Miguel de Asua

title.none: Beullens and Bossier, eds, De Historia Animalium, Lib. I-V (Miguel de Asua)

identifier.other: baj9928.0206.006 02.06.06

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Miguel de Asua,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2002

identifier.citation: Beullens, Pieter and Fernand Bossier, eds. De Historia Animalium, Lib. I-V. Aristoteles Latinus, Vol. XVII. Leiden: Brill, 2000. Pp.. 54.00. ISBN: 9-004-11863-2.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 02.06.06

Beullens, Pieter and Fernand Bossier, eds. De Historia Animalium, Lib. I-V. Aristoteles Latinus, Vol. XVII. Leiden: Brill, 2000. Pp.. 54.00. ISBN: 9-004-11863-2.

Reviewed by:

Miguel de Asua

Early medieval animal lore was concentrated in several literary genres like the Bestiary, encyclopedias like Isidore's Etymologiae or Hrabanus Maurus' De universo, some Pliny and the antidotaria and receptaria including animal materia medica. Several news forms of writing about animals embodying different approaches to knowledge of the animal world appeared during the thirteenth century: the great encyclopedias (Thomas of Catimpre, Vincent of Beauvais, Bartholomaeus Anglicus), books on falconry like Federick II's De arte venandi, and Aristotelian commentaries, e. g. those of Peter of Spain and Albert the Great. This diverse, rich and deeply significant phenomenon had its condition of possibility in Michael Scot's Arabic-Latin translation of Aristotle's De animalibus during the second decade of the century. William of Moerbeke's Greek- Latin translation of Historia animalium, De progressu, De motu, De partibus animalium and De generatione animalium, followed Scot's after a little more than four decades. In the field of the Aristotelian libri naturales, William (d. 1286) contributed the first Greek- Latin translations of books 3-4 of De caelo, books 1-3 of Meteorologica and the woks on animals. The Historia animalium was further translated by George of Trebizond (Trapezuntius) and Theodore Gaza around the middle of the 15th century, shortly before the Greek editio princeps (Venice, 1497).

Aristotle's woks on animals were latecomers in the translation movement but their influence was profound in both the natural philosophical and medical traditions--the case of William Harvey being a distant and impressive case of the vitality of this intellectual heritage in the midst of the 'Scientific Revolution' (see Roger French, William Harvey's Natural Philosophy [Cambridge, Engl.: Cambridge University Press, 1994]).

During the last years great progress has also been done in the field of critical editions of the medieval translations of Aristotle's works on animals. A. van Oppenraay published Scot's versions of De generatione animalium (Leiden: Brill, 1992) and De partibus animalium (Leiden: Brill, 1998) and is now preparing the Historia animalium--all of them corresponding to the Aristoteles Semitico-Latinus series. Of the volumes in the Aristoteles latinus corresponding to Moerbeke's translation we already had the edition of De generatione animalium by H. J. Drosaart Lulofs (Leiden: Brill, 1966). Pieter Beullens and Fernand Bossier have now edited books 1-5 of Historia animalium and are preparing a second volume with books 6-10. The edition of Moerbeke's translation of De partibus animalium is in preparation by Pietro Rossi. Part of this editorial work was discussed a few years ago in a workshop organized by the De Wulf-Mansion Centre for Ancient and Medieval Philosophy (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven) (for a summary see P. Beullens and J. Brams, "International Workshop 'The Tradition of Aristotle's De historia animalium'", Bulletin de philosophie medievale 38 [1996], 169-176). The publication of modern critical editions of the Aristotelian texts on animals has been accompanied by a renewed interest in the medieval and Renaissance traditions of commentary on Aristotle's works on animals (see for example the papers in C. Steel, G. Guldentops and P. Beullens, eds., Aristotle's Animals in the Middle Ages and Renaissance [Leuven: Leuven Univesity Press, 1999] and also S. Perfetti, Aristotle's Zoology and its Renaissance Commentators, 1521-1601 [Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2000]).

The edition of Moerbeke's version of the first five books of the Historia animalium by Beullens and Bossier is an outstanding scholarly achievement and a result of many years of work at the Institute of Philosophy of U. K. Leuven. So far we had Rudberg's edition of books 1 and 10 (1908 and 1911) which, besides being dated, is of difficult accessibility. In this new welcome edition of the first five books the Historia animalium is preceded by a preface with an exhaustive study which throws new light upon the manuscript tradition of the text and also confirms and extends our knowledge of Moerbeke's method of work (see Bossier's paper in J. Brams and W. Vanhamel, eds., Guillaume de Moerbeke. Recueil d'etudes a l'occasion du 700e anniversaire de sa mort (1286) [Leuven: Leuven University Press, 1989]). The Beullens-Bossier edition is based on the 38 extant manuscripts containing the complete text and four manuscripts with fragments thereof. The stemma (related only to the transmission of books 1 through 9) is worth commenting on. To the archetype x can be traced, on the one hand, a family of manuscripts related to an exemplar p and on the other hand a single manuscript which bears the closest relationship to the archetype (Tz = Toletanus, bibl. cap., 47.10, 13th century)--there is also the special case of a manuscript which derives independently from an ancestor a of the exemplar p, intermediary between the exemplar p and the archetype x (Dp = Cantabrigiensis, bibl. domus Petri, 121). The authors argue that the archetype x could not be identified with William's autograph G. The Toletanus was identified as an special case on the basis of several particular characteristics which reveal that it holds a privileged relationship with the autograph. These distinctive traits of the Toletanus manuscript also allow us a close view of William's working methodology.

