Maura K.Lafferty

title.none: Wieland, Insignis Sophiae Arcator (Maura K.Lafferty)

identifier.other: baj9928.0710.010 07.10.10

identifier.issn: 1096-746X

description.statementofresponsibility: Maura K.Lafferty, University of Tennessee Knoxville,

publisher.none: .

date.issued: 2008

identifier.citation: Wieland, Gernot R., Carin Ruff, and Ross G. Arthur. Insignis Sophiae Arcator: Medieval Latin Studies in Honor of Michael Herren on His 65th Birthday. Publications of the Jounral of Medieval Latin, vol. 6. Turnhout: Brepols, 2006. Pp. xiv, 304. ISBN: $55.00 (pb) 978-2-503-51425-3.

type.none: Review

relation.ispartof: The Medieval Review

The Medieval Review 07.10.10

Wieland, Gernot R., Carin Ruff, and Ross G. Arthur. Insignis Sophiae Arcator: Medieval Latin Studies in Honor of Michael Herren on His 65th Birthday. Publications of the Jounral of Medieval Latin, vol. 6. Turnhout: Brepols, 2006. Pp. xiv, 304. ISBN: $55.00 (pb) 978-2-503-51425-3.

Reviewed by:

Maura K.Lafferty
University of Tennessee Knoxville

Beginning a review of a Festschrift by commenting on the lack of cohesion among the essays included has become a topos. The link between the essays is not, after all, their content but the authors' connection to the honoree. This is certainly the case with this collection, in which the individual authors' admiration of, affection for and inspiration by Michael Herren are particularly palpable and deservedly so. I must confess outright that I share that admiration and affection, making me a less impartial reviewer than might be desirable. It would be difficult, however, to find a medieval Latinist to review this book who did not share those feelings.

While the collection as a whole is not particularly thematically coherent, many of them are well worth reading in their own right. Several of them emulate Herren and undertake the edition of hitherto unpublished works, none, however, as daunting as the Hisperica Famina. All the articles concern Latin texts, most involve close textual analysis, and many of them reflect Herren's own research interests in insular Latin literature and learning. I will discuss this last group of essays first.

Danuta Shanzer's essay on the Cosmographia attributed to Aethicus Ister focuses on the text's fictional frame, particularly on the conflicted relationship between "Jerome," the "translator" in whose voice the frame is written, and "Aethicus," the pagan "author" to whom "Jerome" attributes the Cosmographia. She points to Jerome's playfulness with truth in his own fictional saints' lives, and argues that the Cosmographia is a spoof of the genre of the Philosophenroman. She concludes by calling attention to the many problems that still bedevil our understanding of the text, the authorship and origin of which are still uncertain. This essay ends with a series of yet unanswered questions--it feels as if it is bursting at the seams--and leaves the reader with the sense that Shanzer has a great deal more to say on the subject.

Using the evidence of Irish Latin hagiographers, Westley Follett argues convincingly that Cassian's work was known in Ireland and that, like Cassian, Irish hagiographers understood theoria to include both asceticism and contemplation. Follett makes good use of textual parallels to Cassian.

Following up on a theme of classical learning in Ireland in some of Herren's recent work, Brent Miles uses the Togail Tro, an Irish account of the Trojan War dating to the tenth century, to show that Anglo-Saxon writers such as Alfred drew on mythographic material that was preserved and transmitted in Ireland.

Carin Ruff's essay is a careful analysis of Aldhelm's prose in his letter to Leuthere (Ep. 1) in the light of the psychology of reading. She argues that Anglo-Saxon schooling in Latin trained readers better to cope with the difficulties of Aldhelm's lengthy sentences than does modern schooling. Aldhelm's style results, however, from a tension between obfuscation of the syntactical structures created by alliteration and the clarification of them through the use of rhythm. This article could serve as an exemplum of clarity of style and careful analysis for students, and I intend to assign it next time I assign an exercise in close reading.

Less clear is Gernot Wieland's essay on a difficult short poem Archalis clamare triumuir, edited by Michael Lapidge. Against Michael Lapidge's attribution of the poem to John the Saxon, he argues that the poem's telestich, Iohannes, like its anocrostic, Adalstan, refers to the addressee, the West Saxon King Athelstan. While Wieland succeeds in calling into question Lapidge's attribution of the poem to John the Saxon, his argument that Athelstan had Iohannes as a second name is not convincing. In passing, however, he successfully defends the manuscript reading Augustae ... rupis, and shows that lines 3 to 6 allude to 2 Samuel 22:2-5. This article thus represents an advance in our understanding of the poem's text.

