The Pagan Dream of the Renaissance is a really interesting book. It looks at how at the end of Medieval times and the beginning of the Renaissance, people, especially in Italy, began to idolize the past Classic times of ancient Greece and Rome. This was exemplified with the excavations of Nero’s Golden House on Palatine Hill in Rome. Although people still strictly practiced their Christianity, they were also able to concurrently indulge their senses in adorning their palaces and gardens with pagan gods and themes.
This book looks into each aspect of this ideology from its inception to popularity through the 1499 book Hynerotomachia Poliphili, to painted palaces, garden grottos, the studiolo and Kunstkammer (the fore-runner to our modern day museum), festivals, the roots of opera, to finally reach the equivalent of a pagan Disney world with Louis XIV’s Versailles.
If art containing nymphs, satyrs, puttis, Greek gods, alchemy, beauty, and magic interests you, then this book is highly recommended.