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Author Topic: THE RENAISSANCE  (Read 4733 times)
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« Reply #105 on: October 17, 2008, 08:51:37 pm »

Regiomontanus's account of Hellenistic philosophy is much more detailed than Tiphernas's, giving details about the theories of Hipparchus and Ptolemy gleaned from his reading of the Almagest, an Epitome of which he had only recently completed.37 Hipparchus's theories are discussed in chapter 7 of the Epitome (for which Regiomontanus was responsible), although interestingly, he is there referred to as "Abrachis," a garbled version of his name stemming from Gerard of Cremona's translation of the Almagest.38 Nevertheless, it is clear that Regiomontanus derives his history of Hellenistic astronomy from his reading of the Almagest itself.

Further, whereas Tiphernas ends his account with Ptolemy, Regiomontanus continues, mentioning medieval Arabic and Latin sources, and describing [End Page 53] how the Arabic sources were translated into Latin. As with his description of Hellenistic astronomy, his treatment of Arabic and Latin shows a deep familiarity with the texts themselves. He portrays Arabic and medieval Latin sources in a positive light, implying that they can supplement and even supersede (Geber is the "corrector of Ptolemy") the body of knowledge left behind by classical authorities. Humanist hostility towards canonical medieval texts can be overstated, but it is nevertheless the case that there was a strong tendency to compare medieval authors unfavorably to their antique predecessors. Valla's encomium on Aquinas, which assigns the great Dominican theologian to the lowly place of cymbalist in the orchestra of theologians ("the first pair, Basil and Ambrose, [are] playing on the lyre; the second Nazianzen and Jerome, playing on the zither . . . the fifth, the Damascene and Thomas, playing on the cymbals") is a good example, as is Petrarch's marshalling of classical sources in opposition to St. Bernard in his invective Against a Detractor of Italy.39   
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