Renaissance Quarterly

Published by University of Chicago Press
Online ISSN: 1935-0236
Print ISSN: 0034-4338
This article statistically analyzes quantitative data from numerous sources in order to assess changes in marriage patterns, family structure, and rates of social mobility during the period from 1282 to 1494. During this period, three systems of social stratification coexisted -- wealth, political office, and age of family -- but these contending status systems were not consistent in their rankings of families. Each status system was conservative in the sense that elite families at the top of that hierarchy married each other in order to stabilize their position. But because of inconsistency in rankings, contradiction within the elite opened up the Florentine marriage system to widespread upward social mobility by new men. In their own families, successful new men aggressively imitated their economically and politically declining status superiors. Sharp class divisions thereby blurred into continuous and negotiable status gradients. These open-elite patterns of social mobility, present throughout the early Florentine Renaissance, were most extreme during the Albizzi regime, immediately following the Ciompi Revolt.
Prior to the late fifteenth century in Florence, the losers of political conflicts routinely faced exile as punishment for their perceived crimes. Following the Pazzi conspiracy of 1478, however, such political criminals increasingly received death sentences rather than banishment. This article explores how the changing nature of punishment for political crimes in Renaissance Florence from the fifteenth to the sixteenth centuries can he read as a barometer of political change in the city. It examines the relationship between the growing number of political executions and the long transformation of Florence from a republic to a principality, with reference to the broader context of fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Italy.
Putative textual proof for Titian's central involvement in producing illustrations for Vesalius's anatomy book "De fabrica" (1543) requires reexamination. On the basis of orthographic, literary, and historical evidence, a phrase in Annibal Caro's after-dinner speech, here dated to 1536, is shown instead to refer ironically to a surgeon's notorious execution in 1517. "Anatomia" was a word in the satirical as well as the medical lexicon. It is important to understand the satirical tone of Caro's speech about a priapic statuette. Delivered during Carnival to the Roman Academy of Virtue, the speech respects neither antiquities nor artists like Michelangelo in its obscene humor.
This article examines the role played by royal doctors in forming an empirical political science in France at the end of the sixteenth century. Bringing with them tools from the Galenic tradition, doctors such as Rodolphe Le Maistre, Abraham-Nicolas de La Framboisière, and Jean Héroard doubled as political counselors. They not only looked for ways to heal the king's body, they also looked for ways to heal and regulate the body of the nation. Their new vision of the monarch as a practicing physician of the state is an essential yet unknown facet of the origins of political modernity.
This article analyzes the fifteenth-century attempt by the Dominican order, especially in Cologne, to win canonization for the thirteenth-century natural philosopher Albert the Great. It shows how Albert's thought on natural philosophy and magic was understood and variously applied, how the Dominicans at Cologne composed his vitae, and how the order's Observant movement participated in these developments. It situates the canonization attempt at the intersection of two significant trends in which the order was a leading participant: first, the late medieval efforts to reform Christian society beginning with the religious life of monks and mendicants; second, the increasing concerns about the practice of learned and demonic mafic that laid groundwork for the witch-hunting of the early modern period. This article aims to shed light on intersections of science and religion -- their apprehension and negotiation -- at a decisive moment in European history for both fields of human endeavor.
In 1610, the plague hit London with unusual force. Ever since the Black Death more than a century earlier, bubonic plague had been endemic to Britain, and city dwellers were accustomed to the loss often or fifteen lives each year. But when the number of plague deaths exceeded thirty or forty, panic threatened. Then public gathering-places, such as theaters, were closed, since the disease was thought to spread directly through human contact. A predictable exodus from the city began: anyone with money and access to a country house fled for the duration of the epidemic, leaving the less fortunate in the grip of “the Poor's Plague.“’ When members of the dominant social classes decamped, they delegated household authority to their servants. These temporary aristocrats shared the city with quack doctors who sold unicorn's horn and patent nostrums guaranteed to cure the disease. The city took on a macabre carnival atmosphere of license, at least for those who were still healthy.
In many different ways Renaissance physicians concerned themselves with the reading and writing of history. This article examines the role of historical interests in learned medical culture and the participation of physicians in the broader historical culture of the period.
Public anatomies have been characterized as carnivalesque events: like the Carnival, they took place in January and February and celebrated bodily existence. However, in late sixteenth-century Padua and its famous anatomy theater, the annual, public anatomy was a formal, ceremonial event. Girolamo Fabrici, the leading anatomist, gave a philosophical presentation of his research, a presentation organized by topic rather than by the gradual dissection of corpses. For medical students, the annual anatomy and the theater itself encouraged silence, obedience, and docility, reinforcing the virtues that permeated the late humanist environment of Renaissance Padua.
