Catalogus Translationum et Commenatariorum: Mediaeval and Renaissance Latin Translations and Commentaries, Volume IX

Catalogus Translationum et Commenatariorum: Mediaeval and Renaissance Latin Translations and Commentaries, Volume IX

by Virginia Brown, James Hankins, Robert A. Kaster

In publication since 1960 and now in its ninth volume, the Catalogus Translationum et Commentariorum furnishes concrete evidence of when, where, and how an ancient author was known and appreciated in monastic, university, and humanist circles. Each article presents a historical survey of the influence and circulation of a particular author down to the present,


In publication since 1960 and now in its ninth volume, the Catalogus Translationum et Commentariorum furnishes concrete evidence of when, where, and how an ancient author was known and appreciated in monastic, university, and humanist circles. Each article presents a historical survey of the influence and circulation of a particular author down to the present, followed by an exhaustive listing and brief description of Latin commentaries before 1600 on each of his works. For Greek authors, a full listing of pre-1600 translations into Latin is also provided. Sources of translations and commentaries include both printed editions and texts available only in medieval and Renaissance manuscripts.

In the newest addition to the series, Volume IX, four authors are treated in separate articles: Epictetus, Gregorius Turonensis, Plinius Caecilius Secundus, and Propertius. The articles present four fascinating authors whose literary impact is extensive.

As one of the three major representatives of the so-called New Stoa, Epictetus captures in his works the main ethical ideas of ancient Stoicism. Pliny the Younger's letters were well known during the Middle Ages and repeatedly quoted and commented upon during the Renaissance. Propertius and the genre of Roman love-elegy inspired a vast number of humanist poets, from Petrarch and Aeneas Silvius Piccolomini to Panormita, Pontano, and Marullo. Finally, the roster of works left by Gregory of Tours reveals an author of wide interests in history, hagiography, biblical exegesis, and astronomy. Gregory's history of the Franks and books of miracles were quarried for material throughout the Middle Ages by other historians, as well as canonists and preachers. A list of addenda and corrigenda to four previously published articles (Ps. Cebes, Pomponius Mela, Silius Italicus, Solinus) concludes the volume.

Virginia Brown was professor of Latin palaeography at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto. She died in the final stages of the preparation of this volume. Though most of the credit for preparing the present volume belongs to Professor Brown, it was seen through the press thanks to the efforts of the CTC's new editor in chief, Greti Dinkova-Bruun, associate fellow at the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, with the help of the associate editors James Hankins, professor of history at Harvard University, and Robert A. Kaster, Kennedy Foundation Professor of Latin Language and Literature at Princeton University. Contributors to the volume include Gerard J. Boter, Lucia A. Ciapponi, John J. Contreni, Mary Ella Milham, Frances Muecke, and †Douglas F. S. Thomson.

"As were its predecessors, this is a tremendously impressive and important work. All four of the main articles, Boter on Epictetus, Contreni on Gregory of Tours, Ciapponi on Pliny the Younger, and Thomson on Propertius, come up to the high standards of CTC articles. Virginia Brown and her co-editors have done an excellent job in maintaining the quality of this series."—John Monfasani, Professor of History, SUNY Albany

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The general aims of the Catalogus Translationum et Commentariorum are explained in the Preface to Volume I, by Paul Oskar Kristeller, which is reprinted below.

As in past volumes, the articles in Volume 9 have not been chosen to illustrate any particular theme, but are simply the first contributions completed after Volume 8 went to press. The proportion of Latin articles (three) as opposed to Greek (one) is similar to that in Volumes 3–6. Although quite different fields (philosophy, history, and literature) are represented, a common theme of moral improvement has nevertheless emerged, by accident rather than design, rendering most of the articles complementary and, indeed, still relevant to the concerns of our own day, as they were to those of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.

