importance than the facts which he records.
Even in a translation, and still more in the brief indications to which
we are here compelled to limit ourselves, this chief merit of his book
is lost. Without being a great writer, he was thoroughly familiar with
the subject he wrote on, and had a deep sense of its intellectual
significance.

If we seek to analyse the charm which the Medici of the fifteenth
century, especially Cosimo the Elder (d. 1464) and Lorenzo the
Magnificent (d. 1492) exercised over Florence and over all their
contemporaries, we shall find that it lay less in their political
capacity than in their leadership in the culture of the age. A man in
Cosimo's position -- a great merchant and party leader, who also had on
his side all the thinkers, writers and investigators, a man who was the
first of the Florentines by birth and the first of the Italians by
culture -- such a man was to all intents and purposes already a prince.
To Cosimo belongs the special glory of recognizing in the Platonic
philosophy the fairest flower of the ancient world of thought, of
inspiring his friends with the same belief, amd thus of fostering
within humanistic circles themselves another and a higher resuscitation
of antiquity. The story is known to us minutely. It all hangs on the
calling of the learned Johannes Argyropulos, and on the personal
enthusiasm of Cosimo himself in his last years, which was such, that
the great Marsilio Ficino could style himself, as far as Platonism was
concerned, the spiritual son of Cosimo. Under Pietro Medici, Ficino was
already at the head of a school; to him Pietro's son and Cosimo's
grandson, the illustrious Lorenzo, came over from the Peripatetics.
Among his most distinguished fellow-scholars were Bartolommeo Valori,
Donato Acciaiuoli, and Pierfilippo Pandolfini. The enthusiastic teacher
declares in several passages of his writings that Lorenzo had sounded
all the depths of the Platonic philosophy, and had uttered his
conviction that without Plato it would be hard to be a good Christian
or a good citizen. The famous band of scholars which surrounded Lorenzo
was united together, and distinguished from all other circles of the
kind, by this passion for a higher and idealistic philosophy. Only in
such a world could a man like Pico della Mirandola feel happy. But
perhaps the best thing of all that can be said about it is, that, with
all this worship of antiquity, Italian poetry found here a sacred
refuge, and that of all the rays of light which streamed from the
circle of which Lorenzo was the centre, none was more powerful than
this. As a statesman, let each man judge him as he pleases; a foreigner
will hesitate to pronounce what was due to human guilt and what to
circumstances in the fate of Florence, but no more unjust charge was
ever made than that in the field of culture Lorenzo was the protector
of mediocrity, that through his fault Leonardo da Vinci and the
mathematician Fra Luca Pacioli lived abroad, and that Toscanella,
Vespucci, and others at least remained unsupported. He was not, indeed,
a man of universal mind; but of all the great men who have striven to
favour and promote spiritual interests, few certainly have been so
many-sided, and in none probably was the inward need to do so equally
deep.

The age in which we live is loud enough in proclaiming the worth of
culture, and especially of the culture of antiquity. But the
enthusiastic devotion to it, the recognition that the need of it is the
first and greatest of all needs, is nowhere to be found in such a
degree as among the Florentines of the fifteenth and the early part of
the sixteenth centuries. On this point we have indirect proof which
precludes all doubt. It would not have been so common to give the
daughters of the house a share in the same studies, had they not been
held to be the noblest of earthly pursuits; exile would not have been
turned into a happy retreat, as was done by Palla Strozzi; nor would
men who indulged in every conceivable excess have retained the strength
and the spirit to write critical treatises on the 'Natural History' of
Pliny like Filippo Strozzi. Our business here is not to deal out either
praise or blame, but to understand the spirit of the age in all its
vigorous individuality.

Besides Florence, there were many cities of Italy where individuals and
social circles devoted all their energies to the support of humanism
and the protection of the scholars who lived among them. The
correspondence of that period is full of references to personal
relations of this kind. The feeling of the instructed classes set
strongly and almost exclusively in this direction.

