Innovation and Exploration, 1453 - 1533

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Innovation and Exploration, 1453 - 1533

Post by Admin on Wed Oct 14, 2015 3:48 am

1454 or 1455- First European book printed. It was the Gutenberg Bible. Ability to print books mechanically meant that books could circulate easier. Humanistic ideas could spread faster. In the German town of Mainz, Johann Gutenberg, using metal type in a screw-type printing press, prints the “Gutenberg” Bible. His printing press is a step up from screw presses used in agriculture. He was the first European to use type-setting, beginning around 1439. Printing was to increasing the circulation of literature; stimulate a rise in literacy, knowledge and science. It did for knowledge what the invention of coinage did for wealth: making it portable, easier to use and disseminate. Johannes Gutenberg was the son of a goldsmith, who made coins for the bishop of that German city. The pages of the first printed books- and later newspapers, leaflets, and pamphlets – were stamped with ink spread on rows of movable type (lead or cast-iron letter forms and punctuation marks) slotted into frames to form lines of text. Once a set page was ready, a press could make hundreds of copies in a matter of hours. Afterward the type could be reused. A major stimulus for this invention was the more widespread availability of paper, a trend that had begun in the late thirteenth century. Parchment, northern Europe’s chief writing material since the advent of the codex, was extremely expensive to manufacture and required special training on the part of those who used it – one reason why writing remained a specialized skill for much of the Middle Ages, while the ability to read was common. Paper, made from rags turned into pulp by mills, was both cheaper and far easier to use; accordingly, books became cheaper and written communication became easier and more widespread. Growing levels of literacy led to a growing demand for books, which led to experimentation with different methods of book production – and to Gutenberg’s breakthrough of the 1450s. Printing made the costs of books affordable and revolutionized the spread of information. The wide spread of printing shops and printed works intermingled with the rest of the major events of the period, such as the development of the arts and sciences (Renaissance) and the discovery of the New World. The widespread availability of reading materials even helped to standardize national languages, by enabling governments to promote one official printed dialect over others.
By the time the Ottoman conquest of Constantinople was complete, just a year before Gutenberg’s workshop began to produce pages of the Bible, hundreds of refugees from the eastern Roman Empire migrated to Italy. Many carried with them precious manuscripts of Greek texts that had long been unavailable in Western Europe: the epics of Homer, the major surviving works of Athenian dramatists, the dialogues of Plato. Due to the invention of print, printers in Venice and other European cities rushed to produce cheap editions of these texts as well as Greek grammars and glossaries that could facilitate reading them.
Within a few decades, so many men were engaged in the study of Plato that an informal “Platonic Academy” had formed in Florence. There, the work of intellectuals like Marsilio Ficino (He was a priest, a doctor and musician, but is best known for his work as a translator of classic works, author and philosopher) and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (most celebrated for the event of 1486, when at the age of 23, he wrote the famous Oration on the Dignity of Man which has been called the "Manifesto of the Renaissance") was fostered by the patronage of the wealthy Cosimo de’ Medici.

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Re: Innovation and Exploration, 1453 - 1533

Post by Admin on Wed Oct 14, 2015 3:50 am



Marsilio Ficino

Ficino is known for being the reviver of Neoplatonism, the first to translate Plato’s works into Latin, and the leader of the Platonic Academy Based on his reading of Plato, Ficino’s philosophy moved away from ethics and civic life that had been such a feature of earlier humanist thought. He taught instead that the individual should look primarily to the salvation of his immortal soul, to free it from its “always miserable” mortal body: a very Platonic idea that was also compatible with much late- medieval Christian piety. Ficino was particularly fond of astrology, writing about the connection between the microcosms and macrocosms, a concept he shared with the famous Renaissance physician Paracelsus. In his “Three books on life” Ficino talks about the connection between health (the human body) and the cosmos and other such astrological and alchemical concepts. Thus Ficino came under the suspicion of heresy. In 1489 he was accused of magic before Pope Innocent VIII and needed strong defense to preserve him from the condemnation of the Church. Ficino introduced the concept of “platonic love” in the Western world, writing numerous love letters in Latin to a member of his Academy, Giovanni Cavalcanti. Indeed, his biographers find it impossible to disprove Ficino’s homosexuality. While praising love for the same sex, however, he condemns sodomy in his Convivium. Marsilio Ficino died in 1499, at the age of 65.

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