Shakespeare's "Titus Andronicus" critically engages and enacts teachings and patterns of emulation, including those of Quintilian, Roger Ascham, and other contemporary humanists and playwrights, pressing emulation's uses to extremes that suggest that imitative self-fashioning potentially results in monstrous or fragmented characters, decisions, and texts. The professed aim of the grammer-school education, the ability to judge well, is conflicted by "Titus's" exposure of judgment as itself a contested concept, locked within a circularity of intertextual precedents. "Titus's" excessive, even parodic, repetition of emulative strategies acts as a rebuttal of seemingly straightforward humanist models of character, judgment, self, and decorum.
The Antinomian controversy of 1636-1638, the earliest major theological conflict in colonial New England, has attracted much scholarly attention. For many, the central figure in the drama, Anne Hutchinson, is a heroine, a champion of religious freedom against the bigoted theocratic Puritan establishment of Massachusetts Bay captained by the elder John Winthrop, Governor of the colony. Others have interpreted the Puritan prosecution of the Antinomians as perhaps regrettable but absolutely necessary; theological splintering might well have led, as most contemporaries believed it would, to a fatal political weakening of the young colony at a critical moment. One feature of the Antinomian episode, however, has not yet received the attention it deserves: the occurrence of two monstrous births, one in the midst of the controversy (although belatedly discovered) and the other at its denouement.
These pages conclude the inventory of Renaissance Latin Aristotle Commentaries published in Studies in the Renaissance , XXI (1974), 228-289; Renaissance Quarterly , XXVIII (1975), 689-741; XXIX (1976), 714-745; XXX (1977), 681-741; XXXI (1978), 532-603; XXXII (1979), 529-580; XXXIII (1980), 623-734. The commentaries have been arranged alphabetically according to the author's family name, with a brief biobibliographical note and indication of the manuscripts and printed editions. On the completion of this inventory I should like to express my gratitude for the tireless cooperation of Gerlinde Danzeisen and Marlen Wronka.
These pages continue the inventory of Renaissance Latin Aristotle Commentaries published in Studies in the Renaissance, XXI (1974), 228-289; Renaissance Quarterly, XXVIII (1975), 689-741; XXIX (1976), 714-745; XXX (1977), 681-741; XXXI (1978), 532–603. The commentaries have been arranged alphabetically according to the author's family name, with a brief biobibliographical note and indication of the manuscripts and printed editions.
John Dee (1527-1608) has received increasing scholarly attention since the completion in 1952 of I. R. F. Calder's massive dissertation, ‘John Dee Studied as an English Neoplatonist,’ and with the publication of Peter French's John Dee: The World of an Elizabethan Magus, Dee's career and works should be fairly familiar. Prior to Calder's study, John Dee's press had been none too good, and serious scholars have labored under the burden of demonstrating Dee's place within some important intellectual tradition, so that he might be rescued from the opinion, based upon his penchant for occult studies, that he was ‘… the sport, the laughing-stock and die pray of daemons,’ or, in more modern form, ‘a rather silly man.’
This essay argues that John Milton's "A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle" (1634) is influenced by early modern concepts of childhood in a way that critics have not recognized. Childhood was a problematic concept in contemporary religious, pedagogical, and legal discourses. Children were depicted as models of submission, but prone to impetuous indiscretion, and their path to adult agency was strewn with pitfalls, especially in the liminal period of youth. "A Mask" engages with and transforms these discourses. It rejects the political quietism routinely associated with childhood and shows that the child's unique sensitivity may offer a route to a particularly powerful kind of voice.
On the 17th of August 1308 Chiara of Montefalco died in the small Umbrian monastery of which she had been the abbess. Her fellow nuns did not take any steps to preserve her body. Nonetheless, for five days it remained uncorrupted and redolent of the odor of sanctity, despite the blazing summer heat. At that point— not wanting to tempt fate further—the community decided to embalm the precious relic. In the words of Sister Francesca of Montefalco, testifying some years later at Chiara's unsuccessful canonization procedure, “They agreed that [her] body should be preserved on account of her holiness and because God took such pleasure in her body and her heart.” They sent to the town apothecary for “balsam and myrrh and other preservatives,” as the apothecary himself testified, and they proceeded to the next step in contemporary embalming practice, which was evisceration.
