La vie d'Étienne le Jeune par Étienne le Diacre. Introduction, édition et traductionby Marie-France Auzépy (review)
- The Catholic Historical Review
- The Catholic University of America Press
- Volume 84, Number 4, October 1998
- pp. 731-732
- View Citation
- Additional Information
book reviews731 so far as possible. One of their sources, Bishop Martin of Braga, observed ca. 633: "But since it is difficult for something to be translated sufficiently clearly from one language to another . . . certain things in those canons thus appear obscure to the unlearned" (p. 53). This passage fairly describes a problem that surfaces occasionally in these translations. Somerville and Brasington have taken considerable pains to situate the prefaces they translate within the context of developments in legal thought from late antiquity to the mid-thirteenth century, and on the whole they have succeeded rather well. One minor lapse in this department may be worth mentioning . Two authors in this collection, Ivo of Chartres and Master Rolandus, refer in their prefaces to a legal axiom called the principle of Modestinus. Modestinus , a classical Roman jurist, defined the limits of law's power by asserting that laws can do only four things: they can command, forbid, allow, or punish human actions (Digest 1.3.7). Both Ivo and Rolandus paraphrased this principle in their prefaces, which suggests that they were familiar with the Digest text. The translators, unfortunately, fail to mention this. But these minor criticisms should not obscure the value of this learned and useful book, which for the first time assembles a body of canonistic prefaces, presents them in an accessible form, and provides students of medieval canonical thought with a valuable new resource for study and teaching. James A. Brundage University ofKansas La vie d'Etienne lefeune par Etienne le Diacre. Introduction, édition et traduction . By Marie-France Auzépy. [Birmingham Byzantine and Ottoman Monographs. Volume 3·] (Brookfield,Vermont:Variorium,Ashgate Publishing Co. 1997. Pp. x, 357. $72.95.) Like so many texts, this Life of St. Stephen theYounger has to be read at more than one level, a skill that requires considerable scholarly help. On the surface it looks like a laudatory account, written probably in 809 by a high-ranking deacon of the Great Church of Constantinople, describing the life and passion of a monk, Stephen, lynched by the mob forty years earlier at the instigation of the iconoclast Emperor, Constantine V. Stephen is presented as a man of great spiritual standing and horrifying asceticism. Do we have here one of the rare hagiographie texts that permit an insight into the reality of life while iconoclasm was at its height? Fortunately, the French scholar responsible for this edition is above all a historian : she has an unrivaled knowledge of both the Greek and Latin sources on the period, and has already published several key studies on the iconoclast movement. In this publication she demonstrates both that the text has a clear propaganda role in the wider context of political events, and that it is itself con- 732book reviews structed, rather like a patch-work quilt, from snippets of earlier lives (notably by Andrew of Crete and Cyril of Scythopolis) along with many extracts from the conciliarActa (Nicaea II). For the first time one can study this fascinating Life in all its complexity. The task facing any historian of this period lies in the proper evaluation of the contemporary chronicles: these were written by ecclesiastical authors, partisans ofthe victorious iconophiles.When this Life was commissioned the iconoclasts had suffered a crushing defeat, but the Patriarch, Nikephoros, surely the outstanding personality in the history of the Church at this time,was aware that below the surface simmered a violent dislike of the innovative icon-worship then being imposed, and a nostalgic attachment to the former imperial house of the Isaurians. A reaction must have seemed an imminent danger, and in a few years became a grim reality with the second phase of iconoclasm. This volume is a mine of information for the historian, but also a delight for the philologist. The complicated manuscript tradition is carefully handled, and constantly illuminated with intelligent insights and a wealth of erudition. A minor complaint is that the negative apparatus does not allow one to be sure when all ten manuscripts are testifying (both B and E have serious lacunae): a one-line reference to the witnesses for each page would have been helpful. The main aspect not touched upon is...