Renaissance man

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The "Vitruvian man" by Leonardo da Vinci is a study of how a human figure can be fitted into two geometric shapes, the circle and the square.

The term Renaissance man or polymath is used for a very clever person who is good at many different things. The idea comes from a time of history called the Renaissance which lasted from about 1400 to about 1600. One of the most famous people alive during this time was Leonardo da Vinci. He was most famous as a painter, but he was also a scientist, engineer and mathematician. Leonardo is called a "Renaissance man".[1] Another "Renaissance man" was Michelangelo, who was a sculptor, painter, architect and poet.[2]

When the term "Renaissance man" is used, it does not mean that the man really lived in the Renaissance. It can be used for anyone who is very clever at many different things, no matter when that person lived. Albert Schweitzer was a 20th century "Renaissance man" who was a theologian, musician, philosopher and doctor.[3] Benjamin Franklin was a "Renaissance man" who lived in the 18th century (1700s) and was an author and printer, politician, scientist, inventor and soldier.[4]

List of polymaths[change | change source]

  • Aristotle (Greek: Ἀριστοτέλης, Aristotélēs) (384 BC – 322 BC) was a Greek philosopher who studied and wrote about many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, politics, government, ethics, biology and zoology.
  • Archimedes (Greek: Ἀρχιμήδης; c. 287 BC – c. 212 BC) was a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer.
  • Roger Bacon, O.F.M. (c. 1214–1294), also known as Doctor Mirabilis (Latin: "wonderful teacher"), an English Franciscan friar who was a philosopher, theologian and scientist. One of the first people to perform scientific experiments in a modern manner.
  • Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) Italian painter, sculptor, engineer, astronomer, anatomist, biologist, geologist, physicist, architect, musician, philosopher and humanist.[9][10][11][12][13]
  • Michelangelo (March 6, 1475 – February 18, 1564) was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, engineer and theologian (student of the Bible).
  • Galileo Galilei (1564–1642) was an Italian scientist, mathematician, astronomer, physicist, and philosopher.
  • Gottfried Leibniz (1646–1716) was a German philosopher, theologian, physicist, mathematician, historian, librarian and inventor.
  • Mikhail Lomonosov (1711–1765) was a Russian poet, educator, artist, physicist and chemist education.
  • Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826). American president who was a horticulturist, architect, archaeologist, inventor, and founder of a university.
  • Rabindranath Tagore (7 May 1861 – 7 August 1941) was a Bengali poet, artist, playwright, novelist, educationist, social reformer, nationalist, business-manager and composer.
  • Sir Winston Churchill (30 November 1874 – 24 January 1965) was a British prime minister, military leader, historian, novelist, painter and sportsman.

References and notes[change | change source]

  1. BBC: Science & Nature
  2. John Addington Symonds, "The Renaissance Man", The Life of Michelangelo Buonarroti, Kindle Edition
  3. Albert Schweitzer Fellowship
  4. Benjamin Franklin: Early American Renaissance Man
  5. Richard Covington, "Rediscovering Arabic Science", Saudi Aramco World, May/June 2007.
  6. Charles F. Horne (1917), ed., The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East Vol. VI: Medieval Arabia, pages 90–91. Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, New York. (cf. Ibn Sina (Avicenna) (973–1037): On Medicine, c. 1020 CE, Medieval Sourcebook.)
  7. Top 100 Events of the Millennium, Life magazine.
  8. Caroline Stone, "Doctor, Philosopher, Renaissance Man", Saudi Aramco World, May-June 2003, p. 8–15.
  9. Johnston, Robert K.; J Walker Smith (2003). Life Is Not Work, Work Is Not Life: Simple Reminders for Finding Balance in a 24-7 World. Council Oak Books. "...the prodigious polymath of the Italian Renaissance. Painter, sculptor, engineer, astronomer, anatomist, biologist, geologist, physicist, architect, philosopher, humanist."p. 1
  10. Elmer, Peter; Nicholas Webb, Roberta Wood (2000). The Renaissance in Europe: An Anthology. Yale University Press. "The following selection... shows why this famous Renaissance polymath considered painting to be a science..."
  11. p. 180
  13. Johnston, Robert K.; J Walker Smith (2003). Life Is Not Work, Work Is Not Life: Simple Reminders for Finding Balance in a 24-7 World. Council Oak Books. p. 1

Further reading[change | change source]

  • Polymath: A Renaissance Man
  • Polymath -Citizendium
  • "History", "Mathematic", "Polymath" and "Polyhistor" in one or more of: Chamber's Dictionary of Etymology, The Oxford Dictionary of Word Histories, The Cassell Dictionary of Word Histories