Origin: The term “Renaissance” was deeply influenced by the thoughts of Leon Battista Alberti. When the Pope commissioned him to restore the Roman aqueducts, which were neglected and damaged during the Middle Ages, Alberti used the terms “resurgence” or “rebirth” to describe the project, hinting at a renewed appreciation and rediscovery of the past’s glories.

Definition: The Renaissance signifies a period of intense cultural, artistic, political, and economic revitalization in Europe, with a particular focus on the rebirth and valorization of classical traditions. The key concept is that of “resurgence,” a renewed interest in antiquity, and the application of this knowledge to spur future innovations.

Characteristics: Central to the Renaissance are the ideas of revisiting and reclaiming the past to inform and inspire the present and future. This period underscores the cyclical interaction between past and present, where the ancient becomes the “classis”, the fundamental basis for creating new works.

Examples and Impact: One of the most emblematic episodes of this period was the discovery of the Laocoön statue in the early 1500s in Rome. This magnificent representation of ancient art, along with other discoveries like the Farnese Hercules, not only influenced masters like Michelangelo but reaffirmed the importance and relevance of classical traditions. These archaeological finds became tangible symbols of lost greatness, emphasizing that the past was not just historical memory, but a continuous wellspring of inspiration for the artists and thinkers of the time.

Underlying Philosophy: The Renaissance underscores the importance of looking back to move forward. As suggested by Alberti, to create something new and revolutionary, it’s essential to have a deep understanding of historical roots and foundations. This cycle of rediscovery and innovation manifests continually throughout human cultural history.