Bengt Loefstedt

title.none: Summers, ed., Iuvenilia of Th. de Bèze (Bengt Loefstedt)

identifier.other: baj9928.0210.020 02.10.20

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Bengt Loefstedt, UCLA

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2002

identifier.citation: Summers, Kirk M., ed. A View from the Palatine: The Iuvenilia of Théodore de Bèze. Series: Medieval and Renaissance Studies, vol. 237. Tempe, Arizona: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2002. Pp. xxxvi, 462. $40.00. ISBN: 0-866-98279-5.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 02.10.20

Summers, Kirk M., ed. A View from the Palatine: The Iuvenilia of Théodore de Bèze. Series: Medieval and Renaissance Studies, vol. 237. Tempe, Arizona: Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, 2002. Pp. xxxvi, 462. $40.00. ISBN: 0-866-98279-5.

Reviewed by:

Bengt Loefstedt

Théodore de Bèze (1519-1605) was born in France and lived in Orléans and Paris until 1548 when he left for Geneva. He got to know many Swiss reformers, and soon became professor of Greek at Lausanne. In 1556 he published a translation of the New Testament into Classical Latin, the Greek text and a copious commentary; this work came out in many editions and was the basis for Protestant Bible editions and translations for a long time to come. Bèze eventually became the successor of Jean Calvin as head of the Reformed movement.

While in Paris Bèze published 1548 a collection of his youth poems (the so-called Iuvenilia). After becoming a theologian and a Reformed Protestant, he printed several new editions of his poems, where he expurgated obscene love poems and inserted religious poems instead. Summers has decided to reedit the first edition from 1548 with a translation and an extensive commentary.

It should be emphasized at the outset that Summers has done a good job and that the Iuvenilia were worth the effort. Bèze was famous among Humanists and other Neo-Latin writers as an excellent poet, and was often imitated, as Summers has shown. The meter of every poem is identified, and the translations are generally correct, although often too free.

After this praise, I come to some criticism; first concerning the translation:

P. 18, 37 ff.

Quid castae matris curas.../ commemorem? dum ...caeli / consortem agnoscit sese natumque tuetur / ante pedes, nasci quem vix dum senserat ipsa / parturiens pariensque simul ....

...While...she (the Virgin Mary) recognizes that she is the consort of heaven and stares at the child before her feet. While even she had scarcely yet felt his birth, laboring and giving birth together....

"Vix dum" should rather have been printed as one word, meaning, 'scarcely', so the second "while" in the translation is superfluous.

P. 20, 70 ebrio...Lyaeo. Summers has not translated "ebrio." P. 34, 215 (concerning Nathan and King David)...ingratae scelus exprobrare senectae: "denouncing the wickedness of his graceless middle age." "Ingrata senecta" means here 'ungrateful old man'. P. 60,39 f. Perveniam certe quacumque moreris in urbe, / sive aliquo potius, Publia, rure lates: "Of course, I will come to whatever city you reside in, or, preferably, if you are hiding out in the country". Rather: "...or if you are rather hiding somewhere on the countryside'. P. 64,6 et potui et possum dicere semper, amo: "I can always say, 'I am in love'". Why not translate "potui et"? P.66, 2 Veneris surdo numina nota mari: "the power of Venus is manifest from the faint-sounding sea". "Nota" with the dative means 'known to'. P. 266,7 f. Ergo quod illaesos, o rex, servaveris hostes, / nemo metum credat, sed pietatis opus: "Because you spared your enemies unharmed, let no one put their trust in fear, but in the work of piety". Rather: 'Therefore, o King, let no one believe that it was because of fear that you spared your enemies, but rather it was because of piety'. P. 288,5 ff.

Crudelis tandem nati crudelia poscit (sc. Venus)/ tela; neget matri tela rogatus Amor? / Arma parat.../...est iaculatori sic quoque parta salus: / quem simul ac vultu spectasses laesa minaci, / aut nimis aut esses acriter ulta satis

...She takes aim...she who shot the arrow in the first place was also saved. Had you been wounded and glared at her with a mean look...."

