The bedrock of early Western society is to be found first in Greece and subsequently in Rome as civilization moved west from its cradle in the Middle East during several centuries before the birth of Christ. What was initiated by Greece in the form of architecture (the most immediately perceptible art), philosophy, literature, science, and, perhaps most significantly, politics, was hastened in its development as Rome first conquered and then absorbed Greece and its culture, spreading subsequently further west and north to include most of the then-known Western world. It remains a model, an exemplar to which we can still turn for solutions to a wide range of modern problems, from political structures to ideas for decorating pottery. The rise of Christianity in later Imperial Rome and its spread by the Empire through all its lands led to its adoption by Western society, deflecting interest from the earlier Classicism so that it was nearly 1,000 years later, for political reasons, that a return to Classical themes occurred. Interest quickly turned to enthusiasm and passionate dedication to understanding, reconstruction, and re-evocation. There is still much discussion as to the earliest evidences of this renewed interest in the Classical world, and it is important to note that interest did not drown during the growth of Christianity: it merely submerged and, so to speak, held its breath. The timing of this return depends on what are considered to be the qualities that represent Renaissance society. Academic consideration of this matter is continuing, and perhaps it is sufficient, for the moment, that we recognize that Michelangelo was


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