Arcadia To Arithmetic (Renaissance and Reformation)


The remote, mountainous area of southern Greece to which Virgil referred in his Eclogues and which thus passed into literary convention as the setting for the idealized world of the pastoral. When writers revived the pastoral as a literary form in the Renaissance, it was the idealized landscape of Arcadia, not the reality, which dominated their works, and "Arcadia" became the title of more than one book. In 1504 a sequence of verse eclogues linked by prose narrative was published by the Neapolitan poet Jacopo sannazaro. The first pastoral romance, it concerns the unrequited love of the hero Sincero who retires into Arcadia to share the rustic life of the shepherds. Written in Italian, rather than Latin, it was a very popular and influential work. The Arcadia of Sir Philip sidney, a pastoral romance in prose, interspersed with lyrics, exists in two versions. The first was written between 1577 and 1580, but during the years 1580-84 Sidney undertook a radical revision of the work and added a third book. This version was published posthumously as The Countesse of Pembroke’s Arcadia (1590). Common to both is the golden world of Arcadia itself and the trials and exploits of the two princes Musidorus and Pyrocles as they struggle to win their loves.


A word introduced by paracelsus to denote the vital power of an organism to respond appropriately to various stimuli. Thus, the role of the archeus of the stomach was to extract the digestible parts of food and dispose of the remainder. A failure of the archeus would lead to poisoning and sickness. The notion persisted throughout the 17th century but finally disappeared before the growing acceptance of the mechanical philosophy.


Humanist scholarship of the early 15th century, characterized by a nostalgic yearning for the bygone age of Roman splendor, had far-reaching repercussions within the visual arts. Both classical literature and the antique monuments that survived throughout Italy acted as testimonials to the glories of Rome before the influx of the barbarians and their foreign (Gothic) culture. Not surprisingly, architects were quick to translate the humanists’ literary attempts to emulate antiquity into "the ancient manner of building." vitruvius, whose architectural treatise, De architectura, survived from antiquity, was known throughout the Middle Ages in Italy, but Poggio bracci-olini’s discovery (1414) of a superior manuscript of De ar-chitectura coincided with a surging interest in the principles of ancient building. The editio princeps, without illustrations, appeared at Rome (c. 1486); Fra giocondo published an illustrated edition at Venice in 1511; Cesari-ano’s Italian translation followed in 1521, and Daniele barbaro’s version came out in 1556, with illustrations by palladio.

Vitruvian theory centered upon three elements: utility, strength, and beauty. The concept of beauty was to preoccupy Renaissance architects from brunelleschi to Inigo jones. Vitruvius’ notion of beauty derived from the modular interrelationship of every part of the whole, creating a harmonious and symmetrical unit. alberti, in his widely disseminated treatise De re aedificatoria (editio princeps 1485), defined beauty as "the harmony of all the parts . fitted together with such proportion and connection that nothing could be added, diminished, or altered but for the worse.." This summarized the underlying principles of Renaissance architecture. Thus Alberti introduced large volutes on the upper story of Sta. Maria Novella (1456-70) in Florence in order to unify visually the nave and aisles, and Brunelleschi, in designing the Os-pedale degli Innocenti (1421), also in Florence, laid out the plan on a grid system and ensured that the placement of the exterior doors mirrored the disposition of the interior spaces.

Vitruvius regarded architecture as an imitation of nature. For instance, he distinguished three column types, Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian, whose proportions and symbolism derived, respectively, from a man, matron, and young girl. This anthropomorphic view of architecture had a profound influence on Renaissance architects who were working in an age that celebrated man’s individuality. However, the correct use of the vocabulary of orders was a High Renaissance phenomenon. bramante employed the Tuscan Doric order in the Tempietto in San Pietro in Montorio, Rome, as befitting a martyrium commemorating St. Peter but francesco di giorgio martini, the early Renaissance theorist, took anthropomorphism to fanciful extremes in his sketches of young girls trapped within the confines of a column shaft.

