BOOK XV - The Rebirth of Ancient Learning


"The lips of wisdom are closed, except to the ears of Understanding."  
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
The Fall of Constantinople was the capture of the capital of the Christian Eastern Roman Empire (also known as the Byzantine Empire) by the army of the Ottoman Empire on Tuesday, 29 May 1453.


Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI
Palaiologos
Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II
The Ottomans were commanded by 21-year-old Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II.
(محمد ثانى الفاتح) Mehmet el-Fātiḥ(30 March 1432 – 3 May 1481
Mehmet defeated an army commanded by Byzantine Emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos.
(Κωνσταντινος ΙΑ' Δραγάσης Παλαιολόγος, Kōnstantinos XI Dragasēs Palaiologos) 8 February 1405 – 29 May 1453.

The conquest of Constantinople followed a seven-week siege that had begun on Friday, 6 April 1453.
The capture of Constantinople marked the end of the Roman Empire, a mighty imperial state, which had endured for nearly 1,500 years.

Ottoman armies, after the fall of Constantinople were free to advance into Europe.
After the conquest, the Ottoman (Osman) Sultan Mehmed transferred the capital of the Ottoman Empire from Edirne to Constantinople.
Large numbers Greek and other intellectuals fled the city of Constantinople before and after the siege.
Many migrated to Italy, taking with them many precious manuscripts, where thy were responsible, by and large, for the rebirth of ancient learning.

Taklid i Seyf  - The Sword of Osman
Turga of Sultan Mehmed II
دولت عليه عثمانیه Devlet-i ʿAliyye-yi ʿOsmâniyye - Modern Turkish: Osmanlı İmparatorluğu - (The Ottoman Empire) sometimes referred to as the Turkish Empire, was a contiguous transcontinental empire founded by Turkish tribes under Osman Bey in north-western Anatolia in 1299. With Constantinople (Istanbul) as its capital, and control of vast lands around the Mediterranean basin, the Ottoman Empire was at the center of interactions between the Eastern and Western worlds for over six centuries. It was dissolved in the aftermath of World War I; the collapse of the empire led to the emergence of the new political regime in Turkey itself, as well as the creation of the new Balkans and Middle East.

The Seal of Mohammed
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
As was explained in the previous  Book, (BOOK XIV - The Chosen People of the Demiurge - Part V - The Muslims), the Demiurge wished to see Islam supersede both Christianity and Judaism.
 'Allah'
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
Christianity had originally been intended to be an updated form of Judaism - spreading the worship of, and obedience to Yaweh (the Demiurge) throughout Europe (via the Roman Empire), and later the world.



Christianity, however, with its doctrine of salvation and forgiveness, the doctrine of the Trinity, the introduction of the feminine with the doctrine of the Theotokos, and the doctrine of the intercessory actions
of the Communion of the Saints had strayed far from the original concept of the absolute sovereignty of the Demiurge Yaweh.
Islam, however, introduced the Demiurge as 'Allah' (the 'god'), - the one, all powerful and sovereign 'god' - identical to, but now distinguished from Yaweh.

While the Semitic Jews - the followers of Yaweh - were, after 70 AD, a spent force, living as a minority in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, the Muslims were potentially a world conquering Semitic power under the rule of the Demiurge 'Allah'.

The Osmans, or as the Westerners called them, the Ottomans, were Turks who, at the time, were the latest leaders of one of the three groups of the 'Children of the Demiurge', - those who called themselves 'Muslims', and who worshiped the Demiurge in a faceless, featureless form - who called himself Allah (the god), and who had deceitfully revealed himself to the poor, epileptic merchant we know as Mohammed.
The Demiurge, deluding himself that he was the true god - the ineffable ONE - believed that he possessed all knowledge. In this deluded state he did not perceive that to destroy the Christian stronghold of Constantinople he would, in fact, undermine his own plans for the sentient being of the Earth.
The Demiurge had concluded that the Christians had lost their way, and no longer worshiped him as he required, whereas the Muslims was travelling the true path.
He therefore favored the Sunni Muslims, and in as far as he was able, he smoothed their path and guided their leaders.
The Shia, on the other hand, he had abandoned.

