Sir Henry Savile and the perils of editing Chrysostom

The best edition of the works of John Chrysostom (including sermons by Severian of Gabala) remains that made by Sir Henry Savile in the 17th century and published at Eton college where Sir Henry was provost.

On Monday I went into the second-hand bookshop Treasure Chest in Felixstowe in search of something literary to read, and came out with an edition of John Aubrey’s Brief Lives.  This is not a book, so much as a collection of gossip and memoranda in preparation for a book, and contains a section on Sir Henry Savile.

He was very munificent, as appears by the two chairs he had endowed of Astronomy and Geometry. … He had travelled very well, and had a general acquaintance with the learned men abroad; by which means he obtained from beyond sea, out of their libraries, several rare Greek MSS., which he had copied by an excellent amanuensis for the Greek character.

Someone put a trick upon him, for he got a friend to send him weekly over to Flanders (I think), the sheets of the curious Chrysostom that were printed at Eton, and translated them into Latin, and printed them in Greek and Latin together, which quite spoiled the sale of Sir Henry’s.

It would be interesting to know which the pirate edition was.  Savile’s edition was printed without a Latin translation.  Because of this, Migne printed the Montfaucon edition instead, and the Savile edition has remained relatively unknown.

UPDATE: A correspondent writes:

On Savile & the “pirate edition” (of Fronto Ducaeus): The Critical Review, 4th series, vol. 2, pp. 92ff.

The review is a little odd; the Montfaucon edition is said to be inferior to the Savile one by Quasten.  But all very useful!


3 thoughts on “Sir Henry Savile and the perils of editing Chrysostom

  1. I own 2 volumes of saviles 1612 eton edition of the works of St John Chrysostom, it’s fascinating too look at knowing everything the man went through to compile them!

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