Nineteenth-century art historians castigated the Renaissance masters for their imitation of pagan antiquity, but the Renaissance was not about imitation, rather the application of the antique to provide a new architectural vocabulary employed in a creative manner. Brunelleschi’s Pazzi chapel in Florence, begun in 1429, has a portico carried on columns and pilasters on the interior walls which look as if they support an entablature, creating a visual harmony of forms and colors which derive from, but do not plagiarize, antique motifs. Alberti imposed a pedi-mented triumphal arch on the facade of the Mantuan church of Sant’ Andrea (c. 1470) and placed sarcophagi in arches along the side of the tempio malatestiano in Rimini in emulation of the antique. Pagan temples, such as that of Minerva Medica in Rome, were to inspire a fascination with the circular form. Brunelleschi, Alberti, leonardo da vinci, michelozzo and Bramante all experimented with circular forms in relation to church design. Its association with pagan worship lent the circular plan an air of controversy, although Alberti maintained that the circle, according to Neoplatonic theory, was appropriate to Christian piety, for it was the basis of divine harmony in nature. The problem remained, however, that a centrally planned church did not accommodate the need to separate clergy and laity according to Roman liturgy. Thus, although Bramante designed St. Peter’s, Rome, in the form of a Greek cross, it was built in the traditional basilica shape.

Secular architecture gave Renaissance architects far more scope in the use of antique vocabulary. Designs for theaters show the gradual adaptation of classical plans to the different dramatic circumstances of the Renaissance. The urban palazzo emerged quite naturally from the classical insula, with its shops on the ground floor and living quarters on the piano nobile. Michelozzo’s Palazzo Medici Riccardi (1444), with its rusticated basement and airy courtyard, has a massive classical cornice, and Alberti’s Palazzo Rucellai (c. 1445-51) exhibits a network of superimposed pilasters on its facade. These examples of early Renaissance architecture are characterized by a superficial application of classical motifs. raphael’s design for the Villa Madama (c. 1518) in Rome was a reinterpre-tation of an antique villa based upon the writings of Pliny the Younger (c. 61-c. 113 ce).

Pope julius ii’s ambitious building program, which included the reconstruction of St. Peter’s and the Vatican palace, as well as the development of new streets, moved the focus of Renaissance art from Florence to Rome. Working in the shadow of majestic classical monuments, architects were compelled towards a new and archaeolog-ically pure interpretation of the antique. In 1515 Raphael was appointed superintendent of Roman antiquities, which prompted his scheme to measure and draw Roman remains. The newly uncovered Domus Aurea (Golden House) of Nero, with its rich grotesque interior decoration, inspired the all’antiqua decoration of Raphael’s Vatican Loggie (1518-19) and the facade of the Palazzo dell’ Aquila (now destroyed). An increasing desire for a "Roman" quality in architecture, led to a greater monu-mentality in the handling of space and a greater plasticity in ornamentation. Bramante’s design for the internal spaces of St. Peter’s shows apses and chapels scooped out of the heavy wall mass. The Roman Palazzo Vidoni Ca-farelli, perhaps by Raphael (c. 1525), has a grandly sculpted facade with windows on the piano nobile set between paired columns. This rich and rhythmical facade contrasts with the flat surface of the Palazzo Rucellai, where the ornamentation is applied rather than organic. The Palazzo farnese, begun in 1517 to designs by Antonio da sangallo and modified by michelangelo, vig-nola, and Giacomo della porta, was the last great Roman monument of the High Renaissance. The huge wall expanse, enlivened by perfectly proportioned aedicules and bold quoins, and the imposing central doorway create a gravity and elegance that summarized the architectural aims of the period. Henceforth the High Renaissance buildings of Rome would combine with classical remains as a source for architects such as Palladio, who would spread the new architectural vocabulary to northern Italy and beyond.

The Italian Renaissance was exported to the north in the wake of the French invasions of Italy, beginning in 1494 when the armies of Charles VIII marched into Lom-bardy. The spread of Renaissance values depended upon political and economic circumstances; after 1620, for instance, the Thirty Years’ War precluded building on any scale in Germany and Austria during the first half of the 17th century, and abruptly curtailed the output of those architects, like Elias holl, who had transplanted the Italian ideals.

Without first-hand knowledge of remains of classical antiquity, the northern architects’ response to Renaissance principles was fundamentally derivative. In France and England the Italian style of building was applied merely to surface decoration. The 16th-century French chateaux of chambord and chenonceaux were sophisticated pastiches of Italian palazzi, with antique motifs superimposed upon the medieval French fortress plan. In England an extravagant expression of mainly medieval splendor emerged during the Elizabethan age (see elizabethan style), 150 years after Brunelleschi initiated the Renaissance in Florence. The only country to employ a pure Italian style in the 16th century was Spain, although the exuberant plateresque idiom was also in evidence at least until mid-century. The escorial, built for Philip II, displays an austere classicism, the centralized plan of its church recalling Bramante. However, by the 17th century this Italianate style was eclipsed by the excesses of the baroque. Elsewhere the deeply rooted Gothic traditions continued until the advent of Inigo Jones in England and Francois Mansart and Louis Le Vau in France in the 17th century.