* * *

The sole article in the Greek section of Volume 9 treats Epictetus (ca. 50–125/130 A.D.), one of the chief sources for Stoic teachings in the Roman imperial period. His two surviving works, the Dissertationes and the Encheiridion, were preserved thanks to the devotion of his student Arrian and show that Epictetus' concern was principally with Stoic ethics. For Epictetus the goal of philosophy was the attainment of freedom and happiness through a kind of moral and intellectual discipline which taught the philosopher to attach importance only to those things under his control. His thought had wide appeal not only in his own time, for figures such as Marcus Aurelius, but also in later centuries. Not surprisingly, Epictetus was a well-known figure among both pagan and Christian writers in late antiquity, though much less so in the Latin West after the fifth century. Italian humanists revived interest in Epictetus in the Latin world and produced two fifteeenth-century translations of the Encheiridion. The latter soon became a popular text in Angelo Poliziano's rendition and remained so until the publication of Hieronymus Wolf's version in 1563. An Italian humanist also prepared the first extant translation, made ca. 1500, of the Dissertationes. Then interest in translating Epictetus' works shifted to northern Europe, where a Neo-Stoic movement flourished during the later sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, especially among Protestant scholars in France, Germany, and the Dutch Republic. The sixteenth-century translations that have been located were all produced by scholars from those regions. They are responsible as well for the known commentaries on the Epictetan corpus. The Encheiridion attracted the first commentary (1543), to be followed shortly thereafter (1554) by the first commentary on the Dissertationes. Epictetus' writings were an important element in seventeenth-century Christian interpretations of Stoicism and continued to be of interest for a variety of reasons; in our own times they have even provided themes for modern novels and inspiration for modern theories of practical psychology.

In the Latin section, Gregory, bishop of Tours, is the first author to be treated but the latest (538 or 539–594) in terms of chronology. Of the seven works which he wrote or commissioned, the historical and hagiographical compositions were the most influential. His Decem libri historiarum is a principal source for the history of sixth-century Francia. His Libri octo miraculorum, together with his other hagiographical pieces, helped to shape that genre in the Middle Ages. Moreover, many authors excerpted and adapted passages from his writings for their own purposes. Hence selections from Gregory's works can be found not only in later historical writings but also in texts concerned with canon law, preaching, and theology. However, despite their popularity, his historical and hagiographical writings were never the subject of commentary; they were regarded primarily as sources of information rather than models of thought and expression, and therefore as texts that did not repay study in the classroom. Nor did his other, much less popular works (the De cursu stellarum ratio and a now-fragmentary exposition of the Psalms) attract the attention of commentators. Continuing the predominant practice of the manuscript age, Gregory first appeared in print in the form of excerpts, with the publication of passages from the Historiae and the Libri octo miraculorum in the 1511 Paris edition of the Martinellus, a dossier of medieval texts concerning St. Martin of Tours. The editio princeps of the complete text of the Historiae followed a year later at Paris. Generally speaking, from that time on, the Historiae have overshadowed Gregory's other works until the last quarter of the twentieth century, when new perspectives shifted scholarly attention to his hagiographical writings.

Proceeding in reverse chronological order, we come next to the article on Pliny the Younger (61 or 62–before 114). His extant works, the Epistulae in ten books and the Panegyricus dictus Traiano Imperatori, belong to different genres and have different histories of textual transmission and publication. Neither, however, was cited frequently in antiquity or during the Middle Ages, though the Epistulae were somewhat better known than the Panegyricus, and the latter served as a model for similar compositions in the Latin schools of the later Roman Empire. During the fourteenth century some early French and Italian humanists were aware of the Epistulae. The discovery of more manuscripts in the fifteenth century and subsequent copying of these older witnesses resulted in a complex tradition involving three main families, even as further letters were found and added to the corpus. With Giovanni Aurispa's discovery in 1433 at Mainz of a manuscript containing the twelve Panegyrici veteres, Pliny's Panegyricus, too, became known in the world of humanist scholarship. First editions of the Epistulae and Panegyricus appeared in 1471 (Venice) and ca. 1482 (Milan) respectively, and in 1506 Giovanni Maria Cattaneo published at Milan the first commentary on both works. His emphasis on their usefulness as models of virtue to be imitated by everyone (especially, in the case of the Panegyricus, by princes and officials) and their value as examples of a pleasing style and sources of antiquarian information are themes that often recur in succeeding commentaries. Surprisingly, Cattaneo remained the only Italian commentator; thereafter the commentary tradition of Pliny's works, like their publishing history, is found north of the Alps.