Charles Wright edits a set of extracts from the Irish Proverbia Grecorum from two Breton manuscripts and argues that this set of proverbia was absorbed into continental treatises on kingship, including the Norman Anonymous, and, like the better known De duodecim abusivis saeculis, had an important role in shaping the medieval ideal of kingship.

The final insular contribution, Paul Gerhard Schmidt's edition of a couple of hagiographical stories, De quadam domina peccatrice conversa and Miraculum de beata Virgine Maria, sets them in the larger context of visionary literature and collections of exempla and miracles, interrelated genres which Schmidt characterizes as sensational entertainment designed for the edification of a clerical audience. The De quadam domina peccatrice, one of the most entertaining pieces of Latin literature that I have ever read, illustrates his point well, for in this text clerics are both the helpless victims of the sinful lady and the heroes of her salvation. The sensationalistic details of her sin would allow the clerical reader first to wallow in enjoyable iniquity, before rejoicing in the triumph of clerical virtue and power.

The remaining essays are less tightly connected to Herren's own field and more scattered temporally and geographically: Gregory Hays catalogues the ways in which the image of the river and the spring are used in classical Greek and Latin literature, in the Bible, and by patristic and medieval authors. He shows how the patristic and medieval authors appropriate, blend and modify the two quite different traditions.

Haijo Westra engages in the heated debate over ethnogenesis of the Germanic peoples of the early Middle Ages. He focuses specifically on the Frisians, arguing that the name was applied in the Middle Ages to a people with a collective identity, as evidenced by their shared culture and law, and who had a certain degree of continuity with the Frisians of Late Antiquity. He makes the interesting argument that the very marginality of the Frisians, like that of the Basques, allowed their survival.

Scot Bruce's fascinating essay shows how Ratramnus of Corbie uses a life of saint Christopher to argue for the humanity of the Cynocephali, the dog-headed men, on the basis of Christopher's use of language and possession of reason. Not only does Ratramnus open a potential missionary field for his correspondent, Rimbert: the Cynocephali were thought to inhabit the extreme north where Rimbert's missionary efforts were directed, but he also reads the saint's life in an original way, as the source for evidence to back up a theological argument.

Bernice Kaczynski studies the use of Augustine at the Benedictine abbey of St. Gall, using the evidence of the manuscripts themselves. She shows how the textual community of St. Gall, the editors, scribes and scholars working with the manuscripts transformed Augustine's work. I hope that Kaczynski will return to the interesting subject of the glosses, upon which she touches only briefly here.

Jan Ziolkowski's study of the Waltharius focuses on the bodily fluids, blood, sweat and tears, and how their effusion (or control) contributes to our understanding of the characters and their heroism. He shows that the epic combines Germanic ideas about heroism with learned ideas about the four humors. Like the author of the epic, Ziolkowski "manages with a light" (even playful) "hand to find a sanguine ending to what could otherwise have been nothing more than a gory mess."

Roger Wright demonstrates the importance of the glossary tradition in the Iberian peninsula from the seventh to the tenth centuries, where they were used to demonstrate a connection with Visigothic learning and to aid in producing new compositions with an ancient lexicon. They were eventually displaced when dictionaries came into existence in the eleventh century.

Greti Dinkova-Bruun focuses on the glosses to Peter Riga's enormously popular versification of the bible, the Aurora, a commentary tradition drawing both on commentary on the Bible and on commentary on the classical authors. This essay edits a portion of a fascinating anonymous gloss on the Riga's second recension of his poem. Dinkova- Bruun shows that its author was a learned man and an original thinker, a student of the Bible and contemporary work on it commentary, such as Peter Comestor's Historia scholastica, but also of neo-platonic philosophy, rhetoric, and classical history, literature and mythology.

As is not uncommon in a Festschrift, these essays vary somewhat in quality and in degree of finish. I left the Festschrift, however, knowing far more than I did when I began it, and, in particular, with a new set of short texts that my medieval Latin students will enjoy reading.