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Neo-Latin Commentaries and the Management of Knowledge in the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period (1400 -1700)

Neo-Latin Commentaries and the Management of Knowledge in the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period (1400 -1700)

Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Leuven University Press
Pages: 540
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  • Book Info
    Neo-Latin Commentaries and the Management of Knowledge in the Late Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period (1400 -1700)
    Book Description:

    Between 1400 and 1700 the political, religious, intellectual, and even geographic landscape was profoundly changed by the Reformation, Humanism, the rise of empirical science, the invention of printing technology, and the discovery of the New World. The late medieval and early modern intellectuals felt an urgent need to respond to the changes they were involved in, and to come to a revision and re-authorisation of knowledge. They embarked on a scholarly programme of a quality and extent hitherto unknown in the Western world: the whole body of the literature of antiquity, including the Bible, was to be re-edited critically and furnished with commentaries. The Neo-Latin commentary became the most important genre of humanist scholarship. This book sheds light on the various ways in which classical authors and the Bible were commented on, the types of commentary, the commenting strategies that were used to approach different readerships, the various kinds of knowledge that were collected, created, and transmitted, and the usages and reading practices applied to commentaries.

    eISBN: 978-94-6166-127-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VIII)
    (pp. IX-XII)
    (pp. XIII-XIV)
  5. INTRODUCTION. Neo-Latin Commentaries and the Management of Knowledge
    (pp. 1-76)
    Karl Enenkel and Henk Nellen

    Early modern commentaries, especially on the Classics and the Bible, belong to a category of texts that is often ignored in historical and literary-historical research. As texts they expound become available in modern critical editions, previous editions of the same texts are marginalized. And as an inevitable result, the accompanying commentaries disappear into oblivion as well. Although quite a few ingenious conjectures by early modern humanists are preserved in the apparatuses of modern critical editions of classical authors, this very rarely leads to a thorough, and even much less, to a systematic study of early modern commentaries. Since the nineteenth...

  6. I. Historical and geographical collections of knowledge

    • KOMMENTARE ALS MULTIVALENTE WISSENSSAMMLUNGEN: Das ‘Fürstenspiegel’-Kommentarwerk Antonio Beccadellis (De dictis et factis Alphonsi Regis Aragonum, 1455), Enea Silvio Piccolominis (1456) und Jakob Spiegels (1537)
      (pp. 79-138)
      Karl Enenkel

      Der Kommentar stellt prinzipiell eine offene Textsorte dar, die wesentlich von Sammlung, Selektion, Speicherung, Organisation, Sicherung und Autorisierung des Wissens bestimmt wird. Dem Kommentator steht eine Vielzahl von Möglichkeiten zur Verfügung, seine Sammlung zu erweitern, sie reicher, eindrucksvoller, interessanter, vielfältiger, abwechslungsreicher und unterhaltsamer, nützlicher, zugänglicher, kohärenter, übersichtlicher usw. zu machen. Dabei ist relevant, dass frühneuzeitliche Wissensammlungen nicht in einem abgeschotteten, abstrakten Raum situiert wurden, sondern grundsätzlich die Beziehung sowohl zum realen Leben als auch zu diversen Bereichen des geistigen Lebens suchten, d.h. sie wurden so angelegt, dass diverse praktische und intellektuelle Anwendungsweisen immer mitgedacht wurden. Man könnte sagen, dass diesem...

    • THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN: The Geographical Revolution in Humanist Commentaries on Pliny’s Natural History and Mela’s De situ orbis (1450-1700)
      (pp. 139-198)
      Susanna de Beer

      In his 1518 commentary on the ancient Roman geographer Pomponius Mela, the Swiss humanist Joachim Vadianus expressed his indignation over the method and content of Mela’s and other ancient geographers’ work. Both, in his view, had been superseded by modern insights. Regarding method he says:

      They were guided more by opinions than by experience or efficacious reasoning.¹

      With regard to Mela’s statement that theAntichthones, the inhabitants at the other side of the globe, cannot be reached because of the torrid zone at the equator, he remarks:

      For he is right to say that the middle zone is affected by...