But it is now time to speak of humanism at the Italian courts. The
natural alliance between the despot and the scholar, each relying
solely on his personal talent, has already been touched upon; that the
latter should avowedly prefer the princely courts to the free cities,
was only to be expected from the higher pay which they there received.
At a time when the great Alfonso of Aragon seemed likely to become
master of all Italy, AEneas Sylvius wrote to another citizen of Siena:
'I had rather that Italy attained peace under his rule than under that
of the free cities, for kingly generosity rewards excellence of every
kind'. Too much stress has latterly been laid on the unworthy side of
this relation, and the mercenary flattery to which it gave rise, just
as formerly the eulogies of the humanists led to a too favourable
judgement on their patrons. Taking all things together, it is greatly
to the honour of the latter that they felt bound to place themselves at
the head of the culture of their age and country, one-sided though this
culture was. In some of the popes, the fearlessness of the consequences
to which the new learning might lead strikes us as something truly, but
unconsciously, imposing. Nicholas V was confident of the future of the
Church, since thousands of learned men supported her. Pius II was far
from making such splendid sacrifices for humanism as were made by
Nicholas, and the poets who frequented his court were few in number;
but he himself was much more the personal head of the republic of
letters than his predecessor, and enjoyed his position without the
least misgiving. Paul II was the first to dread and mistrust the
culture of his secretaries, and his three successors, Sixtus, Innocent,
and Alexander, accepted dedications and allowed themselves to be sung
to the hearts' content of the poets -- there even existed a 'Borgiad',
probably in hexameters -- but were too busy elsewhere, and too occupied
in seeking other foundations for their power, to trouble themselves
much about the poet-scholars. Julius II found poets to eulogize him,
because he himself was no mean subject for poetry, but he does not seem
to have troubled himself much about them. He was followed by Leo X, 'as
Romulus by Numa' -- in other words after the warlike turmoil of the
first pontificate, a new one was hoped for wholly given to the muses.
The enjoyment of elegant Latin prose and melodious verse was part of
the programme of Leo's life, and his patronage certainly had the result
that his Latin poets have left us a living picture of that joyous and
brilliant spirit of the Leonine days, with which the biography of
Jovius is filled, in countless epigrams, elegies, odes, and orations.
Probably in all European history there is no prince who, in proportion
to the few striking events of his life, has received such manifold
homage. The poets had access to him chiefly about noon, when the
musicians had ceased playing; but one of the best among them tells us
how they also pursued him when he walked in his garden or withdrew to
the privacy of his chamber, and if they failed to catch him there,
would try to win him with a mendicant ode or elegy, filled, as usual,
with the whole population of Olympus. For Leo, prodigal of his money,
and disliking to be surrounded by any but cheerful faces, displayed a
generosity in his gifts which was fabulously exaggerated in the hard
times that followed. His reorganization of the Sapienza has been
already spoken of. In order not to underrate Leo's influence on
humanism we must guard against being misled by the toy-work that was
mixed up with it, and must not allow ourselves to be deceived by the
apparent irony with which he himself sometimes treated these matters.
Our judgement must rather dwell on the countless spiritual
possibilities which are included in the word 'stimulus', and which,
though they cannot be measured as a whole, can still, on closer study,
be actually followed out in particular cases. Whatever influence in
Europe the Italian humanists have had since 1520 depends in some way or
other on the impulse which was given by Leo. He was the Pope who in
granting permission to print the newly found Tacitus, could say that
the great writers were a rule of life and a consolation in misfortune;
that helping learned men and obtaining excellent books had ever been
one of his highest aims; and that he now thanked heaven that he could
benefit the human race by furthering the publication of this book.

The sack of Rome in the year 1527 scattered the scholars no less than
the artists in every direction, and spread the fame of the great
departed Maecenas to the farthest boundaries of Italy.

