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The Renaissance is a complicated and multi-faceted period. True, one important characteristic feature of the Renaissance was an interest in the classical cultures of Greece and Rome. The Greeks and Romans provided models or ideals of what could be achieved in art, architecture, politics, mathematics, rhetoric, philosophy and so on.


Interestingly, it was the journey into their souls, if we may call it, which made them believe and adore the concept of the dignity of man. The dignity of man attained its greatest prominence and was given its characteristic meaning in the Italian Renaissance. Though as an idea it is usually ill defined and tends to express a complex of notions, classical and Christian, which writers of the period desired to assert, this interest into the importance of manhood brought about important paradigmatic shifts in the European society.
It is important to realise that this idea of the Renaissance was first coined in 1867 by Jakob Burckhardt in his book, The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy. The term has come to dominate our consciousness of what the historical experience of this period was. The Renaissance, as far as this book is concerned, is conceived as a departure from the Middle Ages, a fracture point where European culture suddenly changed into a new and different culture. It was a term that was formulated to stress the uniqueness of modern European culture, as something new on the face of human culture. Interestingly, in formulating a beginning for modern culture, the idea of the Renaissance also created the idea of the "middle ages," a period between the classical period and the Renaissance.
Thinking of a period that is perhaps bes ...
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