The Renaissance Was Not THAT Greek

Samuel Lee Wolff, The Greek Gift to Civilization:

“The literature of the Renaissance, both in and out of Italy, is four-fifths of it Latinistic — Virgilian, Ciceronian, Senecan, occasionally Horatian, very heavily Ovidian. It springs not immediately, often not mediately, from Homer, Demosthenes, Pindar, Aeschylus, Sophocles, or even Euripides. The other fifth, which does draw nourishment from Greek literature, draws it from the Greek literature, not of the golden, but of the silver and the pinch-beck ages. Boccaccio, Professor Mahaffy points out, is indebted to Greek prose fiction ; but what he does not point out is that Boccaccio ‘s debt runs mostly to very late Byzantine romances now lost. Lyly draws from Plutarch On Education. Sannazaro breaks from the Virgilian pastoral tradition to return to Theocritus. Tasso’s Aminta, as is well known, gets what is probably its most famous passage from the late prose romance of Achilles Tatius. As is not so well known, the Jerusalem Delivered, too, professedly a restoration of the classical — that is, the Virgilian — epic, in reprobation of the composite romance-epic of Pulci, Boiardo, and Ariosto, is itself full of the conceits of late Greek rhetoric. The Pastor Fido is based upon a story in Pausanias. It seems well within the truth to say that where Renaissance literature is Greek at all, it is almost certain to be in the Alexandrianized, Romanized, Byzantinized, and Orientalized vein that we call Greek only because we have no better name for it.”

Image result for renaissance greek chrysoloras

Sorry, Chrysoloras!

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