This is an Essay About Reading. Though my central texts are visual ones, with what we might now regard as journalistic or anthropologic aims, the thrust of my argument extends beyond any one medium of communication, specific subject, or genre of inquiry. My framing concern here is to examine a historically specific structure, one that Tony Bennett has called a "reading formation": "a set of discursive and intertextual determinations that organize and animate the practice of reading, connecting texts and readers in specific relations to one another by constituting readers and reading subjects of particular types and texts as objects-to-be read in particular ways.
This essay builds on Judith Butler's recent theoretical work in Bodies that Matter by suggesting that the sexual differences that "mattered" in early modern England are not exactly the same as those that "matter" today. In particular, it suggests that facial hair often conferred masculinity during the Renaissance: the beard made the man. The centrality of the beard is powerfully demonstrated by both portraits and theatrical practices. Indeed, virtually all men in portraits painted between the mid-sixteenth and the mid-seventeenth century have some sort of facial hair. Beards were also quite common on the Renaissance stage, and the essay goes on to analyze the use of false beards as theatrical props. These are not, however, the only "texts" from the period that equate being a man with having a beard. Similar formulations appear in a wide range of sources: medical treatises, physiognomy books, poetical works, and tracts on gender. In many of these texts, moreover, facial hair is not simply imagined as a means of constructing sexual differences between men and women; it is also a means of constructing distinctions between men and boys. Thus, it would appear that boys were considered to be a different gender from men during the Renaissance. This division had important ramification for theater practice. It meant, for example, that boy actors would have been as much "in drag" when playing the parts of men as when playing the parts of women. Finally, we need to bear in mind that if facial hair thus served as an important means of materializing masculinity in early modern England, it was also crucially malleable and prosthetic. As a result, we can say that both masculinity and the beard had to constantly made(to) matter.
This article explores the intellectual foundations for the development of princely art collections, and of Italian picture galleries in particular, as spaces for combined physical and mental exercise and recreation. This study then establishes the relationship between the therapeutic function of picture galleries and the manner in which landscape paintings produced for princely collectors at this moment in Italy embodied ideals of both exercise and repose.
Bigallo Captains' Terms of Office
Bigallo Captains' Political Standing
In 1542, Florence's Duke Cosimo I established a magistracy to supervise territorial hospitals and consolidate poor relief. Tense relations between the magistracy and these hospitals demonstrate the barriers to bureaucratic centralization in the sixteenth-century state, and underscore the fact that the shift from traditional charity to 'new philanthropy' was as much geographical and cultural as temporal. Tensions between the magistracy and successive Medici Dukes also demonstrate how in negotiations between bureaucrats and local communities territorial rulers could play both sides to advance their personal authority, and could learn from the difficulties of one magistracy how better to design another.
This article examines the circumstances of the death of Cardinal Guillaume d'Estouteville (d. 1483) and his plans for burial in his Roman church of Sant'Agostino and in the Cathedral of Rouen of which he was archbishop. I argue that the cardinal planned for his body to be interred near the high altar of Sant'Agostino, in a monument since lost, while his heart was to be taken to Rouen and buried in the crossing of the cathedral. By means of an analysis of burial practices in Italy and France, I propose that d'Estouteville's designs anticipated such grandiose sixteenth-century projects as those of Julius II (d. 1513) and Cardinal Georges d'Amboise (d. 1510).
A commonplace of modern feminist scholarship holds that fifteenth-century Italian humanists regarded the figure of the articulate women with hostility and suspicion. This position is insufficiently nuanced: while it may have been true to some extent in republican contexts, it was emphatically not the case in the secular princely courts, where women's capacity for eloquence was frequently a subject of praise. Humanistic attitudes toward female eloquence are examined here with special reference to Ercole de' Roberti's representation of the classical heroine Portia in oratorical guise in his Portia and Brutus, painted at the court of Ferrara in the late 1480s or early '90s. The article contextualizes Roberti's painting with regard to its classical literary sources, to contemporary practices of female oratory, and to the cultural and social self-positioning of the work's probable patron, Duchess Eleonora d'Aragona.
