Encyclopedia of Medieval Philosophy

2011 Edition
| Editors: Henrik Lagerlund

Petrarch

  • Andreas Kamp
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9729-4_389

Abstract

Petrarch vitally contributed to several fields that are intrinsically interconnected. The intellectual center of gravity that unified these topics was his consistent orientation on Roman antiquity.

Petrarch thoroughly and categorically excoriated the reigning Aristotelian scholastic philosophy and theology. He accused them of verbal wretchedness, scientific irrelevance, practical inefficiency, and a metaphysical and religious misorientation. He countered by developing a radically innovative philosophical program. This was thematically focused on topics concerning man, while formulating as principal goals the restitution of a sophisticated Latin, the establishment of a practically effective moral philosophy, and a return to simple faith. His examples were the great authors of Roman antiquity, including both pagan writers and Church Fathers, first and foremost among them, St Augustine, followed by Cicero, Seneca, and St Ambrose.

Petrarch was distinctly dissatisfied with his own times, both with the political state of affairs and with the intellectual status quo. His broad knowledge of classical Roman literature led to an innovative structuring of history. Petrarch divided history into antiquity, the long-running “middle”, and a future age which he hoped was soon to unfold. In its core, he thus anticipated the well-known distinction applied even today by all disciplines working in the field of history into Antiquity, Middle Ages, and Modern Times. Petrarch also organized the single eras hierarchically. Roman Antiquity figured as the shining paradigm; the Middle Ages were nothing but “dark”; and, if his philosophical and political program was put into action, the future era would shine more brightly than his “middle” age, approaching the level of antiquity.

Finally, Petrarch also developed an innovative project concerning the political state of Italy, one that was to form its future while being equally inspired by antique Rome. Petrarch’s two complimentary goals consisted of freeing Italy from foreign rule and establishing a “nationwide” unity.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Bibliography

Primary Sources

  1. Machiavelli Niccolò (1971) Il Principe. In: Tutte le Opere, a cura di M. Martelli. Sansoni, Firenze, pp 255–298Google Scholar
  2. Petrarca Francesco (1942) Ad Agapitum de Columna. In: Le Familiari, vol IV: Libri XX–XXIV, per cura di U. Bosco. Sansoni, Firenze, pp 27–31Google Scholar
  3. Petrarca Francesco (1964) De viris illustribus, edizione critica per cura di G. Martellotti. Sansoni, FirenzeGoogle Scholar
  4. Petrarca Francesco (1974) Sine nomine. Lettere polemiche e politiche, Latino-Italiano, a cura di U. Dotti, Laterza, Roma/BariGoogle Scholar
  5. Petrarca Francesco (1975) De sui ipsius et multorum ignorantia. In: Opere Latine, Latino-Italiano, a cura di A. Bufano, vol II. UTET, Torino, pp 1025–1151Google Scholar
  6. Petrarca Francesco (1998) Epistola Posteritati, a critical edition with an English translation by Enenkel K. In: Enenkel K, de Jong-Crane B, Liebregts P (eds) Modelling the individual – biography and portrait in the Renaissance, with a critical edition of Petrarch’s “Letter to posterity”. Rodopi, Amsterdam/Atlanta, pp 243–281Google Scholar
  7. Petrarca Francesco (2001) A Cola di Rienzo e al popolo romano. In: Aufrufe zur Errettung Italiens und des Erdkreises – Ausgewählte Briefe. Latein-Deutsch, hrsg., eingel. u. übersetzt v. B. Widmer, Schwabe, Basel, pp 76–103Google Scholar
  8. Petrarca Francesco Al popolo romano. In: Aufrufe zur Errettung Italiens und des Erdkreises, pp 180–199Google Scholar
  9. Petrarca Francesco Ad Carolum quartum. In: Aufrufe zur Errettung Italiens und des Erdkreises, pp 370–383Google Scholar
  10. Petrarca Francesco Ad Carolum quartum. In: Aufrufe zur Errettung Italiens und des Erdkreises, pp 484–523Google Scholar
  11. Petrarca Francesco (2004a) Ad Franciscum priorem Sanctorum Apostolorum de Florentia. In: Epistulae Metricae, Latein-Deutsch, hrsg., übers. u. erl. v. O. u. E. Schönberger. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg, pp 322–323Google Scholar
  12. Petrarca Francesco (2004b) Secretum meum, Latein-Deutsch, hrsg., übers. u. mit einem Nachwort v. G. Regn u. B. Huss. Dieterich’sche Verlagsbuchhandlung, MainzGoogle Scholar

