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Rodolphus Agricola (Latin : Rudolphus Agricola Phrisius; August 28, 1443, or February 17, 1444 – October 27, 1485) was a pre-Erasmian humanist of the Northern Low Countries, famous for his knowledge of Latin and Greek. He was an educator, musician, builder of church organs, a poet in Latin and the vernacular, a diplomat, a boxer and a Hebrew scholar towards the end of his life.[ citation needed ] Today, he is best known as the author of De inventione dialectica, the father of Northern European humanism and as a zealous anti-scholastic in the late fifteenth century.
Agricola was born in Baflo in the Dutch province of Groningen as the illegitimate son of the cleric and future abbot Hendrik Vries and Zycka Huesman, a rich farmer's daughter.He was originally named Roelof Huesman, or Huisman, his mother's surname. The Latin adjective Phrisius identifies him as a Frisian.
Educated first by the school of St. Maarten in Groningen, Agricola matriculated at the University of Erfurt with his father's assistance and received a BA in 1458. He then studied at Louvain University, receiving an MA in 1465; he was renowned for the purity of his Latin and skill in disputation. He concentrated his studies on Cicero and Quintilian, but also added French and Greek to his ever-growing list of languages during his university years. At the end of his life, he would learn Hebrew to be able to read the Old Testament, especially the Psalms, unadulterated by translation.
In the 1460s Agricola travelled to Italy, where he became associated with humanist masters and statesmen. From circa 1468 until 1475, he studied civil law at the University of Pavia and later went to Ferrara (1475–1479). There, he became the protégé of Prince d'Este of Ferrara, and was a pupil of Theodor Gazaand attended lectures by Battista Guarino. He devoted himself to the study of classical texts and gained fame for the elegance of his Latin style and his knowledge of philosophy. While in Ferrara, Agricola gained formal employment as the organist to the opulent ducal chapel. He held that post until 1479, after which he returned to the North, becoming secretary to the city of Groningen. Here, at the Cistercian Abbey of St Bernard at Aduard, near Groningen, and at 's-Heerenbergh near Emmerich in the south-east, he was at the center of a group of scholars and humanists, with whom he kept up a lively exchange of letters. His correspondents included the musician and choirmaster of Antwerp Jacobus Barbirianus (Barbireau), rector of the Latin School at Deventer Alexander Hegius von Heek and Johannes Reuchlin, the humanist scholar and later student of Hebrew.
In 1470, he taught a deaf child how to communicate orally and in writing; his work, De inventione dialectica, documents this pioneering educational effort.
Once in Germany again, he spent time in Dillingen, where he continued to correspond with humanist friends and colleagues throughout Europe. In correspondence, he primarily advocated for his project to promote the study of classical learning and the Studia humanitatis . Agricola remained an independent scholar, unattached to a university or religious establishment. This independence became a hallmark of humanist scholars. In 1479, Agricola completed his De inventione dialectica (On Dialectical Invention) in Dillingen, which argued for the precise application of loci in scholarly argumentation.
From 1480 to 1484 he held the post of secretary of the city of Groningen.
In 1481, Agricola spent six months in Brussels at the court of Archduke Maximilian (later Maximilian I, the Holy Roman Emperor). Friends attempted to dissuade him from accepting the archduke's patronage as they feared that the archduke's influence would undermine his philosophical ideals. He also declined the offer to become the head of a Latin school at Antwerp.
In 1484, Agricola moved to Heidelberg by invitation of Johann Von Dalberg, the Bishop of Worms. The two men had met in Pavia, and they became close friends in Heidelberg. The bishop was a generous benefactor of learning. At this time Agricola began studying Hebrew, and he is said to have published an original translation of the Psalms.
In 1485, Dalberg was sent[ by whom? ] as an ambassador to Pope Innocent VIII in Rome, with Agricola accompanying him; the latter was struck gravely ill on their journey. He died shortly after their return to Heidelberg and Ermolao Barbaro composed an epitaph for him.
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De inventione dialectica was influential in creating a place for logic in rhetorical studies and was of significance in the education of early humanists. It was a critical and systematic treatment of ideas and concepts related to dialectics.
