Leonardo Bruni (1370-1444), the leading civic humanist of the Italian Renaissance, served as apostolic secretary to four popes (1405-1414) and chancellor of Florence (1427-1444). He was famous in his day as a translator, orator, and historian, and was the best-selling author of the fifteenth century. Bruni's History of the Florentine People in twelve books is generally considered the first modern work of history, and was widely imitated by humanist historians for two centuries after its official publication by the Florentine Signoria in 1442. This edition makes it available for the first time in English translation.
Bruni, in trying to demonstrate that Florence could trace its legitimate republican tradition back to deep antiquity, wrote a history of his city on the model of the ancient history of Rome by Livy. As he did so, he read Livy's eloquent, stagy book in a very imaginative, critical way. From the ancient historian's idealized account of virtuous Romans, Bruni reconstructed the virtuous and powerful world of their enemies, the Etruscans--from whom, he claimed, the modern Tuscans were descended. In Bruni's historical imagination, Livy's stories of Horatius, heroically defending the bridge across the Tiber, and Mucius Scaevola, thrusting his hand into the fire to show his contempt for death, metamorphosed into instances of Roman weakness, superstition and dishonesty.
The Loeb Classical Library...has been of incalculable benefit to generations of scholars...It seems certain that the I Tatti Renaissance Library will serve a similar purpose for Renaissance Latin texts, and that, in addition to its obvious academic value, it will facilitate a broadening base of participation in Renaissance Studies...These books are to be lauded not only for their principles of inclusivity and accessibility, and for their rigorous scholarship, but also for their look and feel. Everything about them is attractive: the blue of their dust jackets and cloth covers, the restrained and elegant design, the clarity of the typesetting, the quality of the paper, and not least the sensible price. This is a new set of texts well worth collecting.
An aristocratic devotion to our culture continues to manifest itself even today in the most prestigious centers of study and thought. One has merely to look at the very recent (begun in 2001), rigorous and elegant humanistic series of Harvard University, with the original Latin text, English translation, introduction and notes.
- 608 pages
- 5-1/4 x 8 inches
- Harvard University Press
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