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4. What were the chief characteristics of Renaissance art? How does it compare with the artwork of the Middle Ages and Ancient Greece and Rome? Which is more similar? Why?

need a citation from this book

Western Civilization: A Brief History, Vol. I: to 1715, Jackson Spielvogel, 9th ed.

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The six characteristics of civilization are 1)Focus on urban areas for political, economic, social, cultural and religious development. 2) Distinct religious structure. 3) Political and military structure. 4) Social structure based on economic power 5)Writing and record keeping and 6) artistic and intellectual activity.(Spielvogel 6).

During the renaissance there was a definite focus on urban areas with ties to economic development, Florence for example was the city in Italy where banking was the prominent business. Thanks to the Medici family they held a monopoly of banking as well as other types of business (Spielvogel 276). Cultural development was a main staple within the renaissance, the “rebirth” of society. “The renaissance was an age of recovery” (Spielvogel 274). A new way of politics was introduced during this time “To survive the Italian states began to send resident diplomatic agents to each other to ferret out useful information” (Spielvogel 280). That was the beginning of ambassadors, they helped keep peace within the region. There was a definite religious structure at the time, There was a disgust of the religious structure though. “Wyclif alleged that there was no basis in scripture for papal claims of temporal authority and advocated that the popes be stripped of authority” (Spielvogel 296). After the great schism the church had a rocky time during the renaissance, there were very slow if not failed reforms at the time to try keep power, In the end they had power but no one would recognize it as a power over kingdoms. The political system was thriving though new was of pushing policy thanks to Machiavelli. His idea of the ends justify the means was a new way to think in order to push against European empires. “The small Italian states were no match for Europe large monarchical states” (Spielvogel 280). Now where the renaissance shined its greatest was with Writing, and with art and intellectual activity, there was no match. There was a strong push to study past and learn from the mistakes as well as make new schools of thought like civic humanism. ” Humanists eagerly pursued the works of Plato as well as Greek poets, dramatists, historians and orators.”(Spielvogel 283). Using the old ways of thinking and making them modern helped push scientific discovery and learning to whole new levels. Then the art, one of the most prominent features of the renaissance, “Renaissance artists considered the imitation of nature their primary goal” (Spielvogel 287). Using nature to sculpt their art was able to have “artistic geniuses” such as Da vinci, Michelangelo and Raphael. They were masters of their craft, the time they took to get the most realism in their art was unmatched. because they were so above the rest artists had a new status in the world, before “Artists were still largely viewed as artisans[…] a transformation in the position had occurred” (Spielvogel 290).


Humanism was a renaissance cultural movement which was based on the study of classical works of Greece and Rome. “Humanists examined the studia humanitatis (‘the studies of humanity’)– grammar, rhetoric, poetry, moral philosophy or ethics, and history– all based on the writings of ancient Greek and Roman authors” (Spielvogel 281). This movement effected philosophy by finding interest in old Latin manuscripts written by Cicero (prose) and Virgil (poetry). Petrarch was considered the leader of Humanism and he put an emphasis on these philosophical writers and use them to expand the humanist thought. It also tended to make philosophy connect to religion and continue to spread it throughout. Education blossomed through the teachings of humanism; it put an emphasis on the importance of education opened schools based on these philosophical thoughts and started Liberal Studies. These were lessons for life and to make a complete citizen, rather than a great learner. We see many of these ideas through classes today- through my own personal experience, I am in one philosophy class right now learning of many different philosophical ideas and connecting them to society. Through these readings and thoughts we are able to see why humans act they way they do and we learn many different lessons on society and how we interact with one another.

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