This research project aims to shed a new light on Renaissance rhetorical turn by exploring the rediscovery of the late-sophistic sources and their influence on humanistic rhetorical theory and practice from Leon Battista Alberti (1404-1472) to Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536). This shall be possible by focusing on the humanistic reappraisal of some qualities of the speech (variety, changeability, effectiveness) that the Platonic tradition condemned through the sophistic images of Proteus and the mirror.
Against this background, it is my ambition to mapping the humanistic circulation of the late-sophistic texts (both Progymnasmata and rhetorical compositions) and pointing out their connection with classical rhetoric (specially Cicero and Quintilian). This will allow to clarify the practical and theoretical use of late-sophistic sources in humanists’ literary and critical production and to show their hemeneutical function: these sources - and the metaphoric field that belong to them ( i.e. Proteus and the mirror with their qualities) - are one of the most powerful tools to understand how humanists read and re-wrote ancient tradition from a rhetorical, asystematic and anti-ontological point of view.