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Dante Alighieri – the Medieval father of Humanism

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The spirit of early Humanism

"Now you must cast aside your laziness,"
my master said, "for he who rests on down
or under covers cannot come to fame;
and he who spends his life without renown
leaves such a vestige of himself on earth
as smoke bequeaths to air or foam to water.
Therefore, get up; defeat your breathlessness
with spirit that can win all battles if
the body's heaviness does not deter it.
A longer ladder still is to be climbed;
it's not enough to have left them behind;
if you have understood, now profit from it."

― Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy


In 2021, we mark seven hundred years since the loss of one of the symbols of literature and Humanism, and arguably the greatest and most influential poet of the Western world - Dante Alighieri (c. 1265 -1321). This year's edition of our conference SWS Florence will present to you the Special Scientific Session: Dante Alighieri – the Medieval father of Humanism. We invite you to join us in our journey through the Magical World of the Italian Renaissance!


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What is Humanism?

Image credit:  Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man (c. 1490) shows the correlations of ideal human body proportions with geometry described by the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius in his De Architectura. Vitruvius described the human figure as being like the principal source of proportion among the Classical orders of architecture. Via Wikipedia

The idea of Humanism

The words humanism, humanist, humane are so widely present and taken for granted in both scholarly and everyday talk that whenever someone is trying to explain what these actually mean, he should recount one very old and long tale. A tale of great and noble ideas that many times revolutionized the way we perceive our human world and considerably increased the extent to which we fathom the depths of the Universe within and without us. But what exactly is humanism? Where does that idea come from? How did it affect us throughout human history and what is humanism today?

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On this date, 543 years ago...

Portrait by Hans Holbein, the younger (1527)

Sir Thomas More was born on February 7, 1478

Sir Thomas More (born February 7, 1478, London, England—died July 6, 1535, London) is the most renowned English Humanist of the Renaissance epoch. Aside from being famous for his literary work - Utopia, he was an influential statesman, chancellor of England, thinker, and a great representative of Christian rhetoric. Eventually, Thomas Moore was tragically sentenced to death and beheaded for repudiating the oath, which had to admit King Henry VIII as the head of the Church of England. On May 19, 1935, he is canonized as a saint by the Roman Catholic Church.


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