Uploaded by masone4718 on Nov 28, 2004
The Renaissance was a rebirth of classical textual scholarship, as well as new thought brought about by such prototypical philosophers as Machiavelli, Erasmus, and Sir Thomas More. These three philosophers can be thought of as Renaissance Italy’s greatest thinkers, and that these three men all left a legacy behind them and their ideas.
Hardly any of the Italian Renaissance thinkers were truly original, but the same cannot be said for Italy’s greatest political philosopher, Niccolò Machiavelli. In 1498, Machiavelli became the secretary of the newly found republic of Florence. In 1512, the Medici overthrew the republic, and Machiavelli was removed from his position. He spent the remainder of his life devoting his time to writing. Perhaps his most celebrated work was a short, controversial piece, called The Prince. The Prince was Machiavelli’s attempt to condense his research on the factors behind political success and failure to a series of principles. Machiavelli was practical in thinking when he wrote this, and described the policies of government as they actually were (Lerner 410).
Another mastermind of the Renaissance was Desiderius Erasmus. Erasmus was born near Rotterdam in the mid 15th century, and was forced into a monastery when he was a teenager. Erasmus was a Christian humanist, and he believed that the corruption and immorality was a result of the society forgetting the basic teachings of the Gospels. Erasmus had “three different categories of publication: clever satires meant to show people the error of their ways, serious moral treatises meant to offer guidance toward proper Christian behavior, and scholarly editions of basic Christian texts (Lerner 425.)” One of Erasmus’ most famous works belonged to the first category, The Praise of Folly, in which he ridiculed “Scholastic pedantry and dogmatism”, as well as the “ignorance and superstitious credulity of the masses (Lerner 425.)” Even with Erasmus’ highly impressive literary creations, his textual scholarship can be considered his greatest achievement. Erasmus brought out reliable editions of many Christian works, and he also correctly translated the New Testament, for he thought that “no one could be a good Christian without being certain of exactly what Christ’s message really was (Lerner 425.)” This translation was one of the most significant milestones of biblical scholarship of all time.
One of Erasmus’ closest friends was an Englishman named Sir Thomas More. More’s most renowned publications, was...