Imam Ali
Ya Ali
The Shia ( شيعة‎ ), or the Shiites, represent the second largest denomination of Islam. Adherents of Shia Islam are called Shias or the Shi'a. Shi'a is the short form of the historic phrase Shīʻatu ʻAlī (شيعة علي) meaning 'followers', 'faction' or 'party' of Muhammad's son-in-law and cousin Ali, whom the Shia believe to be Muhammad's successor in the Caliphate. Twelver Shia (Ithnā'ashariyyah) is the largest branch of Shia Islam, and the term Shia Muslim is often taken to refer to Twelvers by default. Shia Islam is based on the Quran, and the message of Muhammad attested in hadith recorded by the Shia, and certain books deemed sacred to the Shia (Nahj al-Balagha). Shia consider Ali to have been divinely appointed as the successor to Muhammad, and as the first 'Imam'. The Shia also extend this 'Imami' doctrine to Muhammad's family, the 'Ahl al-Bayt' (the People of the House), and certain individuals among his descendants, known as 'Imams', who they believe possess special spiritual and political authority over the community, infallibility, and other divinely-ordained traits

The effect of the Muslim victories, however, while fatally weakening the Christians in the East, cause numerous hidden 'Gnostic' and 'Apocraphal' books to make their way to Europe, and in particular the wealthy and progressive centers in the Italian peninsular. 'The rest', as sentient humans say, 'is history'.


THE RENAISSANCE

What is described in human history as the 'Renaissance' (the rebirth of Ancient Learning) began in Florence, in the 14th century.


Lorenzo de Medici
Arms of the Medici Family
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
A variety of factors produced this significant cultural and historical event, including the social and civic peculiarities of Florence at the time; its political structure; the patronage of its dominant family, the Medici; and in particular, as already referred to, the migration of Greek scholars and texts to Italy following the Fall of Constantinople at the hands of the Ottoman Turks.
Other major centers were northern Italian city-states such as Venice, Genoa, Bologna, Milan and finally Rome during the Renaissance Papacy.

The word 'Renaissance', literally meaning "Rebirth" in French, first appears in English in the 1830s. The word occurs in Jules Michelet's 1855 work, 'Histoire de France'. The word 'Renaissance' has also been extended - perhaps unwisely -  to other historical and cultural movements, such as the 'Carolingian Renaissance' and the 'Renaissance' of the 12th century.

