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The vital contribution of Renaissance philosopher and writer Sperone Speroni on vernacular Aristotelianism

An EU initiative explored the influence of Sperone Speroni, a 16th century Italian Renaissance philosopher and scholar who was instrumental in promoting the study of Aristotle’s writings in the vernacular.
The vital contribution of Renaissance philosopher and writer Sperone Speroni on vernacular Aristotelianism
In addition to Italy, Speroni exercised remarkable influence in France, too. This was evident from contacts with numerous important cultural figures, including Pierre de Ronsard and Joachim du Bellay. However, Speroni remains a largely neglected figure, despite being an outstanding case study on the diffusion of the vernacular in Renaissance Italy.

The EU-funded A-SPERONI (Sperone Speroni and his legacy (1508-1588). Literature, philosophy and the vernacular) project investigated Speroni’s attitudes towards contemporary institutions and intellectual currents, and the significance of his contributions in France and Italy.

Project partners reconstructed Speroni’s intellectual biography through a close reading of two of his works. They analysed his dialogues and discourses, and how they relate to contemporary academic discussions. Both manuscript and printed materials were considered. Several sections of the 1542 and 1590 editions of ‘Dialogues’ were also compared.

Researchers examined Speroni’s influence in Italy by comparing two of his dialogues with one of Alessandro Piccolomini’s Aristotelian works from 1542. Lastly, they looked at his legacy in Renaissance France.

Results shed light on Speroni’s ideas about language and translation, and recognised his important role in the tradition of vernacular Aristotelianism. Speroni’s competence in and deep knowledge of both philosophy and literature was demonstrated, as was his original use of the dialogue form.

Other findings revealed how Speroni turned vernacular dialogue into a tool suitable for celebrating the power of rhetoric, and identified his position within ‘Dialogues’. They also identified Speroni’s contribution to the 16th century debate on language issues, and acknowledged his intellectual stature and influence in Renaissance Italy and in France.

A-SPERONI successfully showed that Speroni is worthy of further study not only for Italian and French language and literature scholars, but also for the much broader community of intellectual historians interested in the history of Renaissance philosophy and cultural institutions. The project also laid the groundwork for introducing Speroni abroad in textbooks and teaching programmes on the history of Italian language and literature.

Related information

Keywords

Sperone Speroni, vernacular Aristotelianism, A-SPERONI, literature, philosophy
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