May 20th, 2013 by Roger Pearse
I stumbled across the following sketch here. It shows Old St Peters (left). On the right is the wall that leads even today to the Castell Sant’Angelo, so the viewpoint is more or less that of every modern photograph of St Peters.
From this, it is easy to see why the old basilica was not impressive enough for the renaissance popes. It reminds one rather of the church of the holy tomb in Jerusalem.
May 18th, 2013 by Roger Pearse
Anthony Alcock continues working on this late Coptic text. Part 4, of 5, is here:
May 16th, 2013 by Roger Pearse
I have now completed my review of this book. My thanks to Wipf and Stock for sending me a review copy. Of course I write as an interested amateur, not a professional scholar, so my opinions are those of an educated layman.
The review may be found here (PDF):
May 14th, 2013 by Roger Pearse
Spent the evening labouring over a book review. This item must have cost me several evenings work. At least I have now got through to the end of it. But I shall reread it in a couple of days time. Always good to judge the tone first!
It will be a good while before I agree to review anything again.
May 13th, 2013 by Roger Pearse
Scribonius Largus was a physician in the time of Claudius. He was the author of a collection of medical recipes, written in 47-48 A.D.
The work begins with a preface; then there is an index; and then the recipes.
At the end of the preface, Largus writes:
Primum ergo ad quae vitia compositiones exquisitae et aptae sint, subiecimus et numeris notavimus, quo facilius quod quaeretur inveniatur. Deinde medicamentorum, quibus compositiones constant, nomina et pondera vitiis subiunximus.
So firstly, the illnesses for which medicines are sought-for and found, we have subjoined and numbered, so that the seeker may find more easily. Then we have subjoined the names and amounts of the medicaments which the medicines for illnesses consist of.
The second list has not been preserved, but these words are followed in the edition by a list of illnesses, and for each a numeral.
What this demonstrates is that the concept of producing a numbered table of contents did exist in the time of Claudius, and, therefore, probably earlier.
May 13th, 2013 by Roger Pearse
I need to do some further research on chapter titles in ancient texts, and whether they are authorial. A correspondent has drawn my attention to Bianca-Jeanette Schroder’s Titel und Text: Zur Entwicklung lateinischer Gedichtüberschriften. Mit Untersuchungen zu lateinischen Buchtiteln, Inhaltsverzeichnissen und anderen Gliederungsmitteln (De Gruyter, 1999, 349 pages). It retails for the eye-watering sum of 160 euros; around $240, which is ridiculous. An abstract is here, and in English here at the Google Books preview:
How old are the manuscript titles of Latin poems from Antiquity and Late Antiquity? Why were they written, and who created them? With these questions, the author enters virgin philological territory. Her interest is directed at the organisation of ancient texts.She shows that, contrary to conventional wisdom, the headings which subdivide poetry collections and provide preliminary information for the reader were not invented by medieval scribes or early modern editors; their development can in fact be traced back to Classical and Late Antiquity. The headings in collections of Latin poetry handed down through medieval mss. (incl. Horace, Ovid, Martial, Commodian, Ausonius, Luxurius) are partly authentic, and were partly added in late Classical Antiquity. In their function and linguistic form, they can be compared with book titles and other structural textual devices such as tables of contents and chapter headings. The present study also deals with the development of these devices, which are important for the history of books and of reading habits.
I have ordered a copy of this via interlibrary loan, not very hopefully. It will probably take weeks for the sleepy civil servants to bestir themselves. But at the price given, who can afford to buy a copy?
May 10th, 2013 by Roger Pearse
Through the kindness of Pierre Petitmengin, a copy of the Chronica Tertullianea et Cyprianea 2011 has reached me. This bibliography of Latin patristic materials before Nicaea, with short reviews, is published in the Revue d’etudes augustiniennes, which, I learn, has now become the Revue d’etudes augustiniennes et patristiques.
So, what was published in the last year, and what do we make of it? I shall concentrate on Tertullian material.