The Renaissance was a cultural movement that profoundly affected European intellectual life in the early modern period. Beginning in Italy, and spreading to the rest of Europe by the 16th century, its influence was felt in literature, philosophy, art, music, politics, science, religion, and other aspects of intellectual inquiry.
Renaissance humanists sought out literary, historical, and oratorical texts of Antiquity, while the Fall of Constantinople (1453) generated a wave of émigré Greek scholars bringing precious manuscripts in ancient Greek, many of which had fallen into obscurity in the West.
In the revival of neo-Platonism Renaissance humanists while not publicly and officially rejecting Christianity fundamentally undermined the Christian basis of Western society and culture.
A subtle shift took place in the way that intellectuals approached religion that was reflected in many other areas of cultural life.
In addition, many Greek Christian works, including the Greek New Testament, were brought back from Byzantium to Western Europe and engaged Western scholars for the first time since late antiquity. This new engagement with Greek Christian works, and particularly the return to the original Greek of the New Testament promoted by humanists Lorenzo Valla and Erasmus, would help pave the way for the Protestant Reformation.
Giovanni Pico della Mirandola wrote the famous text "De hominis dignitate" (Oration on the Dignity of Man, 1486), which was critical contribution to Italian Renaissance humanism, and which consisted of a series of theses on philosophy, (and significantly) on natural thought and magic.
In addition to studying classical Latin and Greek, Renaissance authors also began increasingly to use vernacular languages; combined with the introduction of printing, this would allow many more people access to the revived learning.
In all, the Renaissance could be viewed as an attempt by intellectuals to study and improve the secular and worldly, both through the revival of ideas from antiquity, and through novel approaches to thought.
The study of ancient literature began in the 14th century, with a Latin phase, when Renaissance scholars such as Petrarch, Coluccio Salutati (1331–1406), Niccolò de' Niccoli (1364–1437) and Poggio Bracciolini (1380–1459 AD) scoured the libraries of Europe in search of works by such Latin authors as Cicero, Lucretius, Livy and Seneca.
By the early 15th century, the bulk of such Latin literature had been recovered; the Greek phase of Renaissance humanism was now under way, as Western European scholars turned to recovering ancient Greek literary, historical, oratorical and theological texts.
Unlike the case of those Latin texts, which had been preserved and studied in Western Europe since late antiquity, the study of ancient Greek texts was practically unknown in medieval Western Europe. 
One of the greatest achievements of Renaissance scholars was to bring Greek cultural works back into Western Europe for the first time since late antiquity.
Inevitably, of course, the rediscovery of classical philosophy and science would eventually challenge traditional religious beliefs in the West.
Renaissance Neo-Platonists, such as Marsilio Ficino (see below), whose translations of Plato were still used into the nineteenth century, attempted to reconcile (with limited success) Platonism with Christianity.
In this spirit, Pico della Mirandola attempted to construct a syncretism of all religions, but his work, not surprisingly, did not win favor with Church authorities.
Two noteworthy trends in Renaissance humanism were Neo-Platonism and Hermeticism, which through the works of figures like Nicholas of Kues, Giordano Bruno, Cornelius Agrippa, Campanella and Pico della Mirandola came close to constituting a new religion itself - a religion of the Æons.
Of these two, Hermeticism has had great continuing influence in Western thought, while the former led to movements in Western esotericism such as Theosophy.

Marsilio Ficino 

Marsilio Ficino
Marsilius Ficinus; (19 October 1433 – 1 October 1499) was an Italian scholar who was one of the most influential humanist philosophers of the early Italian Renaissance.
He was also an astrologer, who revived Neoplatonism, and was in touch with every major academic thinker and writer of his day, and the first translator of Plato's complete extant works into Latin.
His Florentine Academy, an attempt to revive Plato's Academy, had enormous influence on the direction and tenor of the Italian Renaissance and the development of European thought and philosophy.
Ficino's main original work was his treatise on the immortality of the soul ('Theologia Platonica de immortalitate animae').
In enthusiasm for the works of Antiquity, he exhibited a great interest in the arts of astrology, which landed him in trouble with the Roman Catholic Church.
In 1489 he was accused of magic before Pope Innocent VIII and needed strong defense to preserve him from the condemnation of heresy.
Writing in 1492 Ficino proclaimed:
"This century, like a golden age, has restored to light the liberal arts, which were almost extinct: grammar, poetry, rhetoric, painting, sculpture, architecture, music ... this century appears to have perfected astrology."
He also wrote ''De amore' (1484) and the influential 'De vita libri tres' (Three books on life.)
'De vita', published in 1489, provides a great deal of curious contemporary medical and astrological advice for maintaining health and vigor, as well as espousing the Neoplatonist view of the world's ensoulment and its integration with the human soul:
'There will be some men or other, superstitious and blind, who see life plain in even the lowest animals and the meanest plants, but do not see life in the heavens or the world ... Now if those little men grant life to the smallest particles of the world, what folly! what envy! neither to know that the Whole, in which 'we live and move and have our being,' is itself alive, nor to wish this to be so.'
Ficino introduced the term and concept of "platonic love" in the West.
It first appeared in a letter to Alamanno Donati in 1476, but was later fully developed all along his work, mainly his famous 'De amore'.

