The Renaissance began in Italy. While it only a affected a small amount of the population, the “rebirth” of classical culture is revered today. The general idea of the renaissance is that in Ancient Greek and Roman times we were enlightened, and then lost the light in the “dark” ages, and then became enlightened again in the rebirth of classical culture. Setting: A stage with comfortable chairs, Leonardo da Vinci sitting in one chair, the host in the other.
Host: Welcome to Talk Renaissance Live, I’m here with Leonardo da Vinci, the very definition of a “Renaissance man”. So tell the audience about yourself Leo. Can I call you Leo?
Leo: Um sure. Well honestly I don’t know why people like me so much, I’m a terrible procrastinator. And while I’ve had a few successful paintings, a lot of my works were more of failed experiments.
Host: That is still better than most of the population. And your scientific journals still have people wondering today. You had ideas, sometimes even working ideas for things that weren’t even conceived for most of the population until this last century. What was it like working for a commission?
Leo: It was ok, once I had plenty of apprentices. Apprentices meant I could spend more time on enquiries of the scientific nature.
Host: So why was the Mona Lisa smiling the way she was?
Leo: Well now that’s something I swore I would never tell.
Host: You’re no fun, and I was wondering. Why didn’t you publish and of the scientific advances you made?
Leo: Well it was a different world back then. I had more respect then most people, but if I’d tried to publish my scientific thoughts then I would have been laughed out of the building. Or killed.
Host: You mentioned having apprentices later in your career, how was it like being one yourself? And who were you an apprentice for?
Leo: Well when I was 14 I apprenticed to the man known as Verrocchio. He taught me many things, both in theoretical and practical fields. Even after I qualified as a master artist I continued to collaborate with him, because he was a fine man.
Host: That’s our time, when we come back from the break I’ll be sitting here with Johann Gutenberg.
Host: And we’re back, sitting with me is Johann Gutenberg. You may not know who he is, but he was essential to both the Renaissance and what followed.
Host: How about you explain to the audience about your important contributions?
Johann: I brought the printing to Europe.
Host: Yes, could you explain how?
Johann: Was able to make a printing system that could mass produce books, and have it be economically viable.
Host: And was it?
Johann: Well it was for everyone except me really. I ended up with an enormous debt and then was sued for “misuse of funds”.
Host: That’s unfortunate, did you win the court case?
Johann: Of course not, and he had control of my bible printing press, and half of all bibles printed.
Host: And could you explain why the printing press was important?
Johann: As I understand it, it meant that books and news traveled to more people, and more quickly. It helped the Renaissance, and later facilitated the Scientific revolution.
Host: Wow that was an informative interview, but now we have to go to commercial break. When we come back I will be talking with our final guest.
Host: And we’re back! Now as you know with the Renaissance came the appearance of humanism. We have the father of humanism himself with us today, Francesco Petrarca!
Host: As the father of humanism, could you explain to the audience exactly what humanism is?
Petrarca: Humanism is a response to the clinical scholasticism. Humanists such as myself want to create a society where are all citizens are capable of engaging civic life, being eloquent of speech and pen.
Host: I see, what is scholasticism?
Petrarca: It’s something that seems to be prevalent in society today, preparing people to be “good” jobs such as doctors or lawyers. It emphasizes learning minor and unimportant details for careers that relatively few will partake in.
Host: Asides from being the Father of Humanism what else have you done?
Petrarca: I’m also a bit of a poet. And I came up with the concept of the Dark Ages, although that seems to have gone out of style as of late.
Host: Well the thought as of late is that calling it the Dark Ages is oversimplifying. It portrays the idea that humanity was briefly enlightened, and then lost it’s way, and then was enlightened again-
Petrarca: Exactly! That’s exactly the point I’m trying to make.
Host: Well it doesn’t agree with what modern historians generally think. They’ve been trying to make an effort to be less Eurocentric, and to try to understand concepts of the past without changing the facts to suite our ideas of what should have happened.