Among the secular princes of the fifteenth century, none displayed such
enthusiasm for antiquity as Alfonso the Great of Aragon, King of
Naples. It appears that his zeal was thoroughly unaffected, and that
the monuments and writings of the ancient world made upon him from the
time of his arrival in Italy, an impression deep and powerful enough to
reshape his life. With strange readiness he surrendered the stubborn
Aragon to his brother, and devoted himself wholly to his new
possessions. He had in his service, either successively or together,
George of Trebizond, the younger Chrysoloras, Lorenzo Valla,
Bartolommeo Facio and Antonio Panormita, of whom the two latter were
his historians; Panormita daily instructed the King and his court in
Livy, even during military expeditions. These men cost him yearly
20,000 gold florins. He gave Panormita 1,000 for his work: Facio
received for the 'Historia Alfonsi', besides a yearly income of 500
ducats, a present of 1,500 more when it was finished, with the words,
'It is not given to pay you, for your work would not be paid for if I
gave you the fairest of my cities; but in time I hope to satisfy you'.
When he took Giannozzo Manetti as his secretary on the most brilliant
conditions, he said to him, 'My last crust I will share with you'. When
Giannozzo first came to bring the congratulations of the Florentine
government on the marriage of Prince Ferrante, the impression he made
was so great, that the King sat motionless on the throne, 'like a
brazen statue, and did not even brush away a fly, which had settled on
his nose at the beginning of the oration'. His favourite haunt seems to
have been the library of the castle at Naples, where he would sit at a
window overlooking the bay, and listen to learned debates on the
Trinity. For he was profoundly religious, and had the Bible, as well as
Livy and Seneca, read to him, till after fourteen perusals he knew it
almost by heart. Who can fully understand the feeling with which he
regarded the supposititious remains of Livy at Padua? When, by dint of
great entreaties, he obtained an arm-bone of the skeleton from the
Venetians, and received it with solemn pomp at Naples, how strangely
Christian and pagan sentiment must have been blended in his heart!
During a campaign in the Abruzzi, when the distant Sulmona, the
birthplace of Ovid, was pointed out to him, he saluted the spot and
returned thanks to its tutelary genius. It gladdened him to make good
the prophecy of the great poet as to his future fame. Once indeed, at
his famous entry into the conquered city of Naples (1443) he himself
chose to appear before the world in ancient style. Not far from the
market a breach forty ells wide was made in the wall, and through this
he drove in a gilded chariot like a Roman Triumphator. The memory of
the scene is preserved by a noble triumphal arch of marble in the
Castello Nuovo. His Neapolitan successors inherited as little of this
passion for antiquity as of his other good qualities.

Alfonso was far surpassed in learning by Federigo of Urbino, who had
but few courtiers around him, squandered nothing, and in his
appropriation of antiquity, as in all other things, went to work
considerately. It was for him and for Nicholas V that most of the
translations from the Greek, and a number of the best commentaries and
other such works, were written. He spent much on the scholars whose
services he used, but spent it to good purpose. There were no traces of
the official poet at Urbino, where the Duke himself was the most
learned in the whole court. Classical antiquity, indeed, only formed a
part of his culture. An accomplished ruler, captain, and gentleman, he
had mastered the greater part of the science of the day, and this with
a view to its practical application. As a theologian, he was able to
compare Scotus with Aquinas, and was familiar with the writings of the
old fathers of the Eastern and Western Churches, the former in Latin
translations. In philosophy, he seems to have left Plato altogether to
his contemporary Cosimo, but he knew thoroughly not only the 'Ethics'
and 'Politics' of Aristotle but the 'Physics' and some other works. The
rest of his reading lay chiefly among the ancient historians, all of
whom he possessed; these, and not the poets, 'he was always reading and
having read to him'.

The Sforza, too, were all of them men of more or less learning and
patrons of literature; they have been already referred to in passing.
Duke Francesco probably looked on humanistic culture as a matter of
course in the education of his children, if only for political reasons.
It was felt universally to be an advantage if the Prince could mix with
the most instructed men of his time on an equal footing. Lodovico il
Moro, himself an excellent Latin scholar, showed an interest in
intellectual matters which extended far beyond classical antiquity.

Even the petty despots strove after similar distinctions, and we do
them injustice by thinking that they only supported the scholars at
their courts as a means of diffusing their own fame. A ruler like Borso
of Ferrara, with all his vanity, seems by no means to have looked for
immortality from the poets, eager as they were to propitiate him with a
'Borseid' and the like. He had far too proud a sense of his own
position as a ruler for that. But intercourse with learned men,
interest in antiquarian matters, and the passion for elegant Latin
correspondence were necessities for the princes of that age. What
bitter complaints are those of Duke Alfonso, competent as he was in
practical matters, that his weakliness in youth had forced him to seek
recreation in manual pursuits only! or was this merely an excuse to
keep the humanists at a distance? A nature like his was not
intelligible even to contemporaries.

