Inventing Inventors in Renaissance Europe: Polydore Vergil's De Inventoribus Rerum
Polydore Vergil of Urbino (ca.1470-1555) fired his readers' imagination with his encyclopaedic book On the inventors of all things ( De inventoribus rerum 1499). His account of the manifold origins of sciences, crafts and social institutions is a praise of man's inventive genius and a prototypical cultural history. Polydorus was a household name for several centuries. Erasmus envied his friend the book's success, Rabelais heaped scorn on it, Catholic censors put it on the index, while Protestants were fascinated with that papist work. In this first in-depth study of the Renaissance 'bestseller', Catherine Atkinson examines not only the Italian humanist's bona fide (mostly ancient) inventors, in books I-III, she enquires into the neglected and misunderstood, yet equally important, books IV-VIII (1521). This early modern text, written on the eve of the Reformation, is devoted to the highly controversial topic of the 'invention' of ecclesiastical institutions. The priest and humanist Vergil, who during his 50 years in England rose in the church hierarchy, is shown to be an acute observer of contemporary religious practice. He employs the inventor question (who was the first to do this?) as an instrument of historiography and by comparing medieval church rites and institutions with religious practice of antiquity, implicitly questions the singularity of the Christian church.
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Inventio history of an idea
Polydore Vergil Italian priest and humanist
Introducing De inventoribus rerum
He who first yoked oxen to a plough
Pagan and Jewish survivals and Christian beginnings
The works reception
Vergils use of sources in DIR VI c 11 on litanies
List of illustrations
Adagia Adriano Castellesi ancient Anglica historia anteludia antiquity Apuleius artes mechanicae authors Basel Beroaldo Bishop cardinals Castellesi chapter Christian beginnings church commentary concept contemporary Copenhaver cultural customs demons discovery discussed divine earlier early ecclesia ecclesiastical encyclopaedic England English Erasmus euhemerist Eusebius example expurgated five later books Flacius gods Golden Ass Greek human humanist institutions interest inventio inventions inventoribus rerum inventors inventorship Italian Italy Jewish Johannes Josephus knowledge Lactantius later editions Latin editions letter Liber Pontificalis libri litanies liturgy Matthias Flacius medieval mentioned modern Naturalis historia op.cit ordo artium origins pagan papal Pliny Polydore Vergil pompa popes practice priests printed published quae question quod quoted readers Reformation religion religious Renaissance rites Roman Rome Sabellico sacrifice sixteenth century sources term three books tions topic tradition translation Urbino various Venice Vergil's De inventoribus Verrius Flaccus writing ZEDELMAIER