Readers have always found it easier to agree that Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy is a good book than to agree on precisely what makes it so good or what message it is, in its laborious and complicated manner, delivering. As they stress now this aspect and now that of its fathomless richness, they seem at times hardly to be talking about the same work. For example, we are told that Burton is utterly credulous: 'For the nature of evidence (as it is called by the moderns) he cares nothing. Everything is admissible that has been written in a book.' And yet, ‘in Burton the English Renaissance grows… skeptical.' The book is ‘a medical treatise … orderly in arrangement.' Yet it is a ‘trackless jungle.’ It is a ‘formidable statement of … skepticism.' On the contrary, 'no greater adept of Platonism’ than Burton ‘ever lived'; or rather, ‘Burton was, first of all, a neo-Platonist.'6 But then, ‘he is no metaphysician.
I write of melancholy, by being busy to avoid melancholy… . I was not a little offended with this malady, shall I say my mistress Melancholy, my Egeria, or my malus genius [evil genius]? and for that cause, … make an antidote out of that which was the prime cause of my disease. Such teasingly self-referential passages as that quoted above have long led scholars to speculate as to the real physical and mental condition of Robert Burton. Did he suffer, as he claimed, the ravages of melancholy, or was he as a scholar simply assuming the fashionable scholars’ disease as a peg upon which to hang his encyclopedic treatise? Much of this uncertainty arises from gaps in our knowledge of Burton's biography.
The fresco cycle painted at the behest of Pope Sixtus IV in the late 1470s in the main ward of the hospital of Santo Spirito in rome comprises an extended pictorial biography of Sixtus, prefaced by scenes representing the legendary foundation of the hospital by his predecessor Innocent III. The legend, which tells how Innocent established Santo Spirito as a foundling hospital in response to the discovery of victims of infanticide in the Tiber River, positions the pope as the savior of the city's unwanted children. This article elucidates how the construction and renovation of the hospital is presented in the cycle as a generative product of papal will, with the care of foundlings situated as an integral part of the image of the pope as both Father of the Church and restorer of past glory to the city of Rome. While the frescoes engage with both widespread conventions for representing infanticide and commonplace notions of the social value of caring for abandoned children, I demonstrate that the ideologically potent visual rhetoric of foundling care was also flexible, and could be adapted to meet the specific needs of a particular institutional and patronal context.
This essay surveys the use of the metaphors of illness, specifically those of constipation and diarrhea, in vernacular French Evangelical and Calvinist polemical theater of the 1520s and 30s (Berquin, Malingre, Marguerite d' Angoulême) through the 1560s (Badius). It considers the relatively frequent reference to staging of diagnosis, treatment, and cure in the context of contemporary medical belief and practice, and observes a shift in emphasis from optimistic prognosis and successful therapy of the earlier Evangelical period to negative pronouncement of imminent (and deserved) death in the later calvinist or Huguenot period at the start of the Wars of Religion.
When used to understand and combat the spread of bubonic plague, "contagion" is not a very helpful term. Plague is ecologically a complex disease transmitted from rodents to humans via fleas, and human-to-human passage of the disease is uncommon. Moreover, humans do not form lasting immunity to plague and cannot maintain the microorganism in human populations in the absence of infected rodents and their fleas. There can be no "Typhoid Mary" figure in the passage of plague.
Five recently discovered documents reveal for the first time that eyeglasses with concave lenses for myopes were manufactured in Florence from at least the middle of the fifteenth century, about one hundred years before they were thought to be in use. This new evidence throws additional light on the development and early use of spectacles and on the early history of optical instruments and glass technology in general. These documents also reveal for the first time that Florence was the leading manufacturing center of high-quality eyeglasses and that spectacles had already become a prestigious item of personal adornment at least at the court of the dukes of Milan. This information should be of interest to historians of art and costume as well.
This article examines how the experience and critique of their country's decline led Spaniards to craft a distinct discourse of masculinity in the seventeenth century. As they self-consciously examined Spain's crisis and offered political and economic solutions, these same writers also offered a scathing critique of standards of masculinity. Using the figure of the ideal nobleman as a case study, the article examines how moralists, arbitristas, and hagiographers constructed a dynamic code of manhood linked to questions of productivity, male chastity, and military performance. Further, it argues that this discourse was ultimately nostalgic and failed to adapt itself to the circumstances of the seventeenth century.
Laura Cereta is unique among Quattrocento female humanists in directly addressing the position of women as wives and as friends in her substantial corpus of erudite Latin epistolary prose. Questioning the ideals that governed intellectual, social, and personal expectations of matrimony, Cereta's letters reflect her self-consciously double status as humanist and spouse. Her fierce critique of marriage as a site of female oppression and complicity implies an alternative that requires of humanists, husbands, and wives a radical rethinking of marriage in terms of friendship, as well as of the very project of humanist epistolarity.
