Dr. J. E. Sandys of Cambridge, England, delivered the first of the Lane lectures for this year in the Fogg Lecture Room last night. His subject was "Petrarch and Boccaccio."
We are too apt, said Dr. Sandys, to exaggerate the ignorance of the Middle Ages, and to forget that the revival of learning in Italy was brought about by a long succession of causes. The link between mediaeval and modern literature is Petrarch. Descended from Florentine ancestry, he was born in 1304. He spent his youth in exile, and was educated at the University of Bologna. His first great achievement was the discovery of Cicero's "Pro Archia" in 1333. He spent a quiet life at Vaucluse and Arqua, where he died in 1374. Petrarch saturated his life with a careful study of the classics, to which he was early attracted by their perfection of form. His efforts to bring about a revival of Latin literature paved the way for the Italian Renaissance.
Closely associated with Petrarch is Boccaccio. Like the Florentine, he was early attracted by Latin and Greek literature. He especially admired Livy and Tacitus, whom he frequently quoted in his epistles. His most famous work is a "Follo on Mythology," the earliest book on the subject. As with Petrarch, Boccaccio's greatest service to literature was his preservation of ancient manuscripts.
The second lecture of the series, on "The Age of Discoveries," will be given in the Fogg Lecture Room tomorrow evening at 8 o'clock.