Birth of Philology (The)

Guillaume Budé and lady Philology writing the Institution of a Christian prince.


The first generations of humanists wanted to bring back to life classical Latin culture and literature. They were looking for manuscripts of rare or forgotten texts, and translated the rediscovered legacy of classical Greek literature. Humanist pioneers such as Petrarch, Salutati and Poggio demonstrated a specific interest in the recuperation of Cicero, whose Latin remained a model for centuries to come. Thanks to the invention of the printing press, the philological attitude of Italian humanism spread all over Europe. In the sixteenth century the epicentre of the philological movement shifted from Italy to the Low Countries, featuring prominent philologists such as Erasmus and Lipsius. Their works were a key factor in the shaping of the new humanist culture of the European elite and in the Reformation.