Petrarch

1304-1374. Early Italian scholar, called “the Father of Humanism.” He left the study of law to devote his time to the classics. The great figures of the Greco-Roman period became so real to him that he called Cicero his father and Virgil his brother. A very influential scholar, he wrote many Latin works, searched tirelessly for classical manuscripts, and edited many of them. Although he could not read them, he saved many writings in Greek also. He was the first to call medieval times “the Dark Ages,” for he felt that a golden age was dawning when men would “be able to walk back into the pure radiance of the past.” He fell in love with a beautiful lady named Laura, but because she was happily married he had to worship her from afar. The sonnets that he wrote to her had a great influence in Italian literature. His religious feelings are expressed in a work called Secretum (1352), where he attempts to reconcile piety with a love of the world.