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  • Scientia in Margine: Études sur les Marginalia dans les manuscrits scientifiques du Moyen Âge à la Renaissance
  • Darin Hayton
Danielle Jacquart and Charles Burnett, eds. Scientia in Margine: Études sur les Marginalia dans les manuscrits scientifiques du Moyen Âge à la Renaissance. Hautes Études médiévales et modernes 88. Geneva: Librairie Droz S. A., 2005. 404 pp. index. illus. tbls. CHF 72. ISBN: 2-600-01035-1.

Marginalia encompass a wide variety of annotations, from amusing drawings and pictures to extensive glosses and running commentaries. Such annotations [End Page 1275] have long attracted the attention of literary scholars, art historians, and scholars working in the history of reading and book history, all of whom have used them to reconstruct how readers have interacted with and used texts. Although historians of science have not ignored marginalia, they have not consistently exploited this material as fully as they might. The essays in this volume indicate some of the ways historians of science can enrich their work by looking once again at the liminal spaces that frame texts.

One of the questions that continues to exercise historians of science focuses on the transmission of ideas between linguistic and cultural contexts. Marginalia can provide important witnesses to these transmissions and assimilations. Four chapters deal explicitly with this issue. Henri Hugonnard-Roche examines the scholia in a ninth-century Syriac manuscript to uncover the transmission of Aristotle's Organon from Greek antiquity into the Syrian context. The scholia were incorporated into the Peri Hermeneias, probably written in sixth- or seventh-century Antioch, and reveal traces of Ammonius's teaching in third-century Alexandria. Marwan Rashed's essay draws on Greek and Arabic annotations both to illuminate the transmission of Aristotelian logic from the Byzantine to the Arabic context and to shed some light on the mysterious Aristotelian commentator Ilnius. Emilie Savage-Smith has found a fascinating twelfth-century Arabic medical manuscript that contains numerous Latin annotations. She argues persuasively that the text was copied for a European physician in the Crusader states. Tony Lévy traces the annotations in a Hebrew copy of Euclid's Elements back to al-Hajjaj, the famous eighth-century Arab translator and commentator. In each case, by paying close attention to the marginal annotations, some of which were subsequently incorporated into the texts, the authors have uncovered important routes of transmission and intellectual exchange.

Marginalia can also reveal local teaching and reading practices. Wesley Stevens identifies the glosses that were later incorporated into early Latin Euclid manuscripts. He uses them to recover the degree to which geometry was taught in ninth-century schools. Anna Somfai examines a tenth-century gloss on Calcidius's Commentary on Plato's Timaeus. The marginal diagrams and texts were the product of a classroom environment, most probably a school associated with Gerbert of Aurillac or Abbo of Fleury. Marilyn Nicoud uses the marginal annotations in Isaac Judeus's Universal Diets and his Particular Diets to recover the practical teaching that occurred in the medical faculty at the University of Paris in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Dietrich Lohrmann finds the margins of engineering manuscripts filled with drawings and notes of clarification. Although marginalia often remain frustratingly anonymous, they can occasionally be attributed to an author. Irene Caiazzo's essay looks at the reading practices of a number of famous annotators. Focusing on the marginalia in Macrobius's Commentarii in Somnium Scipionis, she finds surprisingly divergent annotations and interests. Robert Goulding turns his attention to Henry Savile's refutation of Joseph Scaliger's squaring of the circle. Goulding argues that Savile's attack, which is spread across [End Page 1276] the margins of his copy of Scaliger's Cyclometrica and two short manuscripts, reveals the emergence of the mathematician as a distinct intellectual and social category, a category that did not admit the more generally trained humanist.

Finally, a number of these essays deal implicitly with the problem of identifying marginalia: two address the problem directly. Brigitte Mondrain's essay opens the collection, offering both a formal analysis of marginalia as well as an analysis of the types of marginal annotations. She concentrates on how types of readers have annotated manuscripts. Adolfo Tura's long...


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