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From Jacob Burckhardt's 2nd edition of the Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy; edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS
» Full Contents of this Part
Part Three: The Revival of Antiquity » Introductory » The Ruins of Rome » The Classics » The Humanists » Universities and Schools » Propagators of Antiquity » Epistolography: Latin Orators » The Treatise, and History in Latin » Antiquity as the Common Source » Neo-Latin Poetry » Fall of the Humanists in the Sixteenth Century
We cannot attempt to trace the influence of humanism in the special sciences. Each has its own history, in which the Italian investigators of this period, chiefly through their rediscovery of the results attained by antiquity, mark a new epoch, with which the modern period of the science in question begins with more or less distinctness. With regard to philosophy, too, we must refer the reader to the special historical works on the subject. The influence of the old philosophers on Italian culture will appear at times immense, at times inconsiderable; the former, when we consider how the doctrines of Aristotle, chiefly drawn from the Ethics and Politics - both widely diffused at an early period - became the common property of educated Italians, and how the whole method of abstract thought was governed by him; the latter, when we remember how slight was the dogmatic influence of the old philosophies, and even of the enthusiastic Florentine Platonists, on the spirit of the people at large. What looks like such an influence is generally no more than a consequence of the new culture in general, and of the special growth and development of the Italian mind. When we come to speak of religion, we shall have more to say on this head. But in by far the greater number of cases, we have to do, not with the general culture of the people with the utterances of individuals or of learned circles; and here, too, a distinction must be drawn between the true assimilation of ancient doctrines and fashionable make-believe. For with many, antiquity was only a fashion, even among very learned people.
Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
The Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * The Making of Europe