The review opens with 4 Italian and 1 Spanish editions of works of Tertullian. These are all based on existing texts with minor modifications and translations. In truth something of the kind is published every year, and it seems unlikely that any of these editions require any special attention from us.
The new Reallexikon project, Bd. 24, p/189-191 includes an article on Minucius Felix by Christoph Schubert. The reviewer comments slightly wearily that every article on this author tends to be similar to every other article, since the subject has been thrashed to death from every possible angle. This one is particularly clear and up-to-date on every point, however.
A volume has appeared, collecting the fragments of the medical writer Soranus, much of it from Tertullian.
There is a proposal by Carmelo Conticello to make an inventory of all the Latin Christian texts that were translated into Greek, from the 2nd to the 15th century; a subject never systematically explored. A set of examples has appeared.
Most of the remainder of the 81 articles reviewed seemed dispensable. Looking at them, I found very little that I thought worth my time to read, and much that seemed not worth the trouble of writing. The latter was the case particularly for material written in English. I read, from time to time, of the litter of substandard journal publications. Here we see clear signs of it, exhausting the patience of reader and reviewer alike.
May 9th, 2013 by Roger Pearse
I mentioned a little while ago how a Canadian episcopal bishop named Michael Bird, fervent in promoting non-Christian causes such as homosexuality in his unfortunate church, zealous in suing his congregations for daring to disapprove, seizing their property and closing the doors, is now suing a blogger who dared to criticise and satirise him, the Anglican Samizdat blog. Few will endorse attempts by bishops to silence bloggers. Sadly we live in an era when bishops endorse vice and harass virtue.
This evening I was browsing Anthony Grafton’s Forgers and Critics, and found mention of a work by Erasmus, Julius Excluded From Heaven. An English translation is online here.
Pope Julius II was not a respectable person. He was the kind of self-serving scoundrel who ignores the interests of the church he heads, instead concentrating on increasing his own wealth and power. Such ‘Popes’ were the direct cause of the Reformation.
Erasmus’ witty remarks will strike more than a few as apposite for Bishop Michael Bird, since he seems to keen on turning churches into money and silencing critics by litigation. Indeed they will apply, to a greater or lesser extent, to every worldly prelate. Here are a couple of snippets:
PETER: Fine! but let’s go back a ways: you are the nephew of Sixtus.
JULIUS: Glad to confirm it; I’d like to stop the mouths of those who say I’m his son. That’s slanderous.
PETER: Slanderous indeed-unless perhaps it’s true.
JULIUS: It’s an insult to papal dignity, which must always be protected.
PETER: But I think popes should protect their own dignity by not doing anything offensive to the moral law.
PETER: So the court of Rome is to be, as it were, the treasure chest of the whole world?
JULIUS: Is it such a great matter if we collect all their carnal wealth, seeing we spread our spiritual gifts far and wide?
PETER: What spiritual gifts are you talking about? Up to now I’ve heard only about worldly things. No doubt you attract men to Christ by preaching his holy word?
JULIUS: There are people who preach it, and I don’t prevent them, as long as they don’t in any way question my authority.
The litigious bishop is always a figure of fun. Perhaps we need a new Erasmus!
May 9th, 2013 by Roger Pearse
The Meta Sudans was a fountain in Rome on the Appian Way, just inside the Arch of Constantine. Its remains were demolished by Mussolini to make way for a road. In old photographs it is usually photographed from the Arch of Titus, which makes it look more complete than it was. Today I found online another photograph from the other side here.
Today only foundations remain. I took care to look for them on my recent visit to Rome. There is a circle in the grassy area in front of the Arch of Constantine.
May 7th, 2013 by Roger Pearse
Anthony Alcock continues his translation of the late medieval Coptic text which reads symbolism into the letters of the Greek alphabet. Part 3 (of 5) is now available!
See also part 1 and part 2.
I’m sure that all of us are grateful to Dr Alcock for making this text available to us all. This is wonderful stuff!