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Ben Thomson

The Virtue Politics of Cristoforo Landino's Disputationes Camaldulenses.

Cristoforo Landino's Disputationes Camaldulenses is a humanistic dialogue of the fifteenth-century whose declared aim is to investigate what a governor of a republic can gain from the thought of Plato. It addresses the philosophical questions of what the highest good in human life is and whether one might achieve this end through action or contemplation before illustrating its answers with an allegorisation of the Aeneid. For Landino, the journey of Aeneas from Troy, through Carthage, to Italy represents the journey of the soul from pleasure, through civic engagement, to the contemplation of the divine. My research seeks to help understand the political implications of this work for its readers - the educated elite of Medicean Florence - by analysing the system of virtue ethics which Landino devises therein, a system which unites Platonic ideas on the purgation and ascent of the human soul with Ciceronian republicanism, teaching politicians how to benefit the state through the exercise of both civic virtue and the wisdom gained from divine contemplation.


Supervisor: Dr Stephen Clucas

Image: Angel Appearing to Zacharias (detail) Fresco - Cappella Tornabuoni, Santa Maria Novella, Florence 1486-90