Even the most insignificant despots of Romagna found it hard to do
without one or two men of letters about them. The tutor and secretary
were often one and the same person, who sometimes, indeed, acted as a
kind of court factotum. We are apt to treat the small scale of these
courts as a reason for dismissing them with a too ready contempt,
forgetting that the highest spiritual things are not precisely matters
of measurement.

Life and manners at the court of Rimini must have been a singular
spectacle under the bold pagan Condottiere Sigismondo Malatesta. He had
a number of scholars around him, some of whom he provided for
liberally, even giving them landed estates, while others earned at
least a livelihood as officers in his army. In his citadl -- 'arx
Sismundea' -- they used to hold discussions, often of a very venomous
kind, in the presence of the 'rex', as they termed him. In their Latin
poems they sing his praises and celebrate his amour with the fair
Isotta, in whose honour and as whose monument the famous rebuilding of
San Francesco at Rimini took place -- 'Divae Isottae Sacrum'. When the
humanists themselves came to die, they were laid in or under the
sarcophagi with which the niches of the outside walls of the church
were adorned, with an inscription testifying that they were laid here
at the time when Sigismundus, the son of Pandulfus, ruled. It is hard
for us nowadays to believe that a monster like this prince felt
learning and the friendship of cultivated people to be a necessity of
life; and yet the man who excommunicated hirn, made war upon him, and
burnt him in effigy, Pope Pius II, says: 'Sigismondo knew history and
had a great store of philosophy; he seemed born to all that he
undertook'.

Propagators of Antiquity; Epistolography: Latin Orators

There were two purposes, however, for which the humanist was as
indispensable to the republics as to princes or popes, namely, the
official correspondence of the State, and the making of speeches on
public and solemn occasions.

Not only was the secretary required to be a competent Latinist, but
conversely, only a humanist was credited with the knowledge and ability
necessary for the post of secretary. And thus the greatest men in the
sphere of science during the fifteenth century mostly devoted a
considerable part of their lives to serve the State in this capacity.
No importance was attached to a man's home or origin. Of the four great
Florentine secretaries who filled the office between 1427 and 1465,
three belonged to the subject city of Arezzo, namely, Leonardo (Bruni),
Carlo (Marzuppini), and Benedetto Accolti; Poggio was from Terra Nuova,
also in Florentine territory. For a long period, indeed, many of the
highest offices of State were on principle given to foreigners.
Leonardo, Poggio, and Giannozzo Manetti were at one time or another
private secretaries to the popes, and Carlo Aretino was to have been
so. Biondo of Forli, and, in spite of everything, at last even Lorenzo
Valla, filled the same office. From the time of Nicholas V and Pius II
onwards, the Papal chancery continued more and more to attract the
ablest men, and this was still the case even under the last popes of
the fifteenth century, little as they cared for letters. In Platina's
'History of the Popes,' the life of Paul II is a charming piece of
vengeance taken by a humanist on the one Pope who did not know how to
behave to his chancery--to that circle 'of poets and orators who
bestowed on the Papal court as much glory as they received from it.' It
is delightful to see the indignation of these haughty gentlemen, when
some squabble about precedence happened, when, for instance, the
'Advocati consistoriales' claimed equal or superior rank to theirs. The
Apostle John, to whom the 'Secreta caelestia' were revealed; the
secretary of Porsenna, whom Mucius Scaevola mistook for the king;
Maecenas, who was private secretary to Augustus; the archbishops, who
in Germany were called chancellors, are all appealed to in turn. 'The
apostolic secretaries have the most weighty business of the world in
their hands. For who but they decide on matters of the Catholic faith,
who else combat heresy, re-establish peace, and mediate between great
monarchs; who but they write the statistical accounts of Christendom?
It is they who astonish kings, princes, and nations by what comes forth
from the Pope. They write commands and instructions for the legates,
and receive their orders only from the Pope, on whom they wait day and
night.' But the highest summit of glory was only attained by the two
famous secretaries and stylists of Leo X: Pietro Bembo and Jacopo
Sadoleto.

All the chanceries did not turn out equally elegant documents. A
leathern official style, in the impurest of Latin, was very common. In
the Milanese documents preserved by Corio there is a remarkable
contrast between this sort of composition and the few letters written
by members of the princely house, which must have been written, too, in
moments of critical importance. They are models of pure Latinity. To
maintain a faultless style under all circumstances was a rule of good
breeding, and a result of habit.

