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Are You a Renaissance Man (or Woman)?

When one is referred to (fancies themselves) as a Renaissance man (or woman), it usually means that they have enough knowledge and understanding in a wide range of fields of study such that others might request their consultation.

In European history, the Renaissance period is from about the 14th century to the 16th or 17th century, A.D.  During this time, there was a return to ideas derived from the ancient Greco-Roman culture, and an enthusiastic renewal of interests in the arts and in science.  In other words, the people were coming out of the dark.  The historical period before the Renaissance has often been referred to as the Dark Ages.

No doubt the names of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and William Shakespeare are very recognizable. Knowing their achievements and accomplishments, one has no doubt why they were all considered Renaissance men.  But are the names of these men recognizable?  Francesco Petrarch, Giovanni Boccaccio, Francois Rabelais, and Desiderius Erasmus.

  • Francesco Petrarch has been called the Father of the Italian Renaissance and the Father of Humanism (a belief in the greatness of man).  He was the one who originated the concept of a “Dark Age”.
  • Giovanni Boccaccio wrote the first collection of biographies devoted entirely to women.
  • Francois Rabelais has had his writings described as “grotesque humor”.  This quote is attributed to him.  Tell the truth and shame the devil.”
  • Desiderius Erasmus was a scholar who wrote satires that pointed towards the abuses of the Catholic church.  Though they both pointed to aspects of the church in need of reformation, he and Martin Luther didn’t see eye-to-eye either.

These are men who were and are deemed by others to be Renaissance men, back in their day alongside their contemporaries and even in our present times.

Compared to these guys, if someone were to ask you ~ “Are you a Renaissance man (or woman)? ~ how would you answer?

REF:  Fox, Treathyl. “Are You a Renaissance Man?”. Wizzley.com, 10 Aug. 2013.

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  • Question of

    Are you familiar with the Renaissance period in European history?

    • Yes
    • No
  • Question of

    Even though the Renaissance was a cultural movement that began in Italy, the word “renaissance” is French and it means “rebirth”.

    • True
    • False
  • Question of

    The printing press was the invention that marked the beginning of the Renaissance.

    • True
    • False
  • Question of

    Steve Jobs (1955 – 2011) has been described as a Renaissance man. Do you agree with that characterization?

    • Yes
    • No
  • Question of

    Are you a Renaissance man or woman?

    • Yes
    • No
    • Working on it!

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  1. I’ve always wanted to be born during the Renaissance! A fair search of truth and beauty, inspired by the classical (Greco-Roman) era, as you said. ?
    And yes, knowledge was little, yet impressive, and that allowed men to study several subjects, unlike nowadays where universities somehow force you to study just one of the many fields available.
    I’m Italian, therefore I’ve heard of Petrarch and Boccaccio.
    I believe being a Renaissance man/woman is about being curious, open-minded, with lots of interests. I’m definitely like that, but I don’t feel entitled to say my knowledge is so broad. ?

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