Arcimboldo, Giuseppe

(c. 1527-1593) Italian painter His early designs for stained-glass windows (1549-58) for the cathedral in his native Milan gave little hint of the bizarre later paintings for which he is best known. In 1562 he moved to the Hapsburg court in Prague, where he designed court entertainments and ceremonies and painted settings for the imperial theater. The volume of drawings of designs for Hapsburg court festivities that Arcimboldo presented to Emperor Rudolf II in 1585 (now in the Uffizi, Florence) displayed to his patron the artist’s technical mastery and inventive talent. His grotesque oil paintings of symbolic figures composed of such objects as pieces of fruit, vegetables, and birds are said to have influenced 20th-century surrealist painters; his depictions of Summer and Winter (1563, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna) are typical examples, as is his famous portrait of Rudolf as Vertemnus (c. 1591; Skoklosters Slott, Sweden). He was made a count palatine by Rudolf in 1592, a year before his death in Milan.

Arena Chapel (Scrovegni Chapel)

The chapel built (1303-05) for Enrico Scrovegni on the site of a first-century Roman amphitheater (arena) in Padua. The interior is decorated with frescoes by giotto and his followers. The main decorative scheme, in three zones along the side walls, depicts the history of the Redemption in scenes from the lives of Mary and Jesus Christ. A fourth zone, below these, has monochrome allegorical figures of the virtues and vices. The Arena frescoes are a significant move away from the Byzantine style that then dominated Italian art, but not yet a definitive break with it. In the depiction of the Kiss of Judas, for example, there is an intense stillness in the central figure of Christ amid a throng of agitated figures and brandished weapons as the hunched figure of Judas approaches him; the drama and emotion of this scene are quite alien to the hieratic, essentially static forms of the Byzantine tradition.


A shadowy, perhaps fictitious, literary society of poets who aimed to reform English poetry along classical lines in the late 1570s. Chief among them were spenser, sidney, and Sir Edward Dyer (1543-1607), all proteges of the earl of Leicester, at whose house they could have met. The name derives from the hill northwest of the Athenian Acropolis, on which the tribunal of the ancient city used to meet.

Aretino, Pietro

(1492-1556) Italian poet and dramatist The son of a shoemaker in Arezzo (the town from which he took his name), Aretino probably received little formal education. However, in 1510 he went to Perugia where he was soon welcomed into the company of cultivated men and was able to develop his interest in painting and poetry. In 1517 he moved to Rome, eventually joining the literary circle around Pope leo x. Here his lifelong love of political and ecclesiastical gossip surfaced in a series of vicious pasquinades that found favor with Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici, whose rivals for the papacy Aretino lampooned (see clement vii). Predictably, Aretino soon went too far with his pornographic illustrated collection of Sonnetti lussuriosi (Lewd Sonnets; 1524); he was eventually forced to retreat to Venice (1527) where he lived out his life in grand, if dissolute, style, surrounded by many of the great artists of the day.

Aretino continued his satirical campaigns, transforming Venice’s somewhat unsophisticated broadsheets by his acute political comments. His six volumes of letters (1537-57) also demonstrate the great force and versatility of his writing. Known, in a phrase of ariosto’s, as "il fla-gello dei principe" (the scourge of princes), Aretino never moderated his attacks on the powerful, many of whom placated him with gifts which became the chief source of his income. Ragionamenti (1534-36), in which Roman prostitutes discuss their eminent clients, shows him at his most venomous in his condemnation of moral and political corruption in Rome. His plays, on the other hand, lack the obsessively satirical intent of his prose works. The tragedy Orazia (1546) and his five comedies written between 1524 and 1544 are often considered to be some of the greatest works of the period. The comedies, which deal mainly with lower-middle-class life, are noticeably free from the conventions that dogged most other dramas of the time. Best known among them is La cortigiana (Life at court), which was first performed in 1537. Aretino, who also tried his hand at the genres of poetry, devotional writing, and romantic epic, was one of the most vigorous and inventive writers of the 16th century.