Pico della Mirandola

Pico della Mirandola
Count Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (24 February 1463 – 17 November 1494) was famed for the events of 1486, when at the age of 23, he proposed to defend 900 theses on religion, philosophy, natural philosophy and magic against all comers, for which he wrote the famous 'Oration on the Dignity of Man', which has been called the "Manifesto of the Renaissance", and a key text of Renaissance humanism and of what has been called the "Hermetic Reformation".
Pico based his ideas chiefly on Plato, but retained a deep respect for Aristotle.
Although he was a product of the 'studia humanitatis', Pico was constitutionally an eclectic.
It was always Pico’s aim to reconcile the schools of Plato and Aristotle, since he believed they both used different words to express the same concepts.
It was perhaps for this reason his friends called him "Princeps Concordiae", or "Prince of Harmony" (a pun on Prince of Concordia, one of his family's holdings.
Similarly, Pico believed an educated person should also study the 'Hermetics'.
In the 'Oratio de hominis dignitate' (Oration on the Dignity of Man, 1486), Pico justified the importance of the human quest for knowledge within a Neoplatonic framework.
The 'Oration' also served as an introduction to Pico's 900 theses, which he believed to provide a complete and sufficient basis for the discovery of all knowledge, and hence a model for mankind's ascent of the chain of being.
The 900 Theses are a good example of humanist syncretism, because Pico combined Platonism, Neoplatonism, Aristotelianism, and Hermeticism.
They also included 72 theses describing what Pico believed to be a complete system of physics.
Mirandola's 'De animae immortalitate' (Paris, 1541), and other works developed the view that man's possession of an immortal soul freed him from the hierarchical stasis.
Pico may have believed in universal reconciliation, since one of his 900 theses was
"A mortal sin of finite duration is not deserving of eternal but only of temporal punishment;"
In the 'Oration' he writes that
"human vocation is a mystical vocation that has to be realized following a three stage way, which comprehends necessarily moral transformation, intellectual research and final perfection in the identity with the absolute reality. This paradigm is universal, because it can be retraced in every tradition."
The Platonic Academy (also known as the Florentine Academy) was a 15th-century discussion group in Florence, Italy. It was founded after Gemistus Pletho reintroduced Plato's thoughts to Western Europe during the 1438 - 1439 Council of Florence. It was sponsored by Cosimo de' Medici, led by Marsilio Ficino and supported by Medici until death of Lorenzo Medici.

Giordano Bruno


Giordano Bruno
Giordano Bruno (Iordanus Brunus Nolanus; 1548 – 17 February 1600), was a philosopher, mathematician, poet, and astrologer.
He is celebrated for his cosmological theories, which went even further than the then-novel Copernican model.
He proposed that the stars were just distant suns surrounded by their own 'exoplanets', and raised the possibility that these planets could even foster life of their own (a philosophical position known as 'cosmic pluralism').
He also insisted that the universe was in fact infinite, and could have no celestial body at its "center".
In addition to cosmology, Bruno also wrote extensively on the 'art of memory', a loosely organized group of mnemonic techniques and principles.
Bruno’s Art of Memory was a "magical psychology."
Bruno’s complex magical memory system consisted of "wheels" on which groups of letters, symbols and images corresponded to the physical contents of the terrestrial world, representing the whole sum of human knowledge accumulated through the centuries.
It is presumed, by scholars who have studied these diagrams, that the person who committed this system to memory,
"rose above time and reflected the whole universe of nature and of man in his mind."

Bruno’s memory wheel was a "Hermetic secret," since it was the "gnostic reflection of the universe in the mind."
Hermetic Zodiac
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
Bruno believed that when, in the mind, one conformed symbols and images to celestial forms, which corresponded to the figures of the zodiac, and when one held these images all at once in the mind, one would arrive from
"the confused polarity of things at the underlying unity."
In essence, one would become "like God."

Bruno was deeply influenced by Neoplatonism, Renaissance Hermeticism, and legends surrounding the Egyptian god Thoth (Greek Hermes.
His world-picture was colored by a magical philosophy that almost became his religion.
He described Moses as a magus who, learning his magic from the Egyptians, had out-conjured the magicians of Pharaoh.



Egyptian Cross
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
The true cross, for Bruno, was the Egyptian cross - full of magic power for tapping astral influence.
The Christian cross was a weak derivative.
Bruno’s religion was the moving force behind both his wandering career, and his philosophical and cosmic speculations.
He believed that he was reviving the magical religion of the ancient Egyptians, a religion older than Judaism or Christianity, which these inferior religions had suppressed, but of which he prophesied the imminent return.
It included a belief in the magical animation of all nature, which the magus could learn how to tap and to use, and a belief in metempsychosis.

