Joaquin M. Pizarro

title.none: Nauerth, ed. and trans., Liber Pontificalis (Pizarro)

identifier.other: baj9928.9704.002 97.04.02

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Joaquin M. Pizarro, SUNY Stony Brook,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 1997

identifier.citation: Nauerth, Claudia, ed. and trans. Liber Pontificalis: Bischofsbuch. Fontes Christiani 21/1 and 2. Freiburg: Herder, 1996. Pp. 642. ISBN: ISBN 3-451-22112-8.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: Bryn Mawr Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 97.04.02

Nauerth, Claudia, ed. and trans. Liber Pontificalis: Bischofsbuch. Fontes Christiani 21/1 and 2. Freiburg: Herder, 1996. Pp. 642. ISBN: ISBN 3-451-22112-8.

Reviewed by:

Joaquin M. Pizarro
SUNY Stony Brook

Agnellus of Ravenna's Liber pontificalis ecclesiae Ravennatis (LPR), one of the most important historical narratives of the ninth century, has for many years been accessible only in Oswald Holder-Egger's edition of 1878 for the Monumenta Germaniae Historica and in Alessandro Testi Rasponi's incomplete edition of 1924 for the Rerum italicarum scriptores. This attractive two- volume version prepared by Claudia Nauerth for the Fontes Christiani will therefore be highly welcome to scholars interested in Ravenna, early medieval Italy, or early medieval Latin literature. It cannot be called a new edition, for it reprints Holder-Egger's Latin text, with very few corrections or emendations, and the textual apparatus too is derived from that of the Monumenta edition, but the explanatory notes are new, and there is a good German translation on facing pages. In addition, the seventy five- page introduction covers much new scholarship on Agnellus and includes an extremely useful analytic summary of the LPR as well as side-by-side chronological lists of the bishops and archbishops of Ravenna as proposed by E. Stein, Friedrich Deichmann, and the two most recent students of the subject, Ruggero Benericetti and Deborah Mauskopf Deliyannis. (Because of the date of publication of the book, Nauerth was able to make use of Benericetti's critical study of 1994 and Deliyannis's dissertation of 1995 only in the introduction.) A particularly valuable aspect of her explanatory notes is that they make full use of Friedrich Deichmann's monumental work on the archeology of Ravenna to clarify Agnellus's frequent references to places, buildings, and works of art. The results of Sylviane Lazard's investigation of Agnellus's Hellenisms have also been incorporated into the notes. There are indexes of scriptural citations, characters, modern and contemporary scholars, topography and monuments, and general subjects.

Claudia Nauerth teaches early Christian archeology at Heidelberg, and has already published a monograph on Agnellus as antiquarian and archeologist, so it is not surprising that the focus of interest in her presentation of the text should be art-historical and archeological. That has been the dominant tradition of scholarship on this author, and we owe to it some of the most important studies on the LPR. Agnellus's importance as a literary figure, however, is considerable, and recent surveys of early medieval Latin literature (by Brunhölzl, Vinay, Onnerfors for instance) have ranked him among the most important and interesting voices of the ninth century. So it is a pity that this new version of his book, handsomely produced and made more accessible by the accompanying translation, should follow its antiquarian agenda so exclusively. Literary sources are given only indirectly, if at all, by reference to the notes in Testi Rasponi. This creates a serious practical problem for all non-antiquarian readers, who will have to keep a copy of Testi Rasponi at hand just to make sense of these notes. Current scholarship on the genre of the LPR and on Agnellus's large measure of originality within that genre is listed neither in the notes nor in the bibliography: the work of Michel Sot, the leading expert on gesta episcoporum, needs to be mentioned at the very least. The bibliography is in fact far from complete, even from the point of view of archeology. Bryan Ward-Perkins's fundamental study of public building in late antique and early medieval Italy (1984), for instance, has not been consulted, though it might have changed the editor's mind as to the evidential value of Agnellus's reference to bathhouses and public theatricals in chapter 128.

The translation is spirited and captures many of the qualities of Agnellus as narrator, historian, and occasional preacher. Here and there I would have translated otherwise. In chapter 37, for example, where Nauerth has Attila's armies advancing toward Ravenna "so that his [i.e. Attila's] enemies might lie scattered like a swarm of locusts on sandy places" (ut...illius hostes ut multitudo locustarum per sablonosa loca fusa iacerent), hostes should be translated "armies", for Attila's own troops are meant. The simile echoes Judges 7,12, where it describes an army and not the peaceful inhabitants of cities. In that same chapter of the LPR, Bishop Johannes goes out to meet the Hun " indutus scema angelica". Nauerth translates "einem Engel gleich gekleidet," i.e. "dressed like an angel," but the phrase renders a Greek expression and means simply "wearing a monastic robe." On the whole, however, the German version is exact and attractive, and in my opinion preferable to the only other translation of Agnellus into a modern European language, Mario Pierpaoli's Il libro di Agnello istorico (Ravenna, 1988).

Nauerth's Agnellus will be greeted with pleasure and interest by all admirers of this fascinating author as a sign of the growing attention his work has been receiving in recent times. For a brand new Latin text and the extensive annotation the LPR calls for, they will have to wait for the publication of Deborah Mauskopf Deliyannis's forthcoming edition.