What did the “Renaissance” revive?
The term “Renaissance” was first coined by Italian art historian Giorgio Vasari in the preface to his “Who’s Who in Italian Art Gardens” (also translated as “Biographies of the Greatest Painters, Sculptors, and Architects”). In 1756 Voltaire’s “On the Fashions and Spirits of All Nations”, the Renaissance was formally regarded as a new cultural movement, and it was the first time to give a profound explanation of the Renaissance.
The word is French Renaissance, meaning regeneration, renaissance, some English translation is “the Renaissance of the Arts”, Chinese translation is “Renaissance”. But everyone should note that what we generally call “Renaissance” is different from the original meaning of the word: its original meaning is regeneration, and we translate it as Renaissance, which narrows its meaning to a certain extent. refers to the range. Because the scope of revival is very broad, it can include political, economic, cultural and many other aspects of revival. There has always been some controversy in the academic circle about the meaning of this term. Some people regard it as an era. He said: “When I look ahead and look back, I am a person standing between two worlds.” Some people regard the Renaissance as a movement about science, art, and literature.
It can be seen from this that if we hold the first point of view, we think that the “Renaissance” refers to an era, which is more in line with the original meaning of the word Renaissance and more comprehensive. If we hold the second point of view, that is to say that it is only a movement about science, art and literature, then to a certain extent we have closely linked the Renaissance with the humanist literary trend of thought, and we can even say that the two However, to a certain extent, it ignores the “regeneration” of the Renaissance in addition to culture and art, such as economy, etc., and only regards these as a premise or background of the Renaissance. But what we cannot ignore is that the “renaissance” of the Renaissance was guided by literature and art, and achieved brilliant achievements in these areas. It can be said that literature and art took the lead in the “renaissance” atmosphere at that time. It can be said that the Renaissance was a cultural movement with the revival of literature and art as the main body.
According to the traditional view, “it is generally believed that the Renaissance began in Italy in the late fourteenth century and continued to develop in Western Europe in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries”. There has been a lot of controversy about this period of history. Some people even deny that there is such a historical stage as the Renaissance. In fact, this is irrelevant. The so-called historical stage is nothing but an external thing imposed on history by historians. However, it is undeniable that there was indeed such a period in the history of Western culture, which ordinary historians describe as “the modern world born from the ashes of the dark ages, or as a period of discovery of the world, of human beings and of living in , thought, religion, art and other aspects are not restricted and the era of free development”. The so-called revival mainly refers to the revival of ancient culture, that is, ancient Greek and Roman culture. At that time, some representatives of the emerging bourgeoisie played the banner of “returning to Greece”, claiming to revive the submerged ancient culture and “regenerate” it. This is how the Renaissance got its name. In fact, real revival is impossible. The so-called revival is just an attempt by the emerging bourgeoisie to use ancient culture as an anti-feudal and anti-church ideological weapon to destroy the medieval theocracy, try to eliminate the shackles of Christian thought, and establish a new The human-centered bourgeois humanist ideology, which was later called “humanism”. But in this way, the objective result is that the “Renaissance”, the historical peak of literature and art, is directly linked to the classical era, thus spanning or even ignoring the long history of nearly a thousand years before the Middle Ages before the Renaissance. In fact, people in the Middle Ages did not deny classical culture. At this point, it can be said that the Middle Ages and the Renaissance are connected. The difference is that when the Renaissance treated classical culture and literature, it more clearly reflected a kind of To amend the attitude is to make a relatively objective and fair evaluation of the classical culture and to absorb it discriminately.
Some people once commented on Boccaccio’s “Decameron”, an outstanding writer in the early Renaissance, thinking that this work “is a wonderful flower blooming on the garbage heap of the Middle Ages, and it is a representative work of free thought in the early stage of Renaissance realism. It can also be said to be the first resource-sharing bourgeois realist work in Europe”. In any case, it’s hard to believe that exotic flowers and plants can grow on trash. In fact, the Middle Ages provided rich nutrition for the Renaissance, and also provided a huge space for the possibility of development. Because we cannot deny that, after all, the Renaissance developed on the basis of the Middle Ages. These are historically proven. As early as the 8th century AD, when Charlemagne was on the throne, he issued a series of policies to encourage literature and art, encouraging people to excavate, organize, process, and conduct research on ancient Greek and Roman culture. Concepts are inevitably incorporated into it. This is what historians call the “Carolingian Renaissance”. By the 12th century AD, another so-called “Renaissance”-style movement broke out. American historian Haskins named it the “Twelfth Century Renaissance”. “The Renaissance had its external reasons as well as its internal Christian reasons. The external reason was to establish an ideological and cultural system for the consolidation and development of the feudal system. The internal reason was that within Christianity there was a wave of reinterpretation of Christian doctrine, construction of The strong enthusiasm of Christianity to interpret the new system. In this reinterpretation of Christian doctrine, Christian culture and various other cultural elements are organically integrated, and people have shifted from focusing on ‘souls saved by Christ’ to ‘the unity of Christ’s salvation and man’s own salvation’ It can be seen that people at that time have begun to pay attention to the subjectivity of man. The status of man has been gradually highlighted from the aura of God.”
