How did people during the Renaissance view the ideas of ancient classical civilizations, like Greece and Rome?  

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During the Renaissance, there was a resurgence of interest in Greek and Roman civilizations. Throughout the Middle Ages most of the teaching and learning was church-centered. At the time of the Renaissance, the church had started to lose its hold on people’s thoughts and actions.

The invention of the printing press made books more widely available. In addition, the population was becoming wealthier and could afford these books. These readers from the upper classes and nobility wanted to learn about history, math, finance, business, science, and philosophy outside the church’s teachings. They turned to the knowledge of the ancient Greeks and Romans to help them prepare to live and work in a much more secular world.

The Renaissance standard for what constituted an educated person was based on the Greek concept of a well-rounded man who could think, speak, and write about a variety of topics. Cicero and Demosthenes were favorite authors for these lessons. The study of politics drew on the workings of the Greek and Roman political systems. Renaissance architects recreated Greek and Roman style buildings. Depending on Greek and Roman texts for scientific knowledge also established another divide with the church.

As people began to question the authority of the church, they cast back to the days of ancient Greece and Rome to cull the knowledge gathered by those civilizations and bring it back into their own.