Denis Robichaud, “Giovanni Pico della Mirandola’s Afterlife: the Two Picos and Later Transformations of Renaissance Humanism”

The Italian Research Seminar

Few Renaissance humanists are as famous as Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. Yet his nachleben is complex; beginning with his own nephew, Gianfrancesco Pico, scholars have remade Giovanni Pico in their own image. This talk will untangle a few long lasting scholarly traditions about Giovanni Pico and Renaissance humanism that in part originate in Gianfrancesco’s editorial work on Giovanni’s writings. In his spearheading monograph on Gianfrancesco Pico, Charles B. Schmitt noted the tendency in Gianfrancesco’s work to distance himself from his uncle’s philosophy. Specifically, Gianfrancesco never agreed with the goal of reaching a concord among philosophical schools and harmonizing Plato and Aristotle, as Giovanni Pico sought to achieve most notably in his De ente et uno. Nonetheless, Gianfrancesco defended this work from the objections of another philosopher, Antonio Cittadini, and in so doing reoriented his uncle’s project altogether.


Robichaud (PhD Johns Hopkins University) is Assistant Professor in the Program of Liberal Studies at the University of Notre Dame. He is an intellectual historian and historian of philosophy who works on Platonism, Neoplatonism, Italian Renaissance humanism, and classical traditions. In addition to a dozen book chapters and articles, including in Renaissance Quarterly and the Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, he has published Plato’s Persona: Marsilio Ficino, Renaissance Humanism, and Platonic Traditions (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018). He is presently preparing critical editions and a book-length study of Ficino’s unpublished Latin translations of Iamblichus’s De secta Pythagorica and Theon of Smyrna’s Mathematica. He was a Frances A. Yates Fellow at the Warburg Institute, School of Advanced Study, University of London, and won the Olivia Remie Constable Prize in Medieval Studies and Fellowship at Harris Manchester College, Oxford.


The talk will be followed by a discussion and a reception. Co-sponsored by Italian Studies at Notre Dame and the William and Katherine Devers Program in Dante Studies.

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