KULTURÁLIS MINTÁK ÉS KÖLCSÖNHATÁSOK EURÓPÁBAN
Why Cicero? The adaptation of Cicero’s role model and cultural values in the Renaissance
Cicero’s utmost importance for the culture of Renaissance humanism seemingly does not require further comments. In fact, the eminence of his style was never questioned, while the exceptional number of his surviving writings, their moral and political orientation, and the wealth of information which they transmitted regarding the Antiquity guaranteed that Cicero was never really forgotten during the Middle Ages. However, the author argues that it was primarily neither Cicero’s style and Latinity nor his moral and political message that so much impressed the fi rst generations of Renaissance humanists but the model of the intellectual he had realised, the new values he had emphasised. Like Cicero, most prominent humanists came from a similar social milieu and strived to carve their place in a society that traditionally prized inherited status and not merit. To create the authentic image of the intellectual – a role that had been previously played by clericals – the humanist needed to establish a new cultural value system (and make accepted by the elite) where virtue, erudition and industry could have as much credit as noble status. In this striving Cicero the novus homo provided the most important authority for them, Cicero whose deeds and words seemed so much in accord with each other.
While low status, marginal position, exile, the lack of political relations when combined with learning and ambition could enhance the spirit of social criticism, the creation of new cultural values, in order to represent these values in an authentic way the intellectual had to preserve or invent a marginal position for himself that lay outside the realms of power. Th ese paradox produced the ambiguities (like in the attitude to vita activa/contemplativa, or in the relations to power) that make the life and thinking of Cicero, of his follower Petrarch and of other great Renaissance intellectuals so interesting.
In order to sustain the above argument the author fi rst outlined the way Cicero achieved fame and became an unquestioned political and intellectual authority in his age. He went on to introduce the example of some humanists – from Petrarch to Bracciolini – detailing how they adopted the model and cultural values Cicero represented fi nishing the paper with two counterexamples: Machiavelli and Montaigne. He argues that both reacted against Ciceronian humanism not because they were against Cicero’s style but for both rejected the career strategies, and the ideology of virtus that Cicero and his Renaissance followers came to represent.
Th e perfect Ambassador – Th eory and Practice as Mirrored in Early Modern Political Culture
By the middle of the 16th century the system of resident embassies became widespread in Europe. However, even at the beginning of the 17th century, it still lacked a sound and established theoretical and judicial ground. Th e ius gentium did not give guidelines in situations that developed or received new emphasis due to the new practice, such as the immunity of the ambassadors. Th e books and treatises on the perfect ambassador mostly refl ected the medieval approach to the topic and presented an idealized picture of what virtues an ambassador should possess, without being of any use for those working as ambassadors. Th e books Alberico Gentili and Jean Hotman depict the fact that these virtues rooted in the humanist canon, with basic references to Aristotle and Plato. On the other hand, the large number of publications on the topic, even if bound by medieval traditions, mirrors its importance in the eyes of the contemporaries.
In his letter to a friend Grotius lists the “required readings” for an ambassador, which shows great similarity to the humanist educational ideals. On the basis of these readings an ambassador could have been well trained in classical moral and political philosophy, and even learn something about sovereignty and the laws of war and peace, but would have defi nitely lacked any knowledge connected to the practice of his profession.
Th e paper examines the activity of Sir Th omas Roe, the English resident ambassador to the Porte between 1621 and 1628, with its focus on Gabor Bethlen, prince of Transylvania, and follows his moves in situations when he had no guidelines to rely on. Th is way his personal motives and his political tactics are revealed and a strange mixture of cool-headed counting and full hearted zeal emerge, the former utilizing the presence of the latter. It well represents early modern political culture where ideals, beliefs and virtues were no more objectives in themselves, but means to the realization of political wills.
The Stakes of Translation in Early Modern Hungary
Translations into the vernacular have a special importance for Hungary, where a signifi cant amount of works printed in the seventeenth century are translations of foreign works or compilations of several. Th ey contributed to the creation of an ethnolinguistic conception of the nation, by claiming to address all speakers of the vernacular regardless of social standing. In refl ections on translations however, references to the new concept were used as a rhetorical strategy to redefi ne the extant conception of the political nation. Th e stakes of the endeavour were that the characteristics by which one could belong to the nation should be redescribed in such a way that the new concept arising should include the translators as well, moreover that their characteristics should be central to the new defi nition. Th erefore, at least for Hungary, describing the early modern translation practice as intercultural communication misses what they were meaning to do, and not primarily by virtue of the translator’s belonging to the European Republic of Letters not divided by cultural boundaries. Th ey saw nations competing with each other, but what was remarkable about other nations was the very practice of translation and implicitly the high regard of such activities. All these remarks were rather elements in an intercultural game over defi nitions and ultimately about power.
