LATI 309: Recovery, Rebirth, Regeneration: Classics and the European Renaissance

Recovery, Rebirth, Regeneration: Classics and the European Renaissance

What does it mean for classical culture to be “reborn” in the Renaissance? Who were the key figures to decide which texts and cultural figures were worth preserving and proliferating, and who was the perceived audience? How were instances of classical literature used to maintain or change the status quo in Renaissance Europe? What similarities and differences are evident in the longue durée of Western literature?

These are some of the questions we will ask in this seminar that considers and explores the exceptionally long and robust history of classical culture in the time period we loosely call the Renaissance or “rebirth” of classical culture. Designed as a comparative study of ancient and early modern cultures and literatures, we will investigate the effects that the rediscovery and transmission of classical texts had on Europe from the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries.

Interdisciplinary and wide in scope, the class is divided into four units: Discovery & Rebirth, Imitatio, Myth, and New Latin. As such, this course will cover a variety of topics for students wishing to widen their understanding of classical culture, including the study of literature, literary criticism, and various histories of art, religion, science, and medicine. Students should expect to read from a variety of genres, both in English and in Latin, to answer these intertextual and cross-cultural questions. Students will have an opportunity to compose and perform a short oration, as well as present on early modern anatomical studies for which Latin was the primary lingua franca.

Assigned Latin Texts:

  • Flavio Biondo, proemium to Roma Triumphans
  • Cicero, First Catilinarian
  • Lucretius, selections from De Rerum Natura, Book 1
  • Macrobius, Introduction to Book 6, Saturnalia
  • Letters of the Ciceronian Controversy
  • Lactantius, selections from Institutiones Divinae
  • Livy, Ab Urbe Condita, Lucretia and Sextus Tarquin
  • Ovid, Lucretia from Fasti
  • Ovid, Philomela from Metamorphoses
  • Ovid, Diana and Actaeon from Metamorphoses
  • Thomas More, selections from Utopia
  • Francis Bacon, “Caput XXVIII: Sphinx, sive Scientia,” from De Sapientia Veterum
  • Johannes Kepler, selections from Somnium
  • Augustine, selections from De Genesi ad Litterum
  • Reginald Foster, selections from Libellus Memorialis Itineris Admirandi ‘Apollinis XI’
  • Andreas Vesalius, selections from De Humani Corporis Fabrica

Assigned Texts in Translation:

  • Pico della Mirandola, Oration on the Dignity of Man
  • Petrarch, Letters to Cicero
  • Poggio, Letters to Niccolo Niccoli
  • Letters of the Ciceronian Controversy
  • Sir Philip Sidney, An Apology for Poetry
  • Shakespeare, Rape of Lucrece
  • Arthur Golding, Preface to Metamorphoses translation
  • Arthur Golding, Philomel, selections from Metamorphoses translation
  • Shakespeare, Titus Andronicus
  • Petrarchan and Elizabethan sonnets
  • Francis Bacon, New Atlantis
  • Johannes Valentin Andreae, Reipublicae Christianopolitanae Descriptio
  • Galileo, Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina