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Petrarch

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Majir
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« on: December 09, 2010, 01:18:15 pm »

The idea of a Dark Age originated with Petrarch in the 1330s.[4][5] Writing of those who had come before him, he said: "Amidst the errors there shone forth men of genius; no less keen were their eyes, although they were surrounded by darkness and dense gloom".[12] Christian writers, including Petrarch himself,[4] had long used traditional metaphors of "light versus darkness" to describe "good versus evil". Petrarch was the first to co-opt the metaphor and give it secular meaning by reversing its application. Classical Antiquity, so long considered the "dark" age for its lack of Christianity, was now seen by Petrarch as the age of "light" because of its cultural achievements, while Petrarch's time, allegedly lacking such cultural achievements, was seen as the age of darkness.[4]

As an Italian, Petrarch saw the Roman Empire and the classical period as expressions of Italian greatness.[4] He spent much of his time travelling through Europe rediscovering and republishing classic Latin and Greek texts. He wanted to restore the classical Latin language to its former purity. Humanists saw the preceding 900-year period as a time of stagnation. They saw history unfolding, not along the religious outline of Saint Augustine's Six Ages of the World, but in cultural (or secular) terms through the progressive developments of classical ideals, literature, and art.

Petrarch wrote that history had had two periods: the classic period of the Greeks and Romans, followed by a time of darkness, in which he saw himself as still living. In around 1343, in the conclusion to his epic Africa, he wrote: "My fate is to live among varied and confusing storms. But for you perhaps, if as I hope and wish you will live long after me, there will follow a better age. This sleep of forgetfulness will not last for ever. When the darkness has been dispersed, our descendants can come again in the former pure radiance."[13] In the 15th century, historians Leonardo Bruni and Flavio Biondo developed a three tier outline of history. They used Petrarch's two ages, plus a modern, "better age", which they believed the world had entered. The term "Middle Ages," in Latin media tempestas (1469) or medium aevum (1604), was later used to describe the period of supposed decline.[14]

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