The origins of Bruno’s “Egyptianism” were the Hermetic core of Renaissance Neoplatonism, and the religious magic, or theurgy, taught by Hermes Trismegistus, particularly in 'The Asclepius', and also revealed in the writings of Porphyry and Iamblichus.

Egyptian Temple Worship

As propagated by Marsilio Ficino, Renaissance Neoplatonism included a firm belief that both Plato and his followers had been inspired by a tradition of prisca theologia, or pristine and pure theology, which had come down to them from the teachings of Hermes Trismegistus, a mythical Egyptian sage, and other figures supposedly of extreme antiquity.
This belief rested on the misdating of certain late antique texts, of which the most important were the Asclepius and the Corpus Hermeticum, which were supposed to have been written by Hermes Trismegistus himself.
Other studies of Bruno have focused on his qualitative approach to mathematics and his application of the spatial concepts of geometry to language.
In 1584, Bruno published two important philosophical dialogues in which he argued against the planetary spheres.
Bruno's infinite universe was filled with a substance, æther, (the equivalent of a vacuum), that offered no resistance to the heavenly bodies which, in Bruno's view, rather than being fixed, moved under their own impetus (momentum).
Most dramatically, he completely abandoned the idea of a hierarchical universe.

The universe is then one, infinite, immobile.... It is not capable of comprehension and therefore is endless and limitless, and to that extent infinite and indeterminable 
"We have been imprisoned in a dark dungeon, whence only distantly could we see the far off stars. But now we are released. We know that there is one heaven, a vast ethereal region in which move those flaming bodies which announce to us the glory and majesty of God. This moves us to contemplate the infinite cause of the infinite effect; we see that the divinity is not far distant, but is within us, for its center is everywhere, as close to dwellers in other worlds as it is to us. Hence we should follow not foolish authorities but the regulated sense and the illuminated intellect."
Bruno's most representative work, 'Spaccio de la bestia trionfante' (The Expulsion of the Triumphant Beast), published in an atmosphere of secrecy in 1584, and never referred to as anything but blasphemous for more than a century, was singled out by the church tribunal at the summation of his final trial.
That is hardly surprising because the book is a daring indictment of the corruption of the social and religious institutions of his day.
The "triumphant beast" signifies the reign of multifarious vices.
Cast in the form of allegorical dialogues, Bruno's work presents the deliberations of the Greek gods, who have assembled to banish from the heavens the constellations that remind them of their evil deeds.
The crisis facing Jove, the father of the gods, is symbolic of the crisis in a Renaissance world profoundly disturbed by new religious, philosophical, and scientific ideas.
Undoubtedly Bruno reached his conclusions via a mystical revelation - in other words he was yet another sentient being who was in communications with the Æons.

Hermeticism

Hermeticism
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
Plutarch's mention of Hermes Trismegistus dates back to the 1st century AD, and Tertullian, Iamblichus (Neo-PLatonic philosopher), and Porphyry (Neo-PLatonic philosopher) were all familiar with Hermetic writings.
After centuries of falling out of favor, Hermeticism was reintroduced to the West when, in 1460, a man named Leonardo brought the 'Corpus Hermeticum' to Pistoia.
He was one of many agents sent out by Pistoia's ruler, Cosimo de' Medici, to search for lost ancient writings.
In Hermeticism, the ultimate reality is referred to variously as God, the All, or the ONE.
God in the 'Hermetica' is unitary and transcendent: he is one and exists totally apart from the material cosmos.
Hermetism is therefore profoundly monotheistic although in a deistic and unitarian understanding of the term. 
"For it is a ridiculous thing to confess the World to be one, one Sun, one Moon, one Divinity, and yet to have, I know not how many gods."
Hermes
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
from an image by Erdehel
Its philosophy teaches that there is a transcendent ONE, or 'Absolut'e, in which we and the entire universe, in some mysterious way, participate.
It also subscribes to the idea that other beings, such as Æons, Archons and Elementals (Dæmons), exist within the universe.
Hermeticists believe in a 'prisca theologia', the doctrine that a single, true theology exists, that it exists in all religions, and that it was given to man in antiquity.