The letters of Cicero, Pliny, and others, were at this time diligently
studied as models. As early as the fifteenth century a great mass of
manuals and models for Latin correspondence had appeared (as off-shoots
of the great grammatical and lexicographic works), a mass which is
astounding to us even now when we look at them in the libraries. But
just as the existence of these helps tempted many to undertake a task
to which they had no vocation, so were the really capable men
stimulated to a more faultless excellence, till at length the letters
of Politian, and at the beginning of the sixteenth century those of
Pietro Bembo, appeared, and took their place as unrivalled
masterpieces, not only of Latin style in general, but also of the more
special art of letter-writing.

Together with these there appeared in the sixteenth century the
classical style of Italian correspondence, at the head of which stands
Bembo again. Its form is wholly modern, and deliberately kept free from
Latin influence, and yet its spirit is thoroughly penetrated and
possessed by the ideas of antiquity.

But at a time and among a people where 'listening' was among the chief
pleasures of life, and where every imagination was filled with the
memory of the Roman senate and its great speakers, the orator occupied
a far more brilliant place than the letter-writer. Eloquence had shaken
off the influence of the Church, in which it had found a refuge during
the Middle Ages, and now became an indispensable element and ornament
of all elevated lives. Many of the social hours which are now filled
with music were then given to Latin or Italian oratory, with results
which every reader can imagine.

The social position of the speaker was a matter of perfect
indifference; what was desired was simply the most cultivated
humanistic talent. At the court of Borso of Ferrara, the Duke's
physician, Girolamo da Castello, was chosen to deliver the
congratulatory address on the visits of Frederick III and of Pius II.
Married laymen ascended the pulpits of the churches at any scene of
festivity or mourning) and even on the feastdays of the saints. It
struck the non-Italian members of the Council of Basle as something
strange that the Archbishop of Milan should summon Aeneas Sylvius, who
was then unordained, to deliver a public discourse at the feast of
Saint Ambrose; but they suffered it in spite of the murmurs of the
theologians, and listened to the speaker with the greatest curiosity.

Let us glance for a moment at the most frequent and important occasions
of public speaking.

It was not for nothing, in the first place, that the ambassadors from
one State to another received the title of orators. Whatever else might
be done in the way of secret negotiation, the envoy never failed to
make a public appearance and deliver a public speech, under
circumstances of the greatest possible pomp and ceremony. As a rule,
however numerous the embassy might be, one individual spoke for all;
but it happened to Pius II, a critic before whom all were glad to be
heard, to be forced to sit and listen to a whole deputation, one after
another. Learned princes who had the gift of speech were themselves
fond of discoursing in Latin or Italian. The children of the House of
Sforza were trained to this exercise. The boy Galeazzo Maria delivered
in 1455 a fluent speech before the Great Council at Venice, and his
sister Ippolita saluted Pope Pius II with a graceful address at the
Congress of Mantua (1459). Pius himself through all his life did much
by his oratory to prepare the way for his final elevation to the Papal
chair. Great as he was both as scholar and diplomatist, he would
probably never have become Pope without the fame and the charm of his
eloquence. 'For nothing was more lofty than the dignity of his
oratory.' Without doubt this was a reason why multitudes held him to be
the fittest man for the office even before his election.

Princes were also commonly received on public occasions with speeches,
which sometimes lasted for hours. This happened of course only when the
prince was known as a lover of eloquence, or wished to pass for such,
and when a competent speaker was present, whether university professor,
official, ecclesiastic, physician, or court-scholar. Every other
political opportunity was seized with the same eagerness, and according
to the reputation of the speaker, the concourse of the lovers of
culture was great or small. At the yearly change of public officers,
and even at the consecration of new bishops, a humanist was sure to
come forward, and sometimes addressed his audience in hexameters or
Sapphic verses. Often a newly appointed official was himself forced to
deliver a speech more or less relevant to his department, as, for
instance, on justice; and lucky for him if he were well up in his part!
At Florence even the Condottieri, whatever their origin or education
might be, were compelled to accommodate themselves to the popular
sentiment, and on receiving the insignia of their office, were
harangued before the assembled people by the most learned secretary of
state. It seems that beneath or close to the Loggia de' Lanzi--the
porch where the government was wont to appear solemnly before the
people a tribune or platform _(rostra, ringhiera) _was erected for such
purposes.