The rich archival records of the Holy Office of the Inquisition in Venice have yielded much information about early modern society and culture. The transcripts of witchcraft trials held before the Inquisition reveal the complexities of early modern conceptions of natural and supernatural. The tribunal found itself entirely unable to convict individuals charged with performing harmful magic, or maleficio, as different worldviews clashed in the courtroom. Physicians, exorcists, and inquisitors all had different approaches to distinguishing natural phenomena from supernatural, and without a consensus guilty verdicts could not be obtained.
The publication of some forty years ago of the landmark work by Philippe Aries, entitled Centuries of childhood, in its widely-read English translation, unleashed decades of scholarly investigation of that once-neglected target, the child. Since then, historians have uncovered the traces of attitudes toward children- were they neglected, exploited, abused, cherished?- and patterns of child-rearing. They have explored such issues, among others, as the varieties of European household structure; definitions of the stages of life; childbirth, wetnursing, and the role of the midwife; child abandonment and the foundling home; infanticide and its prosecution; apprenticeship, servitude, and fostering; the evolution of schooling; the consequences of religious diversification; and the impact of gender. This essay seeks to identify key features and recent trends amid this abundance of learned inquiry.
For much of their childhood and adult life, the twelve surviving children of William the Silent were separated linguistically and geographically. Many of the children forged important relationships with male primary carers who were not their biological parents. This paper explores the children's correspondence with their biological father William and with paternal figures to understand competing forms of familial authority among William's children. This paper places particular interest on analysis of the gendered negotiation of paternal bonds in the letters of William's sons and daughters, as they established multiple relationships with father figures during their childhood.
This study explores the dynamics between visual images and expectations for feminine monasticism in northern Europe via two paintings from the Cistercian convent of Flines. It argues that abbess Jeanne de Boubais commissioned the images for clerics who had promoted reform of Flines, in order to suggest compliance with the mandates of the program and the integral place of the convent within Cistercian monasticism. In the wake of the dissolution of several convents that had resisted reform, conveying a desire to yield to the Order must have seemed crucial for the community's survival.
The essay shows how two royalist recipe books- The queens closet opened (1655) and The court & kitchin (sic) of Elizabeth (1664)- fashioned Henrietta Maria (1609-69) and Elizabeth Cromwell (1598-1665) as very different housewives to the English nation. By portraying the much-disliked French Catholic Henrietta Maria as engaged in English domestic practices, The queens closet opened implicitly responded to the scandalous private revelations of The kings cabinet opened (1645); while, in contrast, the satiric cookery book attributed to Elizabeth Cromwell stigmatized her as both a country bumpkin and a foreigner. Yet the cookery books also had unintended republicanizing effects, as consumers appropriated the contents of the queen's closet for their own cabinets and kitchens.
This article focuses on women's luxury footwear to examine issues of economic, material, and familial life in Renaissance Italy. It uses graphic work by Albrecht Dürer to explore footwear design, and draw from disparate sources to propose a new method for evaluating its cost. The article argues that sumptuous footwear was available for a range of prices that are not reflected in surviving payment records, and that it was largely less expensive than moralists and legislators implied. In conclusion, it employs Minerbetti documentation to consider the role particular shoes may have played in developing personal subjectivity.
Whereas sport had been justified since antiquity for providing soldiers with the physical training they would require in battle, its utilitarian function waned with the English military's gradual adaptation of firearms during the Renaissance. As a result, sports were increasingly condemned as idle and superfluous phenomena - nothing more than futile competitions between men. In Shakespeare's Henry VI, sport figures as a metaphor for war itself, also condemnable as a result of the historical shift from the politics of chivalric idealism to the "politics of reality". Throughout the trilogy, Shakespeare indicts modern warfare as mere sport for ambitious and corrupt nobles.
This essay traces the opposition of the Galenic notion of a homology between male and female genitalia (the "one-sex model") and identifies the French physician Andre Dulaurens as the first outspoken opponent. After Dulaurens, the German physician Johann Peter Lotichius makes the opposition to that model more clearly an argument that may be called "feminist."
Contrary to a tradition of scholarly insistence on the invisibility of Florentine patrician women outside the domestic sphere, it can be argued such women did in effect perform a significant, public, or quasi-public, function in the negotiation of relationships between the Republic and other Italian, and European, elites. This article assembles fragmentary evidence concerning dancing and musical performance by women directed towards the entertainment of visiting notables in the second half of the Quattrocento, and uses modern concepts of gendered performance and the performance of gender to speculate on the nature of that experience for the women involved.