"As above, so below," are words circulate throughout occult and magical circles.
The actual text of that maxim, which comes from 'The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus', is:
"That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracle of the One Thing."
Thus, whatever happens on any level of reality (material or spiritual) also happens on every other level.
This principle, however, is more often used in the sense of the microcosm and the macrocosm.

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
The microcosm is the individual sentient being, and the macrocosm is the universe.
The macrocosm is as the microcosm and vice versa; within each lies the other, and through understanding one it may be possible understand the other.
The cosmology found in the first book of the 'Corpus Hermeticum' begins when the ONE, by an act of will, creates the primary matter that is to constitute the cosmos
From primary matter the ONE separates the four elements (earth, air, fire, and water). Then the elements are ordered into the seven heavens, (often held to be the spheres of Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the Sun, and the Moon, which travel in circles and govern destiny).

Hermetic Literature


Hermetic Literature
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
Hermeticists generally attribute 42 books to Hermes Trismegistus, although many more have been attributed to him.
Most of them, however, are said to have been lost when the Great Library of Alexandria was destroyed.
There are three major texts that contain Hermetic doctrines:
'The Corpus Hermeticum' is the most widely known Hermetic text.
It has 18 chapters, which contain dialogues between Hermes Trismegistus and a series of other individuals.
The first chapter contains a dialogue between Poimandres and Hermes.
Poimandres teaches the secrets of the universe to Hermes.
In later chapters, Hermes teaches others, such as his son Tat and Asclepius.

Ἑρμῆς ὁ Τρισμέγιστος
Hermes Trismegistus
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
'The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus' is a short work which contains a phrase that is well known in occult circles: "As above, so below."
The actual text of that maxim translates as, "That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracle of the One Thing".
'The Emerald Tablet' also refers to the three parts of the wisdom of the whole universe. 
Hermes states that his knowledge of these three parts is the reason why he received the name Trismegistus ("Thrice Great").
Tradition states that 'The Emerald Tablet' was found by Alexander the Great at Hebron, supposedly in the tomb of Hermes.

The Æeon Thoth

Hermes Trismegistus (Ἑρμῆς ὁ Τρισμέγιστος, "thrice-greatest Hermes"; Latin: Mercurius ter Maximus) is the purported author of the Hermetic Corpus, a series of sacred texts that are the basis of Hermeticism. Hermes Trismegistus may be a representation of the syncretic combination of the Greek Æeon 'Hermes' and the Egyptian Æeon 'Thoth'. In Hellenistic Egypt, the Greeks recognized the congruence of their 'god' Hermes with Thoth. Subsequently the two Æeons were worshiped as one in what had been the Temple of the Æeon Thoth, in Khemnu, which the Greeks called Hermopolis.
Asclepius


'The Perfect Sermon' (also known as 'The Asclepius', 'The Perfect Discourse', or 'The Perfect Teaching') was written in the 2nd or 3rd century AD, and is a Hermetic work similar in content to 'The Corpus Hermeticum'.
Other important original Hermetic texts include the 'Discourses of Isis to Horus', which consists of a long dialogue between Isis and Horus on the fall of man and other matters; 'the Definitions of Hermes to Asclepius'; and many fragments, which are chiefly preserved in the anthology of Stobaeus.

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Renaissance Art

The city of Florence in Tuscany is renowned as the birthplace of the Renaissance, and in particular of Renaissance painting.

The influences upon the development of Renaissance painting in Italy are those that also affected Philosophy, Literature, Architecture, Theology, Science, Government and other aspects of society - as has been referred to above
A number of Classical texts, that had been lost to Western European scholars for centuries, became available.
These included Philosophy, Poetry, Drama, Science, and a thesis on the Arts. The resulting interest in Humanist philosophy meant that man's relationship with humanity, the universe and with the divine was no longer the exclusive province of the Church.
A revived interest in the Classics brought about the first archaeological study of Roman remains by the architect Brunelleschi and sculptor Donatello (see below).
The revival of a style of architecture based on classical precedents inspired a corresponding classicism in painting, which manifested itself as early as the 1420s in the paintings of Masaccio and Paolo Uccello.


