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Leonardo Fioravanti – knowledge for the masses

January 19, 2015

“Before the glorious art of printing came into being there were very few literati; and that was simply because, due to the high cost of books, no one could study who was not rich. So it happened of necessity that the poor were ignorant against their will: because of a lack of books they couldn’t study, and those who studied Greek and Latin amazed everyone who didn’t know letters with their eloquence and wit. The educated were truly content in those days because they were adored and revered as if they were gods.” (Dello specchio di scientia universale [1567])

“Just as in the fish market they sell all kinds of fish – including expensive fish for rich people and less costly kinds for the poor – so that everyone can eat according to their rank and not go hungry, so it’s necessary to have all sorts of writers. Some write for high and exalted minds, some for the middling sort, and some for those who don’t understand very much at all. In this way there will be food for all. Therefore if my work is not for intellectuals and men of learning, nor even for those of middling quality, at least it will be for those who understand little. For they are the hungriest, and I want everyone to have some food for thought.” (Secreti medicinali [1561])

(quotes from William Eamon, The Professor of Secrets [2010])


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