  7. II. Classical Poetry

    • VIRGIL AND THE ETHICAL COMMENTARY: Philosophy, Commonplaces, and the Structure of Renaissance Knowledge
      (pp. 201-220)
      Craig Kallendorf

      Humanist schoolmasters, who were responsible for writing and disseminating many of the commentaries to classical texts produced during the Renaissance, were quite clear on the theoretical level about what they believed that reading the classics should do. The student should attain control over the Latin language, to be sure, but he should also become a morally better person through the study of ancient literature. In hisDe liberorum educatione, for example, Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini explains that ‘ad virtutem autem capessendam litterarum studia plurimum adiumenti praebent’.¹ Philosophy is ‘omnium mater artium’, but ‘absque litteris haud facile percipi potest’ (160). It is...

    • HORATIUS PRAECEPTOR ELOQUENTIAE. The Ars Poetica in Cristoforo Landino’s Commentary
      (pp. 221-240)
      Christoph Pieper

      On 5 August 1482, Antonio Miscomini, a printer in Florence, published theIn Q. Horatii Flacci libros omnes interpretationesby Cristoforo Landino, professor of Latin rhetoric and poetics at the Studio Fiorentino. Landino dedicated the work to Guidobaldo da Montefeltro, the son of the famous condottiere Federigo. Landino had by then been teaching at the Studio for nearly 25 years. He had also become the private teacher of the young Lorenzo de’ Medici. Furthermore, in addition to his youthful poetry he had written several philosophical treatises in which he had shown his affection for the Neoplatonism of Marsilio Ficino.¹ The...

    • NICCOLÒ PEROTTI’S CORNU COPIAE: The Commentary as a Repository of Knowledge
      (pp. 241-262)
      Marianne Pade

      Marcantonio Sabellico composed the dialogueDe latinae linguae reparationearound 1490.¹ The dramatic setting is Venice, Sabellico’s hometown, c. 1489, at first near the rich book stalls which inspire the discussion. The two main protagonists are Benedetto Brugnolo, professor at the Scuola di San Marco and later editor of Perotti’sCornu copiae,² and Battista, son of Guarino da Verona and himself a distinguished scholar and teacher.³De latinae linguae reparationecontains a history of sorts of fifteenth-century neo-Latin literature, and moreover a theoretical discussion of the use of commentaries. The old Brugnolo sketches a history of the decline of Latin...

    • ‘GOING BEYOND THE AUTHOR’: Caspar von Barth’s Observations on the Art of Commentary-Writing and his Use of Exegetical Digressions
      (pp. 263-292)
      Valéry Berlincourt

      In the spectrum of possible approaches that might be taken in early modern commentaries on Roman poetry, Caspar von Barth (1587-1658)¹ firmly lined up, not with the supporters of succinct text-centred exegetical discourse, but with the loquacious explorers of the vast world of knowledge. This contrast was heavily underscored in the reactions sparked by his works. TheClaudianhe published in 1650² caused a wave of protest from advocates of Nicolaas Heinsius’s contemporary commentary on the same author.³ Among other kind words,⁴ Barth was reproached for the ‘monstrous’ dimensions of his book,⁵ but also, as in a letter from Jacques...

  8. III. Drama

    • IN THE SHADOW OF DONATUS: Observations on Terence and Some of his Early Modern Commentators
      (pp. 295-324)
      Jan Bloemendal

      In the late Middle Ages and the early modern period humanists rediscovered (as it were) Latin comedy written in the third and second centuries BC by Plautus and Terence.¹ In the Middle Ages, Terence had been known and read as a prose author of dialogues, as can be seen in medieval manuscripts (fig. 21), but from 1500 onwards, humanists started to view his plays as dramatic poetry, and they had them performed in schools and universities. This had to do with the rediscovery in the first half of the fifteenth century of a manuscript of his plays with a commentary...

    • CONTEMPT FOR COMMENTATORS: Transformation of the Commentary Tradition in Daniel Heinsius’ Constitutio tragoediae
      (pp. 325-346)
      Volkhard Wels

      Daniel Heinsius began his lectures on Pindar in 1608 by drawing a sharp contrast between two types of readers: those who can experience the sublimity of Pindar’s verses in the depths of their hearts and souls, and those wretched and pitiable readers who cannot. Heinsius argued that the authority of ancient critics, such as Horace, Quintilian or Dionysius of Halicarnassus, was superfluous, for Pindar’s poetry should elicit an unmediated rapture in anyone appropriately equipped for the reception of art. Whoever does not experience divinely inspired frenzy, whoever is not seized, shaken, lifted up and transported by Pindar’s writing, simply does...