Cosimo de' Medici
Also the establishment of the Medici Bank - and the subsequent trade it generated, brought unprecedented wealth to the Italian city of Florence.
Cosimo de' Medici set a new standard for patronage of the arts, not associated with the church or monarchy.
The presence within the region of Florence of certain individuals of artistic genius, most notably Giotto, Masaccio, Brunelleschi, Piero della Francesca, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, formed an ethos that supported and encouraged many lesser artists to achieve work of extraordinary quality.

'The Birth of Venus'
Botticelli
A similar heritage of artistic achievement occurred in Venice through the talented Bellini family, and Mantegna, Giorgione, Titian and Tintoretto.
With the growth of Humanism, artists turned to Classical themes, particularly to fulfill commissions for the decoration of the homes of wealthy patrons, the best known being Botticelli's 'Birth of Venus' for the Medici.

'Ignudi'
Sistine  Chapel Ceiling
Michelangelo
Increasingly, Classical themes were also seen as providing suitable allegorical material for civic commissions.
Humanism also influenced the manner in which religious themes were depicted, notably on Michelangelo's Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.


'Ignudi'
Sistine  Chapel Ceiling
Michelangelo
The most significant images on the Sistine Chapel ceiling are not those of stories taken from the Jewish Bible, but rather, the 'Ignudi'.
These are the twenty muscular, athletic, young nude males that Michelangelo painted as part of the  ceiling.
The meaning of these figures, to the uninitiated, has never been clear.
They are foremost in keeping with the 'Humanist' acceptance of the classical Greek view that "the man is the measure of all things".
Michelangelo, however, would have been well aware of the fact that although Seraphim and Cherubim (in fact Æons) are described as being winged creatures, they are often described as looking like men.




'Captive' - 1513 and 1516
Michelangelo
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
It is correct, therefore, to conclude that the 'Ignudi' represent the lower Æons, who are the ever-present attendants of the ineffable ONE, - impassively watching and waiting on the fate of Humankind.
This, of course, makes them some of the most significant images in European art, as they are the first time that the Æons had been represented in painting or sculpture for nearly one and a half thousand years - and they marked the first tentative beginnings of mankind's release from the grip of the false spirituality (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) of the Demiurge.
In addition, there are examples of 'Ignudi' in Michelangelo's sculpture, known collectively as 'The Captives'. 
These works were to have a profound influence on later sculpture.
Although the figures were part of a projected group for the tomb of Pope Julius II, there bear no relationship to the Pope or the Catholic faith, and are simply further examples of Michelangelo introducing esoteric references to Hermeticism and  the Æons.


'David'
Donatello
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
In sculpture, Donatello's (1386–1466) study of classical sculpture led to his development of classicizing positions (such as the contrapposto pose) and subject matter (like the unsupported nude – his second sculpture of 'David' was the first free-standing bronze nude created in Europe since the Roman Empire.)

'David'
Michelangelo
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015
The progress made by Donatello was influential on all who followed; perhaps the greatest of whom is Michelangelo, whose 'David' of 1500 is also a male nude study; more naturalistic than Donatello's, and with greater emotional intensity.
Both sculptures are standing in contrapposto, their weight shifted to one leg.
In Architecture, the Renaissance style was introduced with a revolutionary but incomplete monument in Rimini by Leone Battista Alberti.
Some of the earliest buildings showing Renaissance characteristics are Filippo Brunelleschi's church of San Lorenzo, and the Pazzi Chapel.
Santo Spirito
Filippo Brunelleschi
The interior of Santo Spirito expresses a new sense of light, clarity and spaciousness, which is typical of the early Italian Renaissance.
Its architecture reflects the philosophy of Humanism, the enlightenment and clarity of mind as opposed to the darkness of the 'so-called' 'spirituality' of the Middle Ages.
The revival of classical antiquity can best be illustrated by the Palazzo Rucellai.
Here the pilasters follow the superposition of classical orders, with Doric capitals on the ground floor, Ionic capitals on the 'piano nobile', and Corinthian capitals on the uppermost floor.
In Mantua, Leone Battista Alberti ushered in the new antique style, though his culminating work, Sant'Andrea, was not begun until 1472, after the architect's death.


