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Doctors, Ambassadors, Secretaries

Humanism and Professions in Renaissance Italy

In this book, Douglas Biow traces the role that humanists played in the development of professions and professionalism in Renaissance Italy, and vice versa. For instance, humanists were initially quite hostile to medicine, viewing it as poorly adapted to their program of study. They much preferred the secretarial profession, which they made their own throughout the Renaissance and eventually defined in treatises in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.

Examining a wide range of treatises, poems, and other works that humanists wrote both as and about doctors, ambassadors, and secretaries, Biow shows how interactions with these professions forced humanists to make their studies relevant to their own times, uniting theory and practice in a way that strengthened humanism. His detailed analyses of writings by familiar and lesser-known figures, from Petrarch, Machiavelli, and Tasso to Maggi, Fracastoro, and Barbaro, will especially interest students of Renaissance Italy, but also anyone concerned with the rise of professionalism during the early modern period.

266 pages | 2 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2002

History: European History

Literature and Literary Criticism: Romance Languages

Table of Contents

Introduction: Humanism and Professions in Renaissance Italy
1. Petrarch’s Profession and His Laurel
2. Three Reactions to Plague: Marvels and Commonplaces in Medicine and Literature
3. Fracastoro as Poet and Physician: Syphilis, Epic, and the Wonder of Disease
4. Exemplary Work: Two Venetian Humanists Writing on the Resident Ambassador
5. The Importance and Tragedy of Being an Ambassador: The Performance of Francesco Guicciardini
6. Open Secrets: The Place of the Renaissance Secretary
7. The Secretarial Profession among Others: Tasso’s Enabling Analogies

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