Argyropoulos, John

(c. 1415-1487) Byzantine scholar He was born into a noble family in Constantinople, where he became a priest. His first visit to Italy was before 1434; in that year he was lecturing at Padua on the works of Aristotle. In 1439 he attended Emperor John Palaeologus at the Council of florence. By 1441 he was back in Constantinople, but he returned to Italy in 1442, when he became rector of Padua university. Cosimo de’ medici was one of his patrons and he was tutor to Piero, Cosimo’s son, and to Lorenzo de’ medici. When Lorenzo assumed power in Florence, Argyropoulos became a leading member of his platonic academy, where he taught politian and other humanists. In 1456 he visited France, then returned to Florence, and eventually settled in Rome some time before 1471. He continued to expound the works of Aristotle and other Greek authors. The German scholar reuchlin was among his pupils. He wrote many original commentaries on Aristotle and translated a number of his works into Latin; much of Argyropoulos’ original work remains unprinted. He was an important member of the first generation of Greek teachers in the West who helped to encourage the revival of classical learning.

Arias (y) Montano, Benito (1527-1598)

Spanish priest and writer

Arias Montano was born at Fregenal de la Sierra, near Badajoz, and studied oriental languages at Seville, Alcala, and Leon. He accompanied the bishop of Segovia to the Council of trent, and was noted for his ability and erudition. He returned to a hermitage at Aracena, near Seville, and later was appointed professor of oriental languages and librarian at the escorial. As editor of the Antwerp Polyglot Bible (1568-73) he was denounced to the Inquisition for attaching too much importance to the Hebrew and Aramaic texts; tried and acquitted, he afterwards retired to Seville. He was the author of theological and historical works, including one on Jewish antiquities (1593), and a poetic paraphrase of the Song of Solomon.

Ariosto, Ludovico

(1474-1533) Italian poet Ariosto was born at Reggio, in Emilia. He studied law by necessity and literature by inclination at Ferrara, then joined the household of Cardinal Ippolito d’ Este, whom he served from 1503 to 1517. After this he entered the service of the cardinal’s brother, Duke Alfonso I, who appointed him ducal commissioner at Garfagnana (1522). Ariosto spent three testing years there, after which he retired (1527) to Ferrara where he devoted his remaining days to meditation and the revising of his masterpiece orlando furioso, which he had started in 1502 and completed only a few months before he died.

Ariosto’s other major work belongs to the period 1517-25, a set of seven Satires or verse epistles in the Ho-ratian manner, written in terza rima and depicting Fer-rarese court life. Ariosto has also been seen as a pioneer dramatist, since his verse comedies, such as I suppositi (1509), though minor works in themselves, were the earliest vernacular plays based closely on Latin models which were to be a feature of European domestic comedy. He also supervised the building of a theater at Ferrara in which his plays were performed. He died in Ferrara, having achieved recognition during his last years as Italy’s greatest contemporary poet.

Aristotelianism, Renaissance

The first printed edition of arlstotle’s Opera omnia appeared in Padua in 1472-74; it was followed in the period 1495-98 by the publication of the Greek princeps. Thereafter the continuing importance of Aristotle to the Renaissance scholar is revealed by the publication of 13 further editions of his collected works during the 16th century. For some, the Aristotelian canon was both comprehensive and authoritative. So much so, according to a well-publicized minority, that anything unrecorded by Aristotle was obviously fictitious. Such obtuseness was shown, for example, by the Paduan philosopher Cesare Cremonini in 1610 in response to Galileo’s reported discovery of the moons of Jupiter. As they were unrecorded by Aristotle, Cremonini objected, they could not possibly exist. Equally dogmatic positions were adopted by ramus and bacon in opposition to Aristotle. Ramus had reportedly argued in Paris in 1536 that everything taught by Aristotle was false. More reasonably, Bacon had warned his contemporaries to apply themselves to "the study of things themselves. Be not for ever the property of one man."

The majority of scholars, however, adopted neither extreme position. For them Aristotle offered a comprehensive account of the universe, together with detailed textbooks on virtually all branches of knowledge. Consequently most scholars worked unthinkingly within the confines of Aristotelianism, and even those wishing to break free often found they could do no more than modify its basic structure. In many areas Aristotelian principles emerged from the Renaissance unscathed. When, for example, Isaac Newton entered Cambridge in 1661 he studied as an undergraduate Aristotelian physics, logic, rhetoric, ethics, and metaphysics. Missing from the list are astronomy and cosmology, the first discplines, under the influence of copernicus, galileo, and kepler, to break away from their classical assumptions.

