Following 1,000 years of cultural decline and societal collapse known as the Dark Ages, the 15th century brought forth the Renaissance, an unprecedented resurgence in learning and the arts, which four or five guys pretty much just strapped onto their backs and carried the whole way.

"Our research indicates that da Vinci, Michelangelo, Shakespeare, and Galileo basically hoisted the entire intellectual transformation of mankind onto their shoulders while everyone else just sat around being superstitious nimrods," said Sue Viero of the Correr Museum of Art in Venice, Italy. "Here's da Vinci busting his ass to paint such masterpieces as The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa, while some loser like Albrecht Dürer is doing these dinky little woodcuts that are basically worthless."

"And how pathetic is it that Masaccio wasted so much time churning out his frescoes that barely revolutionized linear perspective or naturalism at all, when without Michelangelo's David, we wouldn't even have a Renaissance to begin with?" Viero added. "Honestly, it's not even friggin' close."

Clockwise from left: da Vinci, Galileo, Michelangelo, and Shakespeare. Theirs are among the best-known names of the Renaissance, which stands to reason, because everyone else basically did dick-all to make it happen.

According to modern thought on the era, contributors to the Renaissance can be broken into two distinct groups: the brilliant few who, day in and day out, were thrusting society out of the depths of darkness and into the light of learning; and the rest of the so-called artists, mathematicians, and scientists, who were mostly all phoning it in.

Among those considered by historians not to have pulled their weight are Sandro Botticelli, Hugo van der Goes, Titian, and Italian humanist and total hanger-on Pico della Mirandola.

"So, Pico's most famous philosophical work was Oration On The Dignity Of Man," scoffed Harvard philosophy professor Richard Nostrand. "I mean, come on. Compare that to Thomas More's Utopia for—actually, you know what? Don't bother. Because you can't."

While some claim the three- century-long movement would not have been possible without the contributions of lesser-known sculptors and thinkers, most scholars said they would challenge anyone to name an image by Jan van Eyck or Francesco Guicciardini that's more iconic than, say, Donatello's Mary Magdalene.

"It's a no-brainer, really," cultural anthropologist Diane Messinick said. "Mediocre talents like the playwright George Peele or renowned court painter Federico Brandani were pretty much the equivalent of the guy at work who brews a fresh pot of coffee while you're busy making sure there's still a company to come back to after everyone gets back from goddamn Christmas break."

Added Messinick, "Hacks."