Anniversaries, especially those of the death of princes, were commonly
celebrated by memorial speeches. Even the funeral oration strictly so
called was generally entrusted to a humanist, who delivered it in
church, clothed in a secular dress; nor was it only princes, but
officials, or persons otherwise distinguished, to whom this honour was
paid. This was also the case with the speeches delivered at weddings or
betrothals, with the difference that they seem to have been made in the
palace, instead of in church, like that of Filelfo at the betrothal of
Anna Sforza to Alfonso of Este in the castle of Milan. It is still
possible that the ceremony may have taken place in the chapel of the
castle. Private families of distinction no doubt also employed such
wedding orators as one of the luxuries of high life. At Ferrara,
Guarino was requested on these occasions to send some one or other of
his pupils. The clergy performed only the purely religious ceremonies
at weddings and funerals.

The academical speeches, both those made at the installation of a new
teacher and at the opening of a new course of lectures were delivered
by the professor himself, and treated as occasions of great rhetorical
display. The ordinary university lectures also usually had an
oratorical character.

With regard to forensic eloquence, the quality of the audience
determined the form of speech. In case of need it was enriched with all
sorts of philosophical and antiquarian learning.

As a special class of speeches we may mention the address made in
Italian on the battlefield, either before or after the combat. Federigo
of Urbino was esteemed a classic in this style; he used to pass round
among his squadrons as they stood drawn up in order of battle,
inspiring them in turn with pride and enthusiasm. Many of the speeches
in the military historians of the fifteenth century, as for instance in
Porcellius, may be, in part at least, imaginary, but may be also in
part faithful representations of words actually spoken. The addresses
again which were delivered to the Florentine Militia, organized in 1506
chiefly through the influence of Machiavelli, and which were spoken
first at reviews, and afterwards at special annual festivals, were of
another kind. They were simply general appeals to the patriotism of the
hearers, and were addressed to the assembled troops in the church of
each quarter of the city by a citizen in armor, sword in hand.

Finally, the oratory of the pulpit began in the fifteenth century to
lose its distinctive peculiarities. Many of the clergy had entered into
the circle of classical culture, and were ambitious of success in it.
The street-preacher Bernardino da Siena, who even in his lifetime
passed for a saint and who was worshipped by the populace, was not
above taking lessons in rhetoric from the famous Guarino, although he
had only to preach in Italian. Never indeed was more expected from
preachers than at that time especially from the Lenten preachers; and
there were not a few audiences which could not only tolerate, but which
demanded a strong dose of philosophy from the pulpit. But we have here
especially to speak of the distinguished occasional preachers in Latin.
Many of their opportunities had been taken away from them, as has been
observed, by learned laymen. Speeches on particular saints' days, at
weddings and funerals, or at the installation of a bishop, and even the
introductory speech at the first mass of a clerical friend, or the
address at the festival of some religious order, were all left to
laymen. But at all events at the Papal court in the fifteenth century,
whatever the occasion might be, the preachers were generally monks.
Under Sixtus IV, Giacomo da Volterra regularly enumerates these
preachers, and criticizes them according to the rules of the art. Fedra
Inghirami, famous as an orator under Julius II, had at least received
holy orders and was canon at St. John Lateran; and besides him, elegant
Latinists were now common enough among the prelates. In this matter, as
in others, the exaggerated privileges of the profane humanists appear
lessened in the sixteenth century on which point we shall presently
speak more fully.

What now was the subject and general character of these speeches? The
national gift of eloquence was not wanting to the Italians of the
Middle Ages, and a so-called 'rhetoric' belonged from the first to the
seven liberal arts; but so far as the revival of the ancient methods is
concerned, this merit must be ascribed, according to Filippo Villani,
to the Florentine Bruno Casini, who died of the plague in 1348. With
the practical purpose of fitting his countrymen to speak with ease and
effect in public, he treated, after the pattern of the ancients,
invention, declamation, bearing, and gesticulation, each in its proper
connection. Elsewhere too we read of an oratorical training directed
solely to practical application. No accomplishment was more highly
esteemed than the power of elegant improvisation in Latin. The growing
study of Cicero's speeches and theoretical writings, of Quintilian and
of the imperial panegyrists, the appearance of new and original
treatises, the general progress of antiquarian learning, and the stores
of ancient matter and thought which now could and must be drawn from,
all combined to shape the character of the new eloquence.

