The Ohio State University Press

Text and Context

Edited by Frank Coulson

Published by: The Ohio State University Press

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Antiquarian Voices

The Roman Academy and the Commentary Tradition on Ovid's Fasti

written by Angela Fritsen

Ovid’s Fasti, his poem on the Roman calendar, became especially influential during the fifteenth century as a guide to classical Roman culture. Ovid’s treatment of mythological and astronomical lore, his investigation of anniversaries and customs, and his charting of monuments and history offered humanist poets and intellectuals an abundance of material to unravel. They could identify with Ovid as vates operosus, or hard-working seer–poet, suggesting both researcher and inspired authority. Angela Fritsen’s Antiquarian Voices: The Roman Academy and the Commentary Tradition on Ovid’s Fasti offers the first study of the Renaissance exegesis and imitation of Ovid as antiquarian. Fritsen analyzes the Fasti commentaries by Paolo Marsi (1440–1484) and Antonio Costanzi (1436–1490) as well as the connections between the two works. It situates Ovidian Fasti studies in the Roman Academy under the mentorship of Pomponio Leto. Nowhere could the investigation of the Fasti be carried out better than in Rome. The humanists had a guide to the City in Ovid. They also regarded the Fasti as well suited to the ideology of the ancient Roman imperium’s renewal in modern papal Rome. Antiquarian Voices illustrates how in reviving the Fasti, the humanists returned Rome to its original splendor. The book demonstrates that the humanists were eager to relate the Fasti to their antiquarian pursuits—as well as to their rising personal fame.

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Classroom Commentaries

Teaching the Poetria nova across Medieval and Renaissance Europe

With an unusually broad scope encompassing how Europeans taught and learned reading and writing at all levels, Classroom Commentaries: Teaching the Poetria nova across Medieval and Renaissance Europe provides a synoptic picture of medieval and early modern instruction in rhetoric, poetics, and composition theory and practice. As Marjorie Curry Woods convincingly argues, the decision of Geoffrey of Vinsauf (fl. 1200) to write his rhetorical treatise in verse resulted in a unique combination of rhetorical doctrine, poetic examples, and creative exercises that proved malleable enough to inspire teachers for three centuries. Based on decades of research, this book excerpts, translates, and analyzes teachers’ notes and commentaries in the more than two hundred extant manuscripts of the text. We learn the reasons for the popularity of the Poetria nova among medieval and early Renaissance teachers, how prose as well as verse genres were taught, why the Poetria nova was a required text in central European universities, its attractions for early modern scholars and historians, and how we might still learn from it today. Woods’s monumental achievement will allow modern scholars to see the Poetria nova as earlier Europeans did: a witty and perennially popular text central to the experience of almost every student.

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Collections in Context

The Organization of Knowledge and Community in Europe

Edited by Karen Fresco and Anne D. Hedeman

The fourteen essays that comprise Collections in Context: The Organization of Knowledge and Community in Europe interrogate questions posed by French, Flemish, English, and Italian collections of all sorts—libraries as a whole, anthologies and miscellanies assembled within a single manuscript or printed book, and even illustrated ivory boxes. Collecting became an increasingly important activity during the fourteenth through seventeenth centuries, when the decreased cost of producing books made ownership available to more people. But the act of collecting is never neutral: it gathers information, orders material (especially linear texts), and prioritizes everything—in short, collecting both organizes and comments on knowledge. Moreover, the context of a collection must reveal something about identity, but whose? That of the compiler? The reader or viewer? The donor? The patron? With essays by a wide array of international scholars, Collections in Context demonstrates that the very act of collecting inevitably imposes some kind of relationship among what might otherwise be naively thought of as disparate elements and simultaneously exposes something about the community that created and used the collection. Thus, Collections in Context offers unusual insights into how collecting both produced knowledge and built community in early modern Europe.

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The Community of St. Cuthbert in the Late Tenth Century

The Chester-le-Street Additions to Durham Cathedral Library A.IV.19

The Community of St. Cuthbert in the Late Tenth Century: The Chester-le-Street Additions to Durham Cathedral Library A.IV.19 reveals the dynamic role a seemingly marginalized community played during a defining period for the emergence of English religious identity. Based on her new critical edition of additions made to Durham Cathedral Library A.IV.19 and by questioning the purpose of those late tenth-century additions, Karen Louise Jolly is able to uncover much about the Chester-le-Street scribes and their tumultuous time, rife as it was with various political tensions, from Vikings and local Northumbrian nobles to an increasingly dominant West Saxon monarchy. Why, for instance, would a priest laboriously insert an Old English gloss above every Latin word in a collection of prayers intended to be performed in Latin? What motivated the same English scribe to include Irish-derived Christian materials in the manuscript, including prayers invoking the archangel Panchiel to clear birds from a field? Jolly’s extensive contextual analysis includes a biography of Aldred, the priest and provost of the community primarily responsible for adding these unusual texts. Besides reinterpreting the manuscript's paleography and codicology, she investigates both the drive for reform evidenced by the added liturgical materials and the new importance of Irish-derived encyclopedic and educational materials.

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Reading Ovid in Medieval Wales

Reading Ovid in Medieval Wales provides the first complete edition and discussion of the earliest surviving fragment of Ovid’s Ars amatoria, or The Art of Love, which derives from ninth-century Wales; the manuscript, which is preserved in Oxford, is heavily glossed mainly in Latin but also in Old Welsh. This study, by Classical and Celtic scholar Paul Russell, discusses the significance of the manuscript for classical studies and how it was absorbed into the classical Ovidian tradition. This volume’s main focus, however, is on the glossing and commentary and what these can teach us about the pedagogical approaches to Ovid’s text in medieval Europe and Britain and, more specifically, in Wales. Russell argues that this annotated version of the Ars amatoria arose out of the teaching traditions of the Carolingian world and that the annotation, as we have it, was the product of a cumulative process of glossing and commenting on the text. He then surveys other glossed Ovid manuscripts to demonstrate how that accumulation was built up. Russell also explores the fascinating issue of why Ovid’s love poetry should be used to teach Latin verse in monastic contexts. Finally, he discusses the connection between this manuscript and the numerous references to Ovid in later Welsh poetry, suggesting that the Ovidian references should perhaps be taken to refer to love poetry more generically.

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Renaissance Postscripts

Responding to Ovid's Heroides in Sixteenth-Century France

Ovid’s Heroides, a collection consisting mainly of poetic love letters sent by mythological heroines to their absent lovers, held a particular fascination for Renaissance readers. To understand their responses to these letters, we must ask exactly how and in what contexts those readers first encountered them: were they read in Latin or in the vernacular; as source texts for the learning of grammar and history or as love poetry; as epistolary and rhetorical models or as moral examples? Renaissance Postscripts: Responding to Ovid’s Heroides in Sixteenth-Century France by Paul White offers an account of the wide variety of responses to the Heroides within the realm of humanist education, in the works of both Latin commentators and French translators, and as an example of a particular mode of imitation. The author examines how humanists shaped the discourse of Ovid’s heroines and heroes to pedagogical ends and analyzes even the woodcuts that illustrated various editions. This study traces comparative readings of French translations through a period noted for important shifts in attitudes to the text and to poetic translation in general and offers an important history of the “reply epistle”—a mode of imitation attempted in both Latin and the vernacular. Renaissance Postscripts shows that while the Heroides was a versatile text that could serve a wide range of pedagogical and literary purposes, it was also a text that resisted the attempts of its interpreters to have the final word.

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