Renaissance Humanism encompasses the philosophy that people are capable of truth and
Much of this ideology and philosophy representing art and literature, whose
roots are deeply planted in classic Latin, came to the forefront in the Fifteenth Century.
Art and literature in the Fifteenth Century were a revival of “Greek and Roman
studies, which emphasized the value of the classics for their own sake, rather than for
their relevance to Christianity” (Hunter & Payne, 2003).
Humanists believed that
through the study of “…the classical study of text of ancient Greece and Rome”
(Humanism, 2007) one would be able to improve on society as a whole.
periods, this type of teaching was kept mostly to theologians, authors and philosophers.
During the Renaissance though, the people who had the means and desire to study
classical art and literature were from a broad spectrum of royalty to merchants.
students were not studying for professional reasons but more so for pleasure.
in art broadened from works Classical Greece to what, at the time of the Renaissance,
were referred to as contemporary works and existed as objects of learning or ideal beauty
Literature had its foundation deep in classical roots and there are many
similarities and contrasting points of view in their themes.
One of the most significant
documents of literature, during this period, was the theses (“intellectual propositions”)
written by Giovanni Pico della Mirandola which was entitled
Oration of the Dignity of
The theme of this work “…is that humanity stands at the apex of creation in a way
such as to create the link between the world of God and that of the creation”
(Cunningham & Reich, 2006).
Stating simply that man is the peak of the two forces, one
being God and the other being all that is around him.
One of the scholars that Mirandola
studied was the Greek Philosopher, Plato and his Platonic Realism.
Plato believed that
“good people attain their reward for goodness in another world” (Ross, 2001).
those have completed their life on this earth, they will be justly rewarded in the next
Man has passed the point of being in between the two worlds and has now joined
the world of God.
Oration of the Dignity of Man,
Mirandola states, “of what may be the
condition in the hierarchy of beings assigned to him, which draws upon him the envy, not
of the brutes alone, but of the astral beings and of the very intelligences which dwell
beyond the confines of the world. A thing surpassing belief and smiting the soul with
wonder. Still, how could it be otherwise? For it is on this ground that man is, with
complete justice, considered and called a great miracle and being worthy of all
admiration” (Baird, 2000).
This is a direct correlation what theories are
and is where to
in “…the basic hierarchy, or Great Chain of Being, included God, the angels, man,
animals, plants and inanimate objects, with each of the orders below God subdivided into