With regard to the more basic concepts of matter, motion, and change, less progress was apparent. Aristotle had rejected the atomism and the monism of his predecessors and argued that matter was formed from four basic elements: earth, air, fire, and water. While many Renaissance scientists quarrelled with details of this account, none could break away completely. The names of the elements might be changed and the numbers decreased to three, or increased to five or more, but the theory remained in essence Aristotelian. Equally, while all agreed that Aristotle’s account of motion was inadequate, it was less easy to find an acceptable replacement. The problem lay with the motion of projectiles, falling bodies, and the planets. What kept them in motion? Aristotle’s answer in terms of "natural" motion, or the action of the medium, had never proved popular, not even to otherwise committed Aristotelians. No significant advance could be made, however, until the concept of inertia was introduced into physics, and this was a post-Renaissance development. At a more fundamental level Aristotle had insisted that change of all kind must be explained in terms of his four causes: material, efficient, formal, and final. Thus, for Aristotle, a statue would have been caused by the material it was made from, the sculptor who made it (efficient cause), the object it represented (formal cause), and its final cause or purpose. While much of the Aristotelian vocabulary survived the Renaissance, some scholars began to question the value assigned to final causes. "Research into final causes," Bacon asserted, "like a virgin dedicated to God is barren and produces nothing."

Although Bacon’s strictures found wide support among a later generation of physicists, Renaissance biologists remained uncompromisingly Aristotelian. Consequently, Aristotle’s classification of animals on the basis of their modes of reproduction and development remained without serious challenge until the 18th century. In the field of generation, using concepts derived from his metaphysics, Aristotle argued that the female parent contributed the matter of the embryo and the male parent its form. It was precisely this view that William harvey began to consider in the opening chapter of his De generatione animalium (1651).

As a final area of intellectual domination there remains Aristotelian logic. Despite the objections of Ramus and Bacon, the bulk of Renaissance logic textbooks worked exclusively within the parameters set out by Aristotle in the Organon, as indeed did the textbooks of the 17th and 18th centuries. It should, however, be remembered that traditions other than Aristotelianism were present during the Renaissance, and that, in their own way, neoplatonism, skepticism, and atomism exercised a comparable influence.


(384-322 bc) Greek philosopher He was born at Stagira (hence allusions to him as "the Sta-girite") and studied philosophy at Athens under plato for 20 years from 367. After short spells teaching at Assos in the Troad and Mytilene he became (342) tutor to Alexander the Great. In 335 he returned to Athens to found his own philosophical school, the disciples of which were known as Peripatetics on account of the master’s habit of walking to and fro while teaching.

The huge quantity of Aristotle’s surviving works cover a vast range of subjects: logic, physics, biology, psychology, metaphysics, politics, ethics, rhetoric, and poetry. Many of the treatises were known to medieval scholars in the West only through Latin translations of Arabic versions. Nonetheless his works were the basis of the predominant scholastic philosophy, and although there was some reaction against him in the Renaissance, especially in favor of plato, he continued to dominate philosophical and scientific discourse well into the 17th century (see aristotelianism, renaissance). In the 16th century his rediscovered Poetics became the basis of Renaissance literary theory (see criticism, literary), affecting the status and composition of both epic and tragedy.


Both the Greeks and the Romans had represented numbers with letters of their alphabets, a custom that mattered little as long as problems were presented geometrically, and as long as calculations were performed on an abacus. A more sophisticated arithmetic required a more lucid symbolism, which was first provided by the mathematicians of the Renaissance. Hindu numerals entered Europe through Islam. They were picked up by Ger-bert in 10th-century Spain and later used by Leonardo of Pisa in his influential Liber abaci (1202). Consequently, by the time of the Renaissance, there was a growing need to develop appropriate algorithms in the new symbolism for the basic arithmetical operations of multiplication, division, subtraction, addition, exponentiation, and the extraction of roots. The result was a number of elementary textbooks appearing throughout Europe, all designed to convey the secrets of the new arithmetic to a public becoming increasingly concerned with numerical problems arising in commerce. Such works as pacioli’s Somma (1494), Robert Recorde’s Grounde of Artes (1540), and Michael Stifel’s Arithmetica integra (1544) performed this task in France, Italy, England, and Germany respectively. A bewildering variety of methods was presented, sufficiently complex to engender the belief that long division could be performed only by a professional mathematician.

The Renaissance also saw extensions to the concept of number. cardano, for example, in his Ars magna (1545), accepted into mathematics the long-suspected negative and complex numbers. Later in the century decimals were introduced by Simon stevin, and in 1614 John napier successfully introduced the notion of a logarithm. He had not, however, expressed his logarithms in terms of a decimal base. This latter innovation was carried through by Henry briggs who published in 1617 a table of logarithms to the base 10 of the numbers 1 to 1000.

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