(chronosomatically) Contemplating the Navel

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The collapse of the empire in the East tangibly affected the Renaissance in the West. Byzantine émigré scholars, who fled the Turkish conquest of their homeland and headed for Italy, brought Greek manuscripts containing both contemporary knowledge and the works of ancient authors until then unknown in the West. These Greek scholars and the learning they brought provided a perfect complement to the new developments in Latin, and later, Italian humanism. As 1000 years of political, linguistic, and religious duality in the Mediterranean world came to an end, Italy reemerged as Europe's cultural center, and, although the religious schism between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church remains, Renaissance humanism successfully manifested an philosophical union between the Greek east and the Latin west.

By means of their contributions to virtually all spheres of learning--to rhetoric, history, politics, ethics, and metaphysical philosophy, to astronomy, geography, physics, and medicine, and finally to fathers of the church and the Bible itself--Byzantine literati, and the manuscripts they brought with them, provided the inspiration for changing prevailing humanistic and scientific interpretations and bring about new ones. In this way they played a definite, though to be sure not easily measured, part in the very complex and still inadequately understood process of the transformation of Italian, and to a lesser degree, Northern society from medieval values and views to a greater secularity approximating in many ways that of the ancient Greco-Roman world and even our own.
Deno John Geanakoplos, Constantinople and the West: essays on the late Byzantine (Palaeologan) and Italian Renaissance and the Byzantine and Roman churches (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1989), p. 66.




Stephen Lauf © 2017.02.12