This character nevertheless differed widely according to the
individual. Many speeches breathe a spirit of true eloquence,
especially those which keep to the matter treated of; of this kind is
the mass of what is left to us of Pius II. The miraculous effects
produced by Giannozzo Manetti point to an orator the like of whom has
not been often seen. His great audiences as envoy before Nicholas V and
before the Doge and Council of Venice were events not to be soon
forgotten. Many orators, on the contrary, would seize the opportunity,
not only to flatter the vanity of distinguished hearers, but to load
their speeches with an enormous mass of antiquarian rubbish. How it was
possible to endure this infliction for two and even three hours, can
only be understood when we take into account the intense interest then
felt in everything connected with antiquity, and the rarity and
defectiveness of treatises on the subject at a time when printing was
but little diffused. Such orations had at least the value which we have
claimed for many of Petrarch's letters. But some speakers went too far.
Most of Filelfo's speeches are an atrocious patchwork of classical and
biblical quotations, tacked on to a string of commonplaces, among which
the great people he wishes to flatter are arranged under the head of
the cardinal virtues, or some such category, and it is only with the
greatest trouble, in his case and in that of many others, that we can
extricate the few historical no- tices of any value which they really
contain. The speech, for instance, of a scholar and professor of
Piacenza at the reception of the Duke Galeazzo Maria, in 1467, begins
with Julius Caesar, then proceeds to mix up a mass of classical
quotations with a number from an allegorical work by the speaker
himself, and concludes with some exceedingly indiscreet advice to the
ruler. Fortunately it was late at night, and the orator had to be
satisfied with handing his written panegyric to the prince. Filelfo
begins a speech at a betrothal with the words: 'Aristotle, the
peripatetic.' Others start with P. Cornelius Scipio, and the like, as
though neither they nor their hearers could wait a moment for a
quotation. At the end of the fifteenth century public taste suddenly
improved, chiefly through Florentine influence, and the practice of
quotation was restricted within due limits. Many works of reference
were now in existence, in which the first comer could find as much as
he wanted of what had hitherto been the admiration of princes and
people.

As most of the speeches were written out beforehand in the study, the
manuscripts served as a means of further publicity afterwards. The
great extemporaneous speakers, on the other hand, were attended by
shorthand writers. We must further remember that not all the orations
which have come down to us were intended to be actually delivered. The
panegyric, for example, of the elder Beroaldus on Lodovico il Moro was
presented to him in manuscript. In fact, just as letters were written
addressed to all conceivable persons and parts of the world as
exercises, as formularies, or even to serve a controversial end, so
there were speeches for imaginary occasions to be used as models for
the reception of princes, bishops, and other dignitaries.

For oratory, as for the other arts, the death of Leo X (1521) and the
sack of Rome (1527) mark the epoch of decadence. Giovio, but just
escaped from the desolation of the eternal city, described, not
impartially, but on the whole correctly, the causes of this decline:
'The plays of Plautus and Terence, once a school of Latin style for the
educated Romans, are banished to make room for Italian comedies.
Graceful speakers no longer find the recognition and reward which they
once did. The Consistorial advocates no longer prepare anything but the
introductions to their speeches, and deliver the rest--a confused
muddle--on the inspiration of the moment. Sermons and occasional
speeches have sunk to the same level. If a funeral oration is wanted
for a cardinal or other great personage, the executors do not apply to
the best orators in the city, to whom they would have to pay a hundred
pieces of gold, but they hire for a trifle the first impudent pedant
whom they come across, and who only wants to be talked of, whether for
good or ill. The dead, they say, is none the wiser if an ape stands in
a black dress in the pulpit, and beginning with a hoarse, whimpering
mumble, passes little by little into a loud howling. Even the sermons
preached at great Papal ceremonies are no longer profitable, as they
used to be. Monks of all orders have again got them into their hands,
and preach as if they were speaking to the mob. Only a few years ago a
sermon at mass before the Pope might easily lead the way to a
bishopric.'

The Treatise, and History in Latin

From the oratory and the epistolary writings of the humanists, we shall
here pass on to their other creations, which were all, to a greater or

Book of the day: