The Return of Lucretius to Renaissance Florence

Front Cover
Harvard University Press, 2010 - History - 139 pages
1 Review

In this first comprehensive study of the effect of Lucretius's De rerum natura on Florentine thought in the Renaissance, Alison Brown demonstrates how Lucretius was used by Florentine thinkers‚e"earlier and more widely than has been supposed‚e"to provide a radical critique of prevailing orthodoxies.

To answer the question of why ordinary Florentines were drawn to this recently discovered text, despite its threat to orthodox Christian belief, Brown tracks interest in it through three humanists‚e"the most famous of whom was Machiavelli‚e"all working not as philologists but as practical administrators and teachers in the Florentine chancery and university. Interpreting their direct use of Lucretius within the context of mercantile Florence, Brown highlights three dangerous themes that had particular appeal: Lucretius's attack on superstitious religion and an afterlife; his pre-Darwinian theory of evolution; and his atomism, with its theory of free will and the chance creation of the world.

The humanists' challenge to established beliefs encouraged the growth of a "Lucretian network" of younger, politically disaffected Florentines. Brown thus adds a missing dimension to our understanding of the "revolution" in sixteenth-century political thinking, as she enriches our definition of the Renaissance in a context of newly discovered worlds and new social networks.

 

What people are saying - Write a review

Review: The Return of Lucretius to Renaissance Florence

User Review  - Michael Kallan - Goodreads

Extremely well-written, the book was a bit too academic for my tastes. Happy to have read it though, as it built on several themes from The Swerve that I wanted to know more about... Read full review

Contents

Marsilio Ficino and Bartolomeo Scala
16
The University Lectures
42
Machiavelli and the Influence of Lucretius
68
Lucretian Networks in the Late Fifteenth
88
Notes on Machiavellis Transcription
113
Select Bibliography
123
Index
129
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2010)

Alison Brown is Emerita Professor of Italian Renaissance History at the University of London, Royal Holloway.

Bibliographic information