The significance of De inventione dialectica for the history of argumentation is that it assimilated the art of dialectic to that of rhetoric. Argumentation focused not on truth but on what might be said with reason. Accordingly, Agricola focused on the Topics rather than the Analytics of Aristotle and on Cicero, but also on the writings of historians, poets, and orators. Thus, for Agricola, dialectic was an open field; the art of finding "whatever can be said with any degree of probability on any subject." (Hamilton, David. From Dialectic to Didactic).
Agricola was also important to the deaf community, since he believed that people who are born deaf can express themselves by putting their thoughts into writing. His statement that deaf people can be taught a language is one of the earliest positive statements about deafness on record (Gannon, 1981).
Agricola's De formando studio—his long letter on a private educational program—was printed as a small booklet and influenced pedagogy of the early sixteenth century.
Agricola was also important for his personal influence over others. Erasmus admired Agricola, eulogizing him in "Adagia" and calling him "the first to bring a breath of better literature from Italy." Erasmus claimed him as a father/teacher figure and may have met him through his own schoolmaster Alexander Hegius (most probably one of Agricola's students) at Hegius's School in Deventer. In addition to Hegius, Agricola's students include Conrad Celtis (in Heidelberg).
Erasmus made it his personal mission to ensure that several of Agricola's major works were printed posthumously. Agricola's literary executor was Adolphus Occo, a physician of Augsburg. By about 1530 disciples and followers had gathered the manuscripts left by Agricola, and these were edited by Alardus of Amsterdam.
Renaissance humanism was a revival in the study of classical antiquity, at first in Italy and then spreading across Western Europe in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. During the period, the term humanist referred to teachers and students of the studia humanitatis—meaning the humanities including grammar, rhetoric, history, poetry, and moral philosophy. It was not until the 19th century that this began to be called humanism instead of the original humanities, and later by the retronym Renaissance humanism to distinguish it from later humanist developments. During the Renaissance period most humanists were religious, so their concern was to "purify and renew Christianity", not to do away with it. Their vision was to return ad fontes to the simplicity of the New Testament, bypassing the complexities of medieval theology. Today, by contrast, the term humanism has come to signify "a worldview which denies the existence or relevance of God, or which is committed to a purely secular outlook".
Lorenzo Valla was an Italian Renaissance humanist, rhetorician, educator, scholar, and Catholic priest. He is best known for his historical-critical textual analysis that proved that the Donation of Constantine was a forgery, therefore attacking and undermining the presumption of temporal power claimed by the papacy. Subsequently, he was put on trial before the Catholic Inquisition in 1444; he was saved by the King of Naples, Alfonso V of Aragon.
The Latin school was the grammar school of 14th- to 19th-century Europe, though the latter term was much more common in England. Emphasis was placed, as the name indicates, on learning to use Latin. The education given at Latin schools gave great emphasis to the complicated grammar of the Latin language, initially in its Medieval Latin form. Grammar was the most basic part of the trivium and the Liberal arts — in artistic personifications Grammar's attribute was the birch rod. Latin school prepared students for university, as well as enabling those of middle class status to rise above their station. It was therefore not unusual for children of commoners to attend Latin schools, especially if they were expected to pursue a career within the church. Although Latin schools existed in many parts of Europe in the 14th century and were more open to the laity, prior to that the Church allowed for Latin schools for the sole purpose of training those who would one day become clergymen. Latin schools began to develop to reflect Renaissance humanism around the 1450s. In some countries, but not England, they later lost their popularity as universities and some Catholic orders began to prefer the vernacular.
Renaissance Latin is a name given to the distinctive form of Latin style developed during the European Renaissance of the fourteenth to fifteenth centuries, particularly by the Renaissance humanism movement.
Christian humanism regards humanist principles like universal human dignity, individual freedom, and the importance of happiness as essential and principal or even exclusive components of the teachings of Jesus. Proponents of the term trace the concept to the Renaissance or patristic period, linking their beliefs to the scholarly movement also called 'humanism'.
Alexander Hegius von Heek was a German humanist, so called from his birthplace Heek.
Wessel Harmensz Gansfort was a theologian and early humanist of the northern Low Countries. Many variations of his last name are seen and he is sometimes incorrectly called Johan Wessel.