Instead of "she" and "her" with reference to Venus, it should be "he" and "his" with reference to Amor, Cupid. The masculine gender is shown by "iaculatori" instead of "iaculatrici" and the pronoun "quem...."

I have noticed the following printing errors: P. 10,21 f. si fallere saevos / Antoni possint gladio (read "gladios").

P. 24,54 humenti iam calfacit offa (read "ossa") calore.

P. 30,160 f. ...tutum ipse dedi (miseratis [read "miseratus"] egentis) / exilium.

P. 74,14 divitas (read "divitias").

P. 240,26 cerebrum (read "terebrum")....

Often the punctuation is misleading for a modern reader, e.g. p. 32,172 fas, aequumque putant; delete the comma.

P. 68,39 ff. Ut tamen est visum littus, portumque subire / iam paro, conspecti captus amore soli./ Auferor infelix; comma instead of period after "soli".

P. 230,7 f. At quoniam iungunt, concordia pectora fratres,/ servatum Europae dicitur imperium. No comma after "iungunt".

P. 280, 42 ff. Vos primi tumidis manus papillis / admovebitis, huius ut tumoris / arte vestra, operaque restituti. Ipsi commoda prima sentiatis. Delete the comma after "vestra" and the period after "restituti...."

In his commentary Summers documents not only his learning (particularly concerning Neo-Latin poetry) but also his political correctness: p. 153 he practically asks us to forgive Bèze for his "stereotyping of women...Bèze was a product of his age". The numerous obscenities, on the other hand, Summers rather seems to enjoy; he even finds some where I can see none. E.g. on pp. 401 ff. he finds in "corculum" (a diminutive of "cor", used as a term of endearment) a reference to "anus," "culus," and p. 422 he remarks concerning the use of "pipiones" p. 298: "Bèze is thinking of Catullus' sparrow as a metaphor for the penis".

Summers does not seem to be quite at home in Latin linguistics. P. 170 "coenobio; a late forth-century word, related to the Greek koino'bios...." It is a Greek loan word.

P. 349 "deambulones: a contraction of deambulationes". Such a contraction is linguistically impossible. The word "deambulo," "-onis" occurs p. 22,18 f. Hic nulli tetrici deambulones, / hic rixosus erit sophista nullus. It means "one who takes a walk" and is a new coinage by Bèze, made up by analogy of "gulo," "nebulo" and in the first place "antambulo" 'a forerunner', a word which occurs three times in Martial, who was often imitated by Bèze.

P. 363 "tota Venus: i.e. Venus from head to toe, as indicated by 'tota,' as opposed to 'omnis,' which by itself would not express the totality of the experience". The main difference between "totus" and "omnis" is not semantic but stylistic, "totus" being more colloquial (it survives in the Romance languages: French "tout," etc.).

There are too few notes on Bèze's Latin language in the commentary. Some examples of features which should be commented upon:

P. 16,6 f. exercete; 66, 37 ne...negato. 3 ne...desere; 76,37 ne...tollito. The use of negated imperatives is quite rare in Classical Latin; see Leena Loefstedt, Les expressions du commandement et de la défense en latin (Helsinki 1966) 61 ff. But it occurs often also in Bèze's translation and commentary of the New Testament, see Eos 87 (2000), 346.

The use of an infinitive instead of an imperative is rare in Latin, see Leena Loefstedt 198 ff. Bèze has some examples (unless they are misprints):

P. 16,11 f. procul esse (or read "este") scelesti deliciae pueri; 36, 264 f. sidera mutatum spectare (or read "spectate") virum.

The following words are not cited in the Thesaurus Linguae Latinae: 310,11 "delicatulus;" 276, 29 "fibulula;" 110,2 "gemebundo" (adverb); also the diminutive 68,60 "syllabula" is unclassical.