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Extra resources for Culture and Values, Volume II: A Survey of the Humanities
Come and join me as soon as you possibly can and be sure to bring with you Plato’s treatise On the Sovereign Good,” Cosimo once wrote his protégé: “There is no pursuit to which I would devote myself more zealously than the pursuit of truth. ” A fiercely patriotic Florentine known to his contemporaries as Pater Patriae (“Father of the Homeland”), Cosimo lavished his funds on art projects to enhance the beauty of the city, at the same time glorifying his family name and atoning for his sins, especially usury (taking interest on money), by acts of generous charity.
Pico della Mirandola (1463–1494), one of the most brilliant humanists of the period, turned from his polyglot studies of Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Latin to a devout life under the direction of the friar; only his early death prevented him from joining Savonarola as a friar at San Marco. Savonarola’s hold over the Florentine political order (for a brief time he was the de facto ruler of the city) ended in 1498 when he defied papal excommunication and was then strangled and burned in the public square before the Palazzo Vecchio.
Botticelli earlier had been an apprentice of the painter Fra Filippo Lippi (c. 1406–1469), but Piero and his aristocratic wife Lucrezia Tornabuoni (a highly cultivated woman who was a religious poet) took Botticelli into their home and treated him as a family member. Botticelli stayed closely allied with the Medici for decades. One tribute to the Medici was Botticelli’s painting Adoration of the Magi [Fig. 19], a work commissioned for the Florentine Church of Santa Maria Novella. 18 Paolo Uccello, The Battle of San Romano, 1455.