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Idols of History: High Renaissance Italy
Jason Goetz, author
Ideas shape men, and men make history. Built on this premise, the Idols of History series explores modern European history through the lens of the Great Books. These volumes, each with a foreword from leading academic executives, explore both primary and secondary source classics about each era from the Italian High Renaissance to the Cold War. This volume, the first in the series, explores the Italian High Renaissance as the product of the interplay between Lucretian realism, pervading Italy after the rediscovery of De rerum natura by Poggio Bracciolini in 1417, and Platonic idealism, brought into Florence by Byzantine refugees after the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and spread by the creation of the Medici Academy shortly thereafter. It explores all of the major political figures, presents multiple perspectives on most of them, and shows how the artistic and intellectual masterpieces of the era can be categorized. This volume explores the following primary source classics in context: Poggio Braciolini's Facetia, Lorenzo Valla's Donation of Constantine, Luca Pacioli's Rules for Double-Entry Bookkeeping, Pico della Mirandola's Oration on the Dignity of Man, Machiavelli's The Prince and Discourses on Livy, Baldassare Castiglione's Book of the Courtier, and Benvenuto Cellini's Autobiography. It also explores the following secondary source classics: Will Durant's The Renaissance, Jakob Burckhardt's Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, Macaulay's essay on Machiavelli, and the 68th chapter of Edward Gibbon's History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. The foreword to the volume was written by Andrew S. Rosen, CEO and Chairman of Kaplan, Inc.