Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Ad Fontes and Petrarch: H & P Forever

Well, I think that it is abundantly clear who Petrarch's favorite classical author is.  Homer, the father of Western literature, is certainly an important figure to know about and to study.  Personally I have read his Odyssey and his Iliad and I find that he is a very talented and proficient story teller.  Though I am less familiar with the works of Cicero, the passion that Petrarch feels about his writings is unmistakable.

Petrarch laments that the people of his day and age are too caught up in the world, caught up in making money and gaining fleeting fame, to appreciate the masterpieces of the past.  He also seems to indicate that it is through his own study of Homer and Cicero that he has been able to write things worthy of imitation, and so one can see the buddings of the idea of Ad Fontes in the Renaissance.  Because his own creativity is fed by the creativity of classical authors, the implication is that any writer or poet or artist can be inspired if they would only return to the past, to the sources of their initial desires.

I believe that what we decide to make our life's work is largely determined by the works of others that we have experienced in our lives.  We are inspired by the art that we see or the music we hear to become artists and musicians.  Art (and by extension, literature) does not spring fully formed from a vacuum like Athena of old; rather, it is created by the previous generations, just as the Gods were influenced and shaped by the Titans in Greek mythology.  Perhaps I could spark my own cultural Renaissance even more by copying and imitating the works of classical authors like Homer and more contemporary ones such as Shakespeare.

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