In view of this, we can say that there is no difference between the Renaissance and the classical culture, nor There has never been an unbridgeable chasm. The two “Renaissances” that took place in the Middle Ages have fully proved that: the Renaissance sages who wore the cloak of classical culture, carried the banner of ancient Greece and Rome, and chanted the slogan “Go back to Greece”, were actually in the Middle Ages. direct beneficiaries, and are deeply affected by them.
In addition to the above reasons, there are some specific reasons why the Renaissance occurred in Italy in the fourteenth century. First, in Italy at that time, the germ of capitalism appeared earlier. Industrial and commercial development. The emerging bourgeoisie must oppose feudal rule. The Crusades made Italy a trading center, cities rose, and capitalist handicrafts developed. City-states, with numerous universities, are conducive to the development of new ideas. It is the birthplace of Roman classical culture and the center of the exchange of Eastern and Western civilizations. Secondly, the introduction of China’s four great inventions promoted the rise and development of the Western European Renaissance. Marx said: “Gunpowder, the compass, the printing press – these are the three great inventions that heralded the coming of bourgeois society. For gunpowder blew the knight class to pieces, the compass opened the world market and established colonies, while printing became The tool of Protestantism, and, in general, the means of scientific revival, became the most powerful impetus for the creation of the necessary prerequisites for spiritual development.” It is also worth mentioning that, at that time, the Pope was not only outside the cultural In addition to the trend, it has become an active participant, supporter, and even leader of the Renaissance. There have been multiple Renaissance popes – no doubt a huge driving force in the Renaissance. The reason why the Pope appeared here is mainly related to the decline of the clergy and the secularization of the Pope. But objectively, it has positive significance to the development of literature and art at that time and to the development of the Renaissance movement.
Although under the banner of classical culture, it has inherited many cultural factors of the Middle Ages, but it is a cultural movement in the new era. The ideology advocated by the leaders of the Renaissance movement is very different from the tradition. If the main body of traditional, especially medieval thought is about “God”, then the main body of Renaissance thought is about “God”. people”. It can be said that it was the era when a person was discovered. Therefore, the core of thought in this period is called humanism, and the status of man surpassed the status of God for the first time in Western history. Dante, the pioneer of the Renaissance, considered by Engels to be the last poet of the Middle Ages and at the same time the first poet of the new age, once said: “The nobility of man, in its many fruits, is It surpasses the nobility of angels.” Dante’s words represented people’s cognition of the relationship between God and man at that time. Man becomes an independent existence instead of being a servant of God, and his rights and dignity are naturally affirmed. But it is still Dante, his masterpiece “The Divine Comedy” constructs a world where humanism and Christianity are mixed. From the perspective of the conception of the work, the poet hints to people through the form of dreams, whether it is for individuals or for the whole human being, only after the baptism of hardships and the purification and cleansing of the soul can they move towards new life and achieve Incomparably bright and perfect and beautiful beyond the realm. To complete this process, people must have reason and belief. From this, we can easily see that the work attaches great importance to and cares about people, and its ideological core contains elements of humanistic thought. He was not completely free from the influence of religion. As a devout Christian, he does not completely oppose Christianity, but has deep faith. This determines the style and style of the work to a certain extent: hell, purgatory and heaven are undoubtedly religious concepts, and the author uses this to structure the whole book; from the process of people’s salvation in the work, we can see that the poet clearly agrees with Christianity’s “original sin” The theory of “On” and “Soul Salvation” believed that as long as people restrained their lusts and practiced hard, they could reach the realm of heaven; on the contrary, if they indulged their lusts and did not repent during their lifetime, they would inevitably be exiled into the darkness of hell. It can be seen from this that deep-rooted religious feelings exist in Dante’s thought, and the so-called humanistic thought is only a ray of light in this profound background. Although this ray of light has infinite vitality, and history has proved that it eventually shines Light up the dark road ahead for mankind.
It can be seen from this that the problem is far from being as simple as imagined. Humanists just broke the original situation that belief dominated the world, and placed human reason and belief on the scale of human spirit. In the end, reason seems to have won the victory. But this does not mean that belief has lost its place, it still occupies an important element in the human spiritual world. A fact is that the representatives of the humanists who we thought supported the rational spirit of human beings and shouted about human nature did not fundamentally deny God and deny God. This situation was particularly evident in the early stages of the Renaissance. Petrarch, the father of humanism, publicly declared: “When this mind thinks or speaks of religion, that is, of the highest truth, true happiness, and eternal salvation of the soul, I am certainly not a Westerner. Ceroticists or Platonists, but Christians.” In his view, only Christ is the absolute value, and Christianity is the highest truth: “In order to truly philosophize, we must first love and worship Christ.” And Boccaccio, the writer who ridiculed, ridiculed and criticized Christianity in his “Decameron”, also believed that God is the source of all goodness. In his “Decameron”, he wrote such a story, a Jew named Yang Nuo became a noble and pious good man after he converted to Catholicism and learned the teachings of Catholicism. This story, to a certain extent, illustrates Boccaccio’s attitude towards Christianity.
It can be seen from this that the Renaissance was a time when all kinds of thoughts converged, and there might even exist two or more seemingly completely incompatible ideological concepts even in the same person. But perhaps because of its complexity, the Renaissance gives people a sense of mystery and has the charm of attracting people’s permanent attention. It may be difficult for us to give an accurate answer to what the Renaissance finally revived, but one thing is certain, that is, the Renaissance made the tradition fully respected (both subjectively and objectively), and The combined force of tradition and change is the eternal source of power for history to move forward.