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Reviewed by:
  • Adagiorum chilias secunda
  • Jeanine De Landtsheer
Desiderius Erasmus . Adagiorum chilias secunda. Vol. 2.3 of Opera Omnia. Ed. M. Szymański. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science, 2005. x + 528 pp. index. illus. $200. ISBN: 0-444-51638-7.

In the course of the 1980s, Felix Heinimann and Emanuel Kienzele published the first parts of the ordo secundus of the critical edition of Erasmus's works (the Amsterdam or ASD), Erasmus's Adagia, namely, the third chilias (numbers 2,001-3,000), and the second half of the second chilias (1,501-2,000). Just last year, about twenty-five years later, the final parts of this ordo secundus have come from the press. Part 2.9, edited by Felix Heinimann, contains the Collectanea, a collection of 823 proverbs with a short commentary (published in 1500 and again in 1506), which can be considered as a finger exercise for the magnum opus, put to press for the first time now almost 500 years ago by Aldus Manutius during Erasmus's stay in Venice. Volume 2.3, the other part which appeared in 2005, is [End Page 1248] edited by M. Szyma|$$|Aanski and contains the first half of the second chilias, numbers 1,001-1,500, opening with one of the best-known adagia, often printed separately either in Latin or in a vernacular language: the essay-like Festina lente (Make haste slowly). Other, somewhat longer and rather famous, proverbs, by which our perception of the humanist's political and social ideas is increased, are numbers 1,140, Ollas ostentare (To make a display of pots), 1,248, Homo bulla (Man is but a bubble), and, not least, 1,401, Spartam nactus es, hanc orna (Sparta is your portion, do your best for her), often quoted in humanist correspondence of the Renaissance and early Baroque.

Editor Szyma|$$|Aanski, who was helped by M. J. van Poll, follows, of course, the model set by his predecessors with Erasmus's text mainly on the even pages, followed on the uneven pages by an apparatus criticus and some brief annotations. Erasmus's text is very carefully edited, with hardly any typos, not even in the Greek. In his annotations Szyma|$$|Aanski skillfully identifies almost all of Erasmus's classical sources, frequently pointing out variant readings compared to the text as it is presently read, which often allows him to identify the edition Erasmus must have known. Occasionally, mistakes in the attributions are corrected or explained as well. The humanist's choice of Greek idioms, his translations of Greek sources into Latin, and, in numerous cases, the meters used in these translations are discussed too, and references to historical personages or events are briefly explained, with sometimes a word about Erasmus's specific source when variant versions are known. And, of course, the reader is referred to earlier possible occurrences of the proverb in the aforementioned Collectanea (ASD 2.9), to further occurrences of the proverb in Erasmus's works, and to similar Adagia gathered either by Erasmus or in other humanist collections.

In these annotations Szyma|$$|Aanski proves to be familiar, not only with the classical sources and the fathers — which are now far more easily, electronically accessible than in the time of the "founding fathers" Heinimann and Kienzele — he also shows an impressive knowledge of Scholia collections, medieval lexica, and other Renaissance cornucopias of Adagia and shows his familiarity with a considerable part of Erasmus's oeuvre. Occasionally the editor also expounds on extensions in later editions of the Adagia or he refers to other writings of Erasmus where similar topics are touched upon. For instance, in Adagium 1,498 (2.5.98), there is an excursion on Erasmus's attitude towards monks, referring to passages in the Encomium Moriae (missing here are the colloquium Funus and, about the Franciscans in particular, the Colloquia Concio sive Medardus and Exequiae Seraphicae) and with further references to the topos in literature from the late Middle Ages to the late (Polish) Baroque. As was the case in the other parts, the user is helped by a concordance of the numbering of Adagia, an index of Latin and of Greek Adagia, and an Index nominum.

Jeanine De...


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