The Easy Yoke: Renaissance Religious Hedonism and Its Contemporary Impact

FBK-ISR International Seminar 2022

Pleasant life and religious life are usually considered to be mutually exclusive: the North Pole and the South Pole of existence. An argument that is often put forward to defend this separation is that religion involves painful self-denial and renunciation of the pleasures of this world. However, within the Christian tradition, we find a line of thought that has its roots in Patristics and develops from the Renaissance to the early modern age, according to which religious life is inseparable from pleasure. Drawing inspiration from the Gospels, where Christ’s message is described as a “light yoke” (Mt 11: 28-30), i.e. a sweet/pleasant burden, the present talk will offer a synthesis of this religious-philosophical perspective and will highlight its possible impact on contemporary thought. In particular, I shall analyze how “Christian hedonists” responded to the argument that contempt of the world is necessarily painful. One key interlocutor will be Lorenzo Valla (1467-1536), who in his dialogue De voluptate defends the perspective that contemptus mundi is in reality highly pleasurable, because it causes “here and now” one of the greatest pleasures accessible: the joy of contemplating the invisible divinity.


Scientific coordination
Massimo Leone, Director FBK-ISR

Cycle of seminars: “De-Polarization in Religion and Ethics


The event will be held in Italian

The event will be online 

To participate in the event, you must register by 12 noon on  
Thursday, 15 September 2022


Fresco by Schweitzer




  • Enrico Piergiacomi - Guest Speaker
    University of Trento
    Enrico Piergiacomi si è addottorato nel 2016 presso l’Università di Trento. Ha beneficiato della borsa di ricerca The Reception of Lucretius and Roman Epicureanism from the Middle Ages to the Eighteenth century (2019-2020) ed è stato borsista presso Villa I Tatti | The Harvard Center for Italian Renaissance Studies (2021-2022), lavorando al progetto The Pleasures of Piety. The History of a Neglected Religious Tradition. È uno specialista del pensiero teologico antico/moderno e delle sue ricadute morali. Ha pubblicato i libri Storia delle antiche teologie atomiste (Sapienza Editrice, Roma 2017) e Amicus Lucretius. Gassendi, il “De rerum natura” e l’edonismo cristiano (De Gruyter, Berlin-New York 2022). È attualmente visiting researcher presso il Centro per le Scienze Religiose della Fondazione Bruno Kessler di Trento e ricercatore presso l’Università di Zurigo, all’interno del progetto ERC The Just City: The Ciceronian Conception of Justice and Its Reception in the Western Tradition.


Registration to this event is mandatory.

Registration closed on 15/09/2022.



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