The editors distinguish two kinds of marginalia: (a) variants and doublets and (b) explanatory notes. Moerbeke noted down either in the margins or as interlinear additions alternative renderings of the works which presented difficulties (these additions in many cases consisted in etymologizing translations). Besides, he used explanatory notes with definitions of some Greek works which have been traced to the lexicon of Hesychius. A third characteristic of Moerbeke's method is the use of lacunae when he was at a loss with the translation of an obscure term--presumably, the autograph included the original problematic Greek text. Beullens and Bossier thus show how Moerbeke did not aim at leaving a clean copy of his work, but instead considered it "a work in progress, in which alternate renderings were taken down in the margins and between the lines" and what of all that variants and marginal notes was incorporated in the copies was "a matter of chance". (xxvii)

Now, some of the historically most interesting sections of the preface to this edition are connected with the editors' claim that the manuscript belonging to the family of manuscripts other than the Toletanus are related to a university exemplar with peciae. The study of the transition of the peciae in several manuscripts indicates that the exemplar from which they were copied originally lacked book 10 of De Historia animalium, which was added later, what would account for the fact that in many manuscripts book 10 is missing, has been added after the completion of the copy, is out of place or there is evidence that an incomplete exemplar was used as a model. This exemplar has been identified with that owned by the Parisian stationarius Andreas de Senoni--as it appears in a 1304 taxation list--which comprised 38 peciae, so that it contained the whole set of Aristotelian treatises on animals. Beullens and Bossier crown this neat piece of research with an argument that ingeniously ties together several threads of evidence and strongly suggests that Andreas de Senonis' exemplar might be more or less directly related to Thomas Aquinas' copy of Moerbeke's translation of the books on animals. Besides some internal textual evidence they adduce the fact that Andreas' establishment was close to the monastery of Saint-Jacques.

The edition is enriched with the comparison of the text with manuscripts with texts or commentaries by users of Moerbeke's translation. Henry of Bate, a canon in Liege cathedral who is known to have been in contact with William, wrote after 1301 an encyclopedia, the Speculum divinorum et quorundam naturalium, which, as the collation shows, depended on a manuscript of the family associated with the university exemplar. Gerard de Breuil, a canon of Clermont, wrote a commentary of Aristotle's works on animals (before 1306) using both, Moerbeke's and Scot's translations. Thomas Aquinas in his Expositio super Iob (c. 1264) also used Moerbeke's work.

The authors discuss at length the Greek manuscript tradition of Historia animalium and the Greek model used by Moerbeke. They use Balme's classification of the manuscript families-- although with some misgivings, since they prefer to assume only two families of manuscripts with a further subdivision of the second family and not three as Balme had done. William's autograph is a fair representative of neither of the known families and exhibits a mixture of both families. Various hypotheses are put forward to explain this puzzling matter and the editors, discarding the hypothesis that Moerbeke used two manuscripts, conclude that he used only one Greek manuscript. Among the reasons adduced to defend the thesis of a single Greek manuscript with the peculiar characteristics demanded by the analysis of William's translation is the existence of a ninth-century fragment containing part of book VI (cod. Parisiensis 1156), which would fit the necessary requirements, i. e. it belongs to one of the families but provides readings only to be found in the other family.

The text has been edited on the basis of the Toletanus manuscript, using Dp (vide supra) as "a useful witness" and three manuscripts from the large family derived from the exemplar dating between the end of the 13th and the 14th centuries. The variants of the later family were indicated in the critical apparatus. The orthography was fixed according to medieval usage, with minor exceptions. The books are divided in chapters following the indications found in the tradition of the manuscripts derived from the exemplar. The first apparatus (Greek-Latin) depends on that of late professor Balme's as prepared for his editio maior of Aristotle's Historia animalium, now in preparation by A. Gotthelf to be published in the series Cambridge Classical Texts and Commentaries. The text has been compared with two manuscripts, each a representative of the two families of Greek manuscripts used as reference. Latin and Greek indexes will appear in the volume containing the edition of books 6-10.

The high standards of the Aristoteles latinus series constitute a difficult challenge for the editors and a touchstone of editorial skills. Beullens and Bossier have superbly shown themselves equal to the occasion and produced a brilliant scholarly product. The careful edition of the text has been supported by extensive historico-philological research which illuminates various aspects of Moerbeke's methods and the Aristotelian tradition. We confidently look forward to the upcoming publication of the second part of this model edition.