William Robertson, Scottish Histories and German Identities. Translation and Reception in the Age of Enlightenment
This article contributes to the discussion on the „unity versus diversity of the Enlightenment” through the examination of the contemporary German reception of some of the works of the renowned Scottish historian William Robertson in translations, reviews, references, „native” texts of similar topic and inspiration, etc. Th e works in question concern national histories: those of Scotland and Germany, predominantly in the 16th century, which Robertson regarded as pivotal in the transition to modernity. In an attempt to re-focus national historical inquiry by superseding a sham patriotism based on partisanship and the search for vainglory, Robertson predicated his own approach of enlightened „impartiality” to these subjects on a comparative study of social and cultural structures, and relied on the conceptual and theoretical arsenal of conjectural or „stadial” history. One of the diffi culties the contemporary German interpreters did not quite cope with, had to do with the rather specifi c vocabulary employed in these paradigms. More importantly, Robertson’s German translators and commentators seem to have been more interested in precisely the partisan aspects of his books (Mary Stuart versus Elizabeth I, Protestants versus Catholics, etc.), which were intended to be suppressed in the original. In view of the dominant approaches in contemporary German historical scholarship, this should not be surprising. Th ough there were voices that demanded a broader horizon for German history as well as the application of standards similar to those of Robertson’s, the relevant texts of historians explicitly or implicitly regarded as his counterparts are marked with openly avowed political-ideological bias and an inward-looking search for the roots of modern „liberty” – the rule of law under strong (monarchical) government – not in the elimination of feudalism and the subsequent inability of monarchs to wield the plenitude of sovereign power, but the blessings of the imperial constitution. As in many other cases of communication in the enlightened republic of letters, the questions were to a great extent similar, but the stakes, the strategies and the answers fundamentally diff erent: the problems which from Robertson’s Scottish perspective called for a cosmopolitan and non-partisan treatment, continued to be discussed in precisely the opposite terms in the German reception of his writings relevant to national history
Baroque and Neobaroque. Th e interference of two notions in Hungary
At the beginning of the 20th century, during the last decades of the Habsburg monarchy, ‘Baroque’ was an alien cultural import to Hungarian national culture. It was related to Habsburg absolutism that opposed the nation’s struggle for political independence, and to the contrast between the Catholic Church, associated with the dynasty, and Protestantism as a driving force of political resistance. The fall of the Monarchy and the territorial disintegration of the Hungary after World War I brought about the rewriting of national history. Th e emergence of cultural history as a new trend in historiography and the impact of Geistesgeschichte prompted scholars to construct a Baroque period within a new cultural history of Hungary. Yet, their opinions regarding the issue whether or not such a period had been prosperous for the Hungarians, were biased by former ideological oppositions. Th e discovery of Baroque could be criticised because it seemed to be connected with the presence of a contemporary ‘Neobaroque’ mentality. Th e term ‘Neobaroque’ originally referred to the revival of the Baroque art forms at the turn of the century, infl uential in state-supported public architecture which created a pseudo-historical scene showing the greatness of the national past. Since this style survived long into the interwar period, remaining central to offi cial architecture, the term ‘Neobaroque’ could easily be turned into a key metaphor by the critique of the contemporary political and social system, exposing the emptiness and vanity of behaviour patterns, the servile reverence to power and the respect for illusory social values. Gyula Szekfű, a leading historian, labelled the society of the interwar period as ‘Neobaroque’ and stressed its inferiority to the great Baroque period of the 18th century which was his own historical construction. ‘Neobaroque’ became widespread in its metaphorical sense and, after 1945, during the Communist period, proved to be good enough to debunk the conservative mentality of the preceding decades. Th e ideological contrast with the interwar period excluded Baroque as an age of ‘feudal reaction’ from the ‘progressive’ interpretation of the past. However, from the 1960’s onwards, scholars reconciled the study of Baroque with Marxist ideology, liberated it from previous dichotomies (‘Catholic’ – ‘Protestant’, ‘national’ – ‘alien’) and fi nally, removed its harmful ‘Neobaroque’ connotations. Th us Baroque could become a part of national heritage in a socialist milieu, preceding the fashion of the term ‘cultural heritage’ after the fall of Communism, which helped to reframe Baroque in a Central European context. Around the year 2000, ‘Neobaroque’ still appeared to be useful as a critical term against the enduring patterns of interwar society. Both notions and their interference reveal a friction between Baroque and modernity, an anxiety concerning the persistence, survival and reminiscence of a much debated historical period.