The Renaissance Man

The Renaissance Man, also known as a polymath, is named after Leonardo daVinci, the quintessential example of a Renaissance Man. A Renaissance Man was a well-rounded individual, gifted and skilled in many different areas.

A Renaissance Man in the fifteenth or sixteenth century would be an intellectual philosopher, studying a wide variety of subjects. Usually, the Renaissance Man would be a writer and an artist, as well as skilled in science or inventions and math. Often, but not always, the Renaissance Man was also good at athletics, such as jousting. A Renaissance Man may be formally educated, but could also be self-taught. Either way, a thirst for learning and knowledge was key.

Leonardo daVinci was the prototype of a Renaissance Man. DaVinci was a philosopher and a well-known artist. You may be familiar with some of his most famous paintings, such as the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper.

DaVinci was also a brilliant mathematician, which helped him in his inventions. Some of his inventions included a flying machine and the precursors to the modern tank and machine gun! Like many Renaissance Men of his time, daVinci was a Christian and studied theology, or the study of religions. This is one of the differences between historical Renaissance Men and Renaissance Men today.

Another difference is that, because women today have access to the same education and opportunities as men, today we can have Renaissance Men and Renaissance Women! Perhaps that’s why the term polymath is a popular alternative to Renaissance Man. Either way, today’s Renaissance Men are still philosophical thinkers who read and write a lot.

They are also gifted artistically, though this can take many forms, such as music or acting as well as visual arts. Renaissance Men today are often athletic and may speak several languages, another feature shared by daVinci. However, daVinci would have studied ancient Greek and Latin, whereas today’s Renaissance Men might study any number of languages.

What examples can you think of that feature Renaissance Men throughout history? How about examples of Renaissance Men alive today? What do you think it would take for you to become a Renaissance Man yourself?