Secondary Sources

  1. Baron H (1968) The evolution of Petrarch’s thought: reflections on the state of Petrarch studies. In: Baron H (ed) From Petrarch to Leonardo Bruni – studies in humanistic and political literature. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, pp 7–50Google Scholar
  2. Billanovich G (1960) Nella biblioteca del Petrarca. IMU 3:1–58Google Scholar
  3. Carrara E (1959) L’epistola “Posteritati” e la leggenda petrarchesca. In: Carrara E (ed) Studi petrarcheschi ed altri scritti, raccolta a cura di amici e discepoli. Bottega d’Erasmo, Torino, pp 1–76Google Scholar
  4. Comitato Nazionale VII centenario della nascita di Francesco Petrarca (2006) Petrarca Politico – Atti del convegno (Roma-Arezzo, 19–20 marzo 2004). Istituto Storico Italiano per il Medio Evo, RomaGoogle Scholar
  5. de Nolhac P (1959) Pétrarque et l’humanisme, avec un portrait inédit de Pétrarque et des fac-similés de ses manuscrits, ristampa Bottega d’Erasmo, TorinoGoogle Scholar
  6. Dotti U (1987) Vita di Petrarca. Laterza, Roma/BariGoogle Scholar
  7. Gerosa PP (1966) Umanesimo cristiano del Petrarca – influenza agostiniana, attinenze medievali. Bottega d’Erasmo, TorinoGoogle Scholar
  8. Goldin Folena D (1992/1993) Petrarca e il medioevo latino. Quaderni Petrarcheschi 9/10:459–487Google Scholar
  9. Kamp A (1989) Petrarcas philosophisches Programm – Über Prämissen, Antiaristotelismus und ‘Neues Wissen’ in “De sui ipsius et multorum ignorantia”. Lang, Frankfurt M./Bern/New York/ParisGoogle Scholar
  10. Kessler E (1978) Petrarca und die Geschichte – Geschichtsschreibung, Rhetorik, Philosophie im Übergang vom Mittelalter zur Neuzeit. Fink, MünchenGoogle Scholar
  11. Mommsen Th E (1959) Petrarch’s conception of the ‘Dark Ages’. In: Rice EF (ed) Medieval and Renaissance studies. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, pp 106–129Google Scholar
  12. Regn G (2004) Aufbruch zur Neuzeit: Francesco Petrarca 1304–1374. In: Speck R, Neumann F (eds) Francesco Petrarca 1304–1374 – Werk und Wirkung im Spiegel der Biblioteca Petrarchescha Reiner Speck. Dumont, Köln, pp 33–77Google Scholar
  13. Ricci PG (1999) Francesco Petrarca (1304–1374). In: Ricci PG (ed) Miscellanea Petrarchesca, a cura di M. Berté. Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, Roma, pp 159–187Google Scholar
  14. Quillen CE (1998) Rereading the Renaissance – Petrarch, Augustine, and the language of humanism. University of Michigan Press, Ann ArborGoogle Scholar
  15. Stierle K (2003) Francesco Petrarca – Ein Intellektueller im Europa des 14. Jahrhunderts. Hanser, München/WienGoogle Scholar
  16. Trinkaus Ch (1979) The poet as philosopher – Petrarch and the formation of Renaissance consciousness. Yale University Press, New HavenGoogle Scholar
  17. Ullman BL (1973) Petrarch’s favorite books. In: Ullman BL (ed) Studies in the Italian Renaissance, 2 edn. with additions and corrections. Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, Roma, pp 113–133Google Scholar
  18. Vasoli C (1992/1993) Petrarca e i filosofi del suo tempo. Quaderni Petrarcheschi 9/10:75–92Google Scholar
  19. Weiss R (1977) Petrarca e il mondo greco. In: Weiss R (ed) Medieval and humanist Greek – collected essays. Antenore, Padova, pp 166–192Google Scholar
  20. Zintzen C (1992/1993) Il platonismo del Petrarca. Quaderni Petrarcheschi 9/10:93–113Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andreas Kamp
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Politische WissenschaftUniversität zu KölnCologneGermany