Einführung: Prof. Dr. Bernhard Huss (Direktor des Italienzentrums der Freien Universität Berlin) In englischer Sprache In Zusammenarbeit mit der DFG-Forschungsgruppe FOR 2305 – Diskursivierungen von Neuem At the beginning of the Discourses on
Einführung: Prof. Dr. Bernhard Huss (Direktor des Italienzentrums der Freien Universität Berlin)
In englischer Sprache
In Zusammenarbeit mit der DFG-Forschungsgruppe FOR 2305 – Diskursivierungen von Neuem
At the beginning of the Discourses on Livy, Niccolò Machiavelli pondered the reasons why his contemporaries read ancient Roman histories for pleasure without ever daring to think it could be possible to imitate them, “as if heaven, the sun, the elements, and men should have changed the order of their motions and power, from what they were anciently.” Machiavelli’s question has often been considered a mere rhetorical device. Indeed, the idea of a progressive aging of the world has ancient origins based on biological schemes concerning the ages of the world and the Christian theory on the ‘senectus mundi’. The paper will illustrate that the senescence of the world is not just a rhetorical topos inherited from medieval literature, but a scientific and cosmological paradigm, which at the end of the fifteenth century became a key component of the humanistic debate on imitation. By presenting little-known or neglected literary, scientific and philosophical texts facing medical and astrological theories on the ‘world grown old’ elaborated by late medieval scientific literature, the paper will deal with this central theme (imitatio) of Renaissance culture in a radically new perspective. It will show how the debate over imitation of antiquity’s cultural, civic and military models among Quattrocento Italian humanists had to face a new cosmological view, which claimed the progressive aging of the celestial bodies and the decay of the sublunary world.
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