Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/596

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the faith that his poetry is allegorical; and in the veiled meanings which underlie it they discover links with Platonic doctrine. Landino's work in these imaginary conversations must be accepted as true to the general tendency and tone of the circle which he knew so well. It should be added that the cult of Plato by the Florentine Academy included certain ceremonial observances. They kept his birthday with a banquet, after which some portion of his works was read and discussed. The anniversary of his death had also its fitting commemoration. His bust was crowned with flowers, and a lamp was burned before it. Such things, which may seem childish now, were outward signs of the strong and fresh reality which the memory of the illustrious ancients had for the men of the Renaissance, the heirs of the Middle Age, who had not wholly broken, even yet, with its feelings and impulses.

Rome, too, had its Academy. This was founded, about 1460, by Julius Pomponius Laetus, an enthusiast for Latin scholarship, in which Valla had been his master. It was the peculiar ambition of Laetus to imitate as closely as possible the manners, occupations, and even amusements, of the ancients. The Academy founded by him devoted itself especially to the study of Latin antiquities. Its members also followed his bent by celebrating the Palilia on the legendary birthday of Rome,—by acting comedies of Plautus,—and generally by raising, among them^ selves, such a phantom as they could of ancient life. It is not altogether surprising that a Pope devoid of humanistic sympathies should have regarded such a society with disapproval. The Roman Academy was temporarily suppressed by Paul II. But it was revived under Sixtus IV, and lived on into the age of Leo X, when it greatly flourished. Among its members at that later period were three of the eminent Latin scholars who became Cardinals,—Bembo, Sadoleto, and Egidio Canisio; also the sparkling historian and biographer Paulus Jovius. It could, claim also that brilliant ornament of Leo's Court, Baldassare Castiglione, the author of the Cortegiano, and himself a mirror of the accomplishments which he describes.

The Academy of Naples differed in stamp both from the Florentine and from the Roman. Alfonso V of Aragon, who made himself master of Naples in 1442, had drawn a number of distinguished scholars to his Court in that city. After his death in 1458 there was no longer a centre at Naples round which such men could gather. Then it was that Jovianus Pontanus, an excellent writer of Latin, and especially of Latin verse, developed an Academy out of what had previously been an informal society of scholarly friends. The distinctive note of the Neapolitan Academy continued to be that which it derived from its origin. It was occupied more especially with the cultivation of style. The activity distinctive of it is represented by a series of Latin versifiers, remarkable for scholarship, for vigour, and also for a neopagan tendency. The Florentine Academy was predominantly philosophic; the Roman was antiquarian; the