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  • Tous vos gens à Latin: Le latin, langue savante, langue mondaine (XIVe-XVIIe siècles). Études réunies et édité es par Emmanuel Bury
  • Terence Tunberg
Emmanuel Bury , ed. Tous vos gens à Latin: Le latin, langue savante, langue mondaine (XIVe-XVIIe siècles). Études réunies et édité es par Emmanuel Bury. Travaux d' Humanisme et Renaissance, 155. Geneva: Librairie Droz S. A., 2005. 464 pp. index. illus. tbls. bibl. $126. ISBN: 2-600-00975-2.

This wide-ranging volume is made up of papers presented at a conference held in 2000 at the École Normale Supérieure. It is designed to elucidate various aspects of Latin as Europe's linguistic vehicle for learned discourse from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries: yet the book is not exclusively devoted to the major monuments of Neo-Latin writing in the republic of letters and in the natural and mathematical sciences.

Of course important individuals and Latin works are the subject of several contributions. Pierre Lardet offers an analysis of Iulius Caesar Scaliger's De causis linguae Latinae, a grammatical treatise with a philosophical perspective published in 1540. Alexandre Vanautgaerden provides an overview of the Latin literary output of John Froben, the printer who published so many works of Erasmus. Erasmus himself is the subject of Jean-François Cottier, whose very interesting contribution argues that for Erasmus Latin became a medium for popularizing knowledge of holy scripture, this being most evident in Erasmus's famous New Testament paraphrases. Dominique De Courcelles offers an assessment of the major works of Juan Ginés de Sepúlveda (1490-1573), whose literary vehicle was an elegant Latin at a time when other major writers in the Iberian region were soon to turn to Castilian as their means of expression. Though Sepúlveda wrote extensively about the Americas, the essay by Geneviève Demerson focuses not on Sepúlveda, but on other Latin works on the New World. Demerson gives us a glimpse of how certain authors, especially Peter Martyr, exploited the resources of Neo-Latin to make the European penetration of the Americas, and the features of [End Page 1251] these new lands, intelligible to European readers. Latin was also a medium for describing new foods, drugs, and diseases, sometimes in poetic form, as is evident in Yasmin Haskell's account of the poem about chocolate by the Neapolitan Jesuit Tommaso Strozzi published in 1689. Haskell argues that Latin allowed the author to speak openly about bodily symptoms and functions that would have been more difficult to treat with decorum in the vernacular. Latin was also the primary vehicle for works written on the philosophy of beauty and love in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. These have a starting point in the De Amore of Marsilio Ficino, as we learn from Laurence Boulègue.

Several contributions are devoted to the use of Latin in nonverbal disciplines. Etienne Wolff discusses the output of the mathematician Girolamo Cardano (1501-76), which is largely in Latin and elucidates Cardano's views on Latin as a language. Ludivine Goupilland focuses on another mathematician who employed Latin, Pierre de Fermat (1601-65). From Joëlle Ducos we learn something about the Latin vocabulary used by scholastic philosophers to discuss meteorology during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

Other articles variously elucidate interactions between Latin and the vernacular languages. Hélène Cazes compares two works on anatomy by Charles Estienne, one in French and the other in Latin: the French text was perhaps aimed at a somewhat wider audience. As we might expect, the history of encyclopedias written in Latin and French from the thirteenth to the eighteenth centuries shows, according to Jean-Marc Mandosio, that the use of Latin sharply declined after the seventeenth century. Claire Lecointre describes how the grammar of the German language was born in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, at first in the explanatory and conceptual framework of Latin as a metalanguage, but then in a framework that would later compel grammarians to account for phenomena outside the Latin-Greek nexus. As the analysis of Martine Furno suggests, Latin dictionaries composed in France from the sixteenth to the end of...


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Archived 2009
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