Propertius (first century B.C.) is the subject of the last article in the Latin section. The first three books of his Elegies chart the course of his love for Cynthia; in book 4, when his passion fades, more elevated themes become dominant. Propertius' influence in the ancient world was considerable, especially on his contemporary Ovid, and he continued to be read outside Italy down to the Late Antique period. Evidence for Carolingian knowledge of his poems is very slight. The two oldest witnesses to the Elegies were copied in northern France during the first half of the thirteenth century, and Petrarch also owned a manuscript, now apparently lost. Copies of Propertius' poems proliferated in Italy during the fifteenth century as did interest in the poet himself. A school of Propertian poetry, led by Cristoforo Landino and his pupils, emerged in the second half of the Quattrocento. Academic study of Propertius, however, was at its most intense in Rome. Of the ten commentaries and sets of notes produced by Italian humanists before 1500, four can be connected with the circle of Pomponio Leto in Rome and one with a humanist teacher in Perugia—evidence that Propertius was being read in at least some schools—although the oldest was the autograph notes of the Neapolitan humanist and Neo-Latin poet Giovanni Gioviano Pontano, dated 1460. Francesco Pucci, however, a member of Pontano's academy, wrote the last commentary (1502) by an Italian before 1600; the remaining seven commentaries are the work of humanists from France, Belgium, and Holland. Despite the general recognition that Propertius is not an easy author to read, despite the corrupt state of the textual tradition, his often obscure thought, violent transitions, and extensive mythological allusions, his poems have inspired admiration and imitation from the Renaissance to our own times. Attesting to the enduring appeal of the Elegies is the poetry of Ezra Pound, Robert Lowell, and Christopher Middleton.

Finally, Volume 9 contains addenda et corrigenda on ps. Cebes, Pomponius Mela, Silius Italicus, and Solinus. In every instance the original articles are brought up to date by the inclusion of new bibliography and new manuscript material.

* * *

It is both a pleasure and a privilege to thank those whose help has made possible the publication of Volume 9. First and foremost, we extend our deep gratitude to the contributors. Their herculean efforts to produce articles of lasting value are truly appreciated.

Next we thank the Section Editors and other appraisers who have given generously of their time and expertise by reading the articles carefully and offering helpful suggestions.

We remain grateful for the support of the Union Académique International, under whose auspices the Catalogus is published. The following organizations have provided heartening encouragement: in North America, the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Philological Association, the Medieval Academy of America, the Modern Language Association of America, and the Renaissance Society of America; in Europe, the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, the Bayerische Akademie der Wissenschaften, the British Academy, and the Unione Accademica Nazionale. Prof. David J. McGonagle, present director, has continued the unwavering support of The Catholic University of America Press. We have been honored by the grant of a publication subvention from the Loeb Classical Liberary Foundation and thank the Trustees warmly for their gracious consideration of our request.

Special thanks are owed to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which has generously provided funds for editorial assistance and the research costs incurred by contributors. This financial support has also enabled us to produce an electronic version of Volumes 1–6 that is available through the Humanities E-Book project of the American Council of Learned Societies.

Librarians throughout the world constantly render assistance that is indispensable for the success of our project, and we thank them most warmly for providing various kinds of reproductions and answering numerous questions about their holdings. Further instances of special help are acknowledged in the individual articles.

Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto July 2008

For the Executive Committee †Virginia Brown


When this ninth volume of the Catalogus Translationum et Commentariorium was in the final stages of preparation for the press, the Editor in Chief of the project, Professor Virginia Brown, contracted a fatal cancer and died shortly thereafter, on July 4, 2009. Professor Brown had been a member of the CTC's Editorial Board (1977–79), a member of the Executive Committee since 1979, and Editor in Chief since 1985. Volume X of the publication will be dedicated to her memory in gratitude for her distinguished service. Though most of the credit for preparing the present volume belongs to Professor Brown, it was seen through the press thanks to the efforts of the CTC's new Editor in Chief, Dr. Greti Dinkova-Bruun, with the help of the Associate Editors.

May 2010

James Hankins Robert A. Kaster Associate Editors


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