Some descriptions of ballets performed at the late Valois court in France draw upon accounts of choreographic and equestrian maze-like performances extending back into early antiquity. Common elements include a convoluted complexity in the dancers’ movements, repeated reversals, and a series of patterns variously reformed after regular interruptions. The practice of medieval dances at Easter upon the labyrinth designs of one or more French cathedrals may also have exercised an influence on Renaissance dancing. A sonnet by Ronsard describing a labyrinthine ballet invites at least two metaphysical interpretations. Neoplatonic theories of magic are apparently reflected in the choreography by Balthazar de Beaujoyeulx for his Balet Comique de la Royne . Labyrinth dances in Ben Jonson's masques are associated with Orphic cosmogony. The description of an angelic labyrinth dance in Milton's Paradise Lost leads to historical and theoretical questions concerning the intermittent persistence of the phenomenon. “Here's a maze trod indeed Through forth-rights and meanders!“ — The Tempest
Avaunt, Inchantress! - I am deaf as Adders; Deaf as Ulysses to the Sireni Song, Who strove in vain to lure him to Destruction. — Lewis Theobald Richly suggestive on a variety of levels, Odysseus's encounter with the Sirens in Homer's Odyssey remains one of the best-known episodes in world literature. This article exhumes a once popular variant of that story and tells how wise Ulysses, contrary to the ancient myth, came to stop his own ears against all allurements.
Christopher Marlowe's two-part Tamburlaine the Great (published 1590) captures all of the spirit and something of the scope of legendary violence the historical Tamerlane levied against his enemies. In the course of ten acts Tamburlaine's armies roll over several nations and cultures, leaving thousands of civilians enslaved or worse. Marlowe's graphic representation of the trail of blood and brutality is itself notorious. In the interest of founding his own legend as the hypermasculine “Generall of the world” (1:5.1.451), Tamburlaine practices virtual genocide against his enemies and ethnocide against their cities, religions, and ways of life. By no means does he work alone. The soldier-males who serve in his armies eagerly follow his lead.
No phenomenon reveals the otherness, the alien quality of early modern culture as dramatically as reputed cases of demonic possession. Previously a rare and rather marginal phenomenon, demonic possession became a new plague in the late sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Physically the affliction manifested itself in recurrent fits, convulsions, foaming at the mouth, difficulty eating and drinking, bug-eyes, and extreme contortions of the body. Verbally demoniacs sometimes ranted incoherently; other times, their words were offensively clear to those around them. Speaking with the supposed voice of the devil, demoniacs uttered blasphemies and obscenities, denied fundamental Christian dogmas, and mocked figures of authority.
While no one would deny that Donne's Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions is a unique work of the imagination, critical comment has generally failed to perceive the commonplaces that lie behind Donne's thought. All too often the work has been labeled the 'curious’ product of an ‘anxious and restless mind' when, in fact, Donne's devotional aims lead him to traditional themes and to a view of the self that tends to deny value to personal idiosyncracies. Devotional literature generally demands from both reader and author a kind of impersonality, or better, universality of self. The author of a devotional work focuses on that area of the self in which he and his reader share similar needs: both identify themselves as fallen men, the crucial fact in their self-understanding.
Kepler's treatise on optics of 1604 furnished, along with technical solutions to problems in medieval perspective, a mathematically-based visual language for the observation of nature. This language, based on Kepler's theory of retinal pictures, ascribed a new role to geometrical diagrams. This paper examines Kepler's pictorial language against the backdrop of alchemical emblems that flourished in and around the court of Rudolf II in Prague. It highlights the cultural context in which Kepler's optics was immersed, and the way in which Kepler attempted to demarcate his new science from other modes of the investigation of nature.
Erasmus's writings on marriage, such as the Praise of Marriage, the Institution of CHristian Marriage, and several of the Colloquies, have long be studied from a social-intellectual perspective that focuses on their role within theological debates of the time. This article proposes a different approach by stressing the literary and rhetorical aspects by which these texts seek to influence a reader in his or her "matrimonial praxis." Through the combination of an effective rhetoric of intimacy with the characteristics of literary dialogue, Eramus creates a mimetic discourse aimed at conveying models of conjugal life to be imitated by future readers.
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