Renaissance humanism came much later to Germany and Northern Europe in general than to Italy, and when it did, it encountered some resistance from the scholastic theology which reigned at the universities. Humanism may be dated from the invention of the printing press about 1450. Its flourishing period began at the close of the 15th century and lasted only until about 1520, when it was absorbed by the more popular and powerful religious movement, the Reformation, as Italian humanism was superseded by the papal counter-Reformation. Marked features distinguished the new culture north of the Alps from the culture of the Italians. The university and school played a much more important part than in the South according to Catholic historians. The representatives of the new scholarship were teachers; even Erasmus taught in Cambridge and was on intimate terms with the professors at Basel. During the progress of the movement new universities sprang up, from Basel to Rostock. Again, in Germany, there were no princely patrons of arts and learning to be compared in intelligence and munificence to the Renaissance popes and the Medici. Nor was the new culture here exclusive and aristocratic. It sought the general spread of intelligence, and was active in the development of primary and grammar schools. In fact, when the currents of the Italian Renaissance began to set toward the North, a strong, independent, intellectual current was pushing down from the flourishing schools conducted by the Brethren of the Common Life. In the humanistic movement, the German people was far from being a slavish imitator. It received an impulse from the South, but made its own path.
Humanism is a philosophical stance that emphasizes the potential and agency of human beings, individually and socially. It considers human beings as the starting point for serious moral and philosophical inquiry. The meaning of the term humanism has fluctuated according to the successive intellectual movements which have identified with it. Generally, however, humanism refers to a perspective that affirms some notion of human freedom and progress. It views humanity as responsible for the promotion and development of individuals, espouses the equal and inherent dignity of all human beings, and emphasizes a concern for humans in relation to the world.
Dirk Martens was a printer and editor in the County of Flanders. He published over fifty books by Erasmus and the very first edition of Thomas More's Utopia. He was the first to print Greek and Hebrew characters in the Netherlands. In 1856 a statue of Martens was erected on the main square of the town of his birth, Aalst.
Peter Ceffons was a French Cistercian theologian and scholastic philosopher, who became Abbot of Clairvaux. He is considered an early humanist for his style.
Robert Gaguin was a noted French Renaissance humanist and philosopher; he was minister general of the Trinitarian Order.
Celio Calcagnini, also known as Caelius Calcagninus, was an Italian humanist and scientist from Ferrara. His learning as displayed in his collected works is very broad.
Johannes Murmellius was a Dutch teacher and humanist, known for numerous textbooks, and his spreading of humanism, particularly in the Prince-Bishopric of Münster.
Hermann von dem Busche was a German humanist writer, known for his Vallum humanitatis (1518). He was a pupil of Rudolph von Langen. Vallum humanitatis, sive Humaniorum litterarum contra obrectatores vindiciae (1518) was in effect a manifesto for the humanist movement of the time.
Topical logic is the logic of topical argument, a branch of rhetoric developed in the Late Antique period from earlier works, such as Aristotle's Topics and Cicero's Topica. It consists of heuristics for developing arguments, which are in the first place plausible rather than rigorous, from commonplaces. In other words, therefore, it consists of standardized ways of thinking up debating techniques from existing, thought-through positions. The actual practice of topical argument was much developed by Roman lawyers. Cicero took the theory of Aristotle to be an aspect of rhetoric. As such it belongs to inventio in the classic fivefold division of rhetoric.
Diego López de Zúñiga, Latin: Jacobus Lopis Stunica was a Spanish humanist and biblical scholar noted for his controversies with Erasmus and Lefèvre d'Etaples and leadership of the team of editors for the Complutensian Polyglot Bible. He was born around 1470 in Extremadura, to an aristocratic family; his brother Juan de Zúñiga was a diplomat for Charles V of Spain.
Alardus or Alaard of Amsterdam (1491–1544) was a Dutch humanist scholar, known as an editor of Rodolphus Agricola and Erasmus.
Petrus Nannius was a Dutch poet, accomplished Latin scholar and humanist of the 16th century. A contemporary of Desiderius Erasmus, he was born in Alkmaar and was an important figure in the humanism of the time, having provided a foundation with his teaching for the later flowering of humanism in the region.
Cornelius Kempius was a Dutch historian who is known for his work on Friesland.