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The Catholic Historical Review 89.2 (2003) 282-283

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Gregorio Magno, Vita di san Benedetto, versione greca di papa Zaccaria. Edited by Gianpaolo Rigotti. [Hellenica, 8.] (Alessandria: Edizioni dell'Orso. 2001. Pp. 150. €15 paperback.)

Fruit of a doctorate under the direction of the lamented Italian Byzantinist, Professor Enrica Follieri, this new edition of the Greek translation of the second book of Pope Gregory's Dialogues is a welcome improvement on the printed versions so far available, the main ones being still that of Migne and the 1880 edition by Cozza-Luzi, limited to two manuscripts. Dr. Rigotti meticulously collates all the manuscripts of the Dialogues containing Book II (21 out of 35), generating the stemmatic hypothesis of the existence of two main families of manuscripts, alfa and beta, derived from the original translation into Greek by Pope Zacharias, itself approximately only one century later than the writing of the work itself. The earliest witnesses to the beta family are the famous uncial codex, Vaticanus gr. 1666 (A), perhaps written in Rome in A.D. 800, together with a ninth-century Patmian codex, Patm. gr. 48, perhaps from Southern Italy. One might infer from details such as preferred name-forms that the beta family carries a Southern Italian recension of the text, whilst the alpha family bears the Eastern Greek version, the earliest witnesses to which are two tenth-century Athonite codices, Kutloumousiou 51 (E) and Vatopedi 127 (I). Nevertheless, the lessons preferred by one cultural group traveled across the Mediterranean: the most recent exponent of the beta family is thus Florence, Laurent. gr. Conv. Soppr. AF 2744, copied in 1367-8 at the Constantinopolitan monastery "twn 'Odhgwn." The diagram of the stemma on page XLI does not always accurately reflect the dating of the witnesses; so care must be employed in assuming the age of the codices by resorting to the century-indicator in the left margin. Given that Dr. Rigotti even traveled to Athos to inspect firsthand all of the manuscripts there, one particularly regrets his decision to adopt the briefest possible descriptions of the codices in the introduction, as well as the absence of plates.

The text itself is paralleled by the Latin original as reconstructed in the recent edition by Adalbert de Vogüé, printed as "Sources chrétiennes," 260 (Paris, 1979). The rare erudition of presenting a facing Greek and Latin text without any translation or commentary notes does, in our age, raise the question of the breadth of readership that might usefully approach the book. It is, nevertheless, a blessing for those interested either in the dynamics of translation from a linguistic viewpoint, or in the subtleties of conceptual and cultural translations, to have such an important text neatly laid out in this convenient parallel-column [End Page 282] format. Rigotti's index of Latin words and their translation, which precedes an index graecitatis, will greatly assist both the linguist and the cultural historian.

The study of the parallel text promises to offer new insights into the intersection of the Latin and Greek spiritual worlds at a time when each was still keen to talk to the other. While scholars of Western monasticism argue over the attribution of the Dialogues to Gregory, it is reassuring to find the Greeks had no doubts that it was this pope's words they still cared to listen to. The other books of the Dialogues should also appear in this Italian series.


Barbara Crostini
University of Manchester



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