The Quarrel between the Ancients and the Moderns Criticism: Renaissance Origins - Essay

Joseph M. Levine (essay date 1981)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “Ancients and Moderns Reconsidered” in Eighteenth-Century Studies, Vol. 15, No. 1, Fall 1981, pp. 72-89.

[In essay below, Levine traces the origins of the English Battle of the Books to disputes among Renaissance humanists.]

There is a point of view from which the whole history of ideas can appear to be a struggle between old and new, between the ancients and the moderns. But the contest that broke out afresh and with especial acrimony in the 1690s was unusual in that it was to a large extent a deliberate resumption of a very specific set of rivalries whose outlines were first laid down in Antiquity and which had come to life again during the Italian...

(The entire section is 7548 words.)

Sarah Stever Gravelle (essay date 1981)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “Humanist Attitudes to Convention and Innovation in the Fifteenth Century” in The Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Vol. 11, No. 2, Fall 1981, pp. 193-207.

[In following essay, Gravelle discusses the arguments of several fifteenth-century humanists on the subject of ancients versus moderns, particularly regarding questions of language.]

Several scholars have shown that humanist study of language contributed to the development of historical consciousness.1 The present essay presents several philological discussions about convention and innovation that further illustrate the humanists' acute sense of historical change, a subject that has...

(The entire section is 7228 words.)

Robert Black (essay date 1982)

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

SOURCE: “Ancients and Moderns in the Renaissance: Rhetoric and History in Accolti's Dialogue on the Preeminence of Men of His Own Time,” in Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 43, No. 1, January-March 1982, pp. 3-32.

[In the essay that follows, Black analyzes Benedetto Accolti's Dialogue, one of the first long pieces about the quarrel between ancients and moderns. Placing this work within the history of the dispute, the critic considers the Dialogue “a forerunner of the development of the quarrel in the later Renaissance.”]

The comparison of ancients and moderns, so prominent a theme in western thought until the nineteenth century, was a...

(The entire section is 13663 words.)