  9. IV. Law

    • TEXT & COMMENTARY: The Legal Middle Ages and the Roman Law Tradition: Justinian’s Const. Omnem and its Medieval Commentators
      (pp. 349-386)
      Willem J. Zwalve

      In the Orthodox Church, December 16 is the feast day of the prophet St. Haggai, who, after the return of the Jewish people from its Babylonian captivity, urged it to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. It is, therefore, no coincidence that the emperor Justinian chose the feast day of St. Haggai to consecrate his own temple, for it was on the 16thof December 533 that he promulgated the most important part of his prestigious legislative program, theDigests,proprium et sanctissimum templum iustitiae.¹ The imperial decree to that purpose,Constitutio Tanta/Dedooken,² has a section that has been misunderstood for...

    • TEXT AND COMMENTARY: Legal Humanism
      (pp. 387-406)
      Bernard H. Stolte

      Traditional scholarship views legal humanism as coming after, and standing in sharp contrast to, the late medieval Commentators. This rather uninspiring name is used for the successors of the Glossators. Alternatively, the name Post-Glossators is used, an even less evocative soubriquet. Why Commentators?

      After five centuries of comparative neglect, the Glossators were the first to once again systematically study the Justinianic legislation. They were themagistriwho made the sixth-century sources accessible to a medieval audience, explaining and cross-referencing the innumerable texts which, on the instruction of Justinian himself, are to be understood as one coherent piece of legislation, consistent...

  10. V. Bible

    • ANIMALISCHE SPRACHE UND INTELLIGENZ IM SCHRIFTKOMMENTAR: Bileams Esel in der Bibelkommentierung des Mittelalters und der Neuzeit
      (pp. 409-444)
      Bernd Roling

      Zu den epochenübergreifenden Textgattungen, die über Jahrhunderte die Transmission von Wissen ermöglichten, gehört das Genre der Bibelkommentare, das vielleicht als einziges Genre von der Spätantike bis in die Frühmoderne kontinuierlich fortbestehen konnte. Mochten sich vom Mittelalter bis zur Neuzeit auch platonische, aristotelische, cartesianische oder mechanistische Weltsichten abgewechselt und durchgesetzt haben, die Textgestalt der Schrift und die mit ihr verbundenen Leitfragen blieben; sie mußten von allen Theologen neu beantwortet werden. Niemand würde leugnen, daß ein Kirchenvater oder ein Exeget des Hochmittelalters die Bibel mit anderen Voraussetzungen las als ein Hermeneut des 18. Jahrhunderts, der die Heilige Schrift in einer Zeit nach...

      (pp. 445-472)
      Henk Nellen

      The seventeenth century was riddled with incessant theological controversies. Viewed with the benefit of hindsight, all these disputes seem like wasted energy. By strengthening disagreement, they could not but lead to more sharply demarcated confessional boundaries. Theologians challenged each other in public meetings and polemical writings, but these were certainly not the only combat zones. Since time immemorial, the Bible had stood in the centre of public debate as the most important and even — according to the Reformers — as a unique source of information for all matters pertaining to dogma, rites and Church organization. Commentaries on the Bible therefore played...

    • PHILOLOGY AND THEOLOGY: Commenting the Old Testament in the Dutch Republic, 1650-1700
      (pp. 473-510)
      Jetze Touber

      Ideally, the Bible needs no comment. In the Calvinist view, the Bible’s transparency (perspicuitas) dictates its interpretation. Unfortunately, in practice almost every verse of the Bible poses some problem: it is either unclear how it should be interpreted, or even which words actually constitute it. In the Dutch Republic in the seventeenth century, the question of how to read and interpret the Bible occasioned fierce debate. In recent years several studies have put these debates in the spotlights.² Among the protagonists of these debates Spinoza has pride of place. His forceful argumentation that the Bible is a historical, not a...

    (pp. 511-514)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 515-524)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 525-526)