The Uses of the Past in Quattrocento Florence: A Reading of Leonardo Bruni's Dialogues

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Although Leonardo Bruni's Dialogi ad Petrum Paulum Histrum have long occupied a central place in the study of Italian Renaissance humanism, scholarly interpretations of them differ markedly. Such differences attest to the formal complexity of this text, the uncertainty about its date of composition, and the obvious contradictions between the arguments offered at different times by its main interlocutor. This essay first briefly describes the scholarly debates that have surrounded Bruni's Dialogues, particularly as these illustrate competing definitions of Florentine humanism. I then argue that the text juxtaposes citation to chronological narration as it explores one central theme in Bruni's humanism, how best to represent the past in and for the present.

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Este libro se propone analizar, en perspectiva comparativa, estos saberes que se traducen en planteamientos respecto del cuerpo y su carácter civil en la obra hospitalaria de los obispos Antonino de Florencia (1349-1459) y Vasco de Quiroga (1470-1565). Ambos autores tienen como punto de referencia las ideas de Tomás de Aquino, razón por la cual aquí son tratados como representantes de un humanismo escolástico.
This book offers a major contribution for understanding the spread and appeal of the humanist movement in Renaissance Florence. Investigating the connections between the individuals who were part of the humanist movement, Brian Jeffrey Maxson reconstructs the networks that bound them together. Overturning the problematic categorization of humanists as either professional or amateurs, a distinction based on economics and the production of original works in Latin, he offers a new way of understanding how the humanist movement could incorporate so many who were illiterate in Latin, but who nonetheless were responsible for an important intellectual and cultural paradigm shift. The book demonstrates the massive appeal of the humanist movement across socio-economic and political groups and argues that the movement became so successful and so widespread because by the 1420s–30s the demands of common rituals began requiring humanist speeches. Over time, deep humanist learning became more valuable in the marketplace of social capital, which raised the status of the most learned humanists and helped disseminate humanist ideas beyond Florence.
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The last fifty years of scholarly research have revealed the fifteenth-century thinker Lorenzo Valla as a powerfully original intellect, difficult to shoehorn into contemporary disciplinary divisions. One of the most interesting areas of his work concerns the intersection of philology, theology, and philosophy, which Valla himself did not, in practice, separate discretely. His Annotations to the New Testament presents a case in point. As a collection of critical notes on the standard Latin translation of the New Testament (the Vulgate), the annotations themselves range from lexicographical to theoretical. Yet the "Preface" that Valla wrote for the Annotations has not been studied in great detail; the two versions of this "Preface" represent Valla's views on the importance of studying scripture with philological tools, his respect for the Greek language, and his strong sense of himself as a rather revolutionary interpreter. This article brings these concerns into relief and offers the first English translation of the two versions of the "Preface.".
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