Tempietto in San Pietro
Bramante
Bramante's Tempietto in San Pietro in Montorio, Rome, 1502 the 'High Renaissance', as it is called, was introduced to Rome with Donato Bramante's Tempietto at San Pietro in Montorio (1502) and his original centrally planned St. Peter's Basilica (1506), which was the most notable architectural commission of the era, influenced by almost all notable Renaissance artists, including Michelangelo and Giacomo della Porta.


The Style of the Æons
The beginning of the late Renaissance in 1550 was marked by the development of a new column order by Andrea Palladio.
Colossal columns that were two or more stories tall decorated the facades.


The Classical Style of the Æons
The 'classical style', as it is known, which was re-introduced by the Renaissance masters is, in fact, the 'style' first taught to sentient humans by the Æons when they had close contact, during the early periods of Egyptian civilization, and later during the development of the ancient Greek civilization.


The Classical Style of the Æons
This 'classical style', in its pure form, uses subtle mathematical relationships and proportions which are related to the fundamental nature of space and time, as experienced by sentient humans.







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© Copyright Peter Crawford 2015


Foreword to the Books of Foundation


'The Books of Foundation' are intended to describe something of the nature of the cosmos.
The cosmos is the universe regarded as a complex and orderly system; the opposite of chaos.
The philosopher Pythagoras used the term κόσμος - 'cosmos', for the order of the universe, but the term was not part of modern language until the 19th century geographer and polymath, Alexander von Humboldt, resurrected the use of the word' from the ancient Greek, assigned it to his multi-volume treatise, 'Kosmos', and, along the way, influenced our present and somewhat holistic perception of the universe as one interacting entity.
In 'The Books of Foundation', not only is the nature of the κόσμος described, but also its structure, nature and origins, and man's purpose within the κόσμος.
These subjects are highhlighted under the titles Ontology (the Nature of Being), Cosmogenesis (the Act of Creation), Biogenesis (the Nature of Living Things), The Demiurge (the creator of this particular κόσμος), The First Time, The  Incarnation of the Aeons,  and the Nature of the Will. There then follow other chapters dealing with the subsequent history of sentient beings on Earth.
There are, of course, limitations to such a project.
It is, obviously, not within the grasp of sentient human entities to comprehend, to any true degree, the structure, nature and origins of the κόσμος, let alone  man's purpose with this system - and it is here that the major historical religions (and in particular Judaism, Christianity and Islam) make their fundamental mistake in claiming to grasp and determine such infinitely complex matters.
We can only perceive such difficult concepts in the form of analogies, images and archetypal myths - the reality, itself, remains beyond us.
This will not always be the  case, however, and 'The Books' are relevant for only a certain time-span.
Part of the purpose of human existence is 'to achieve a mystic vision of the Universe', but this will only be achieved after there has been an 'unprecedented exaltation of the human race' - which is the 'ultimate purpose of creation'.
Then 'The Books' can 'fall away' - for the 'new race of heroes, demi-gods and god-men' will clearly see - and understand.
For this is an essential part of the purpose of human existence - a true understanding of 'the Universe' - which would inevitably be combined with a full self-understanding - a final realization of who and what we are.
A 'coming home' - an final step in the endless searching - the feeling of emptiness  - of being unfulfilled - that is at  the core of all sentient life.
And it is the 'Books of Foundation' - when and if they are ever fully revealed - that will assist in the 'divine operation, - the physical and spiritual mutation', which will result in this inevitable 'exaltation' and transformation of the race.
 Peter Crawford - May 2015


© Copyright Zac Sawyer 2016