12.09.20, MuÑoz Jiménez, ed., El Florilegio: Espacio de encuentro de los autores antiguos y medievales

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Clara Pascual-Argente

The Medieval Review 12.09.20

MuÑoz Jiménez, María José. El Florilegio: Espacio de encuentro de los autores antiguos y medievales. Textes et études du Moyen Âge, 58. Porto: Fédération Internationale des Institutes d'études médiévales, 2011. Pp. xxx, 259. ISBN: 978-2-503-53596-8.

Reviewed by:
Clara Pascual-Argente
Rhodes College

El florilegio: espacio de encuentro de los autores antiguos y medievales is a collection of essays about a handful of medieval florilegia that feature the usual mix of classical, late antique, medieval, and, in some cases, early humanist authors. The volume is built around the work of a research group from the Universidad Complutense in Madrid that started studying medieval Latin florilegia and anthologies in 2000 and has produced by now a sizable number of articles and books, most of which are referenced in this collection. This fact gives the volume a high degree of consistency, since its authors share a common critical background, assumptions, and methodology. El florilegio could have been an excellent opportunity to make such a background, assumptions, and methodology explicit, as well as to share some of the research group's general conclusions about high and late medieval florilegia, but unfortunately neither the two-page presentation by the research group director, María José MuÑoz Jiménez, nor her longer essay set out to give such an overview.

The strength of this volume lies in the accuracy and richness of data about the sources, organization, and treatment of individual authors in specific manuscripts containing florilegia that all essays offer to their readers. El florilegio is, in fact, representative of the value, as well of the limitations, of a certain type of scholarly inquiry often--although of course not only, and not exclusively--practiced in Spain. As for its limitations, the essays in El florilegio do not appear to have many, if any, theoretical or ideological concerns, avoid speculation (and consequently their conclusions can sometimes appear quite obvious or be of limited value), and can make for very dry reading. On the other hand, they also provide readers with a wealth of important factual observations, and pay an exceedingly close attention to individual manuscripts-- features that more theoretically-minded approaches sometimes lack. As a consequence, these essays can prove very useful to scholars studying Latin and vernacular sapiential literature, the medieval diffusion of certain antique authors, or the intellectual circles where these florilegia were created--although seeing the richness of their material, one often wishes that the authors had chosen to go further in their interpretation of the data they have so carefully collected. In what follows, I will try to give an accurate idea of the information on specific manuscripts and authors that each essay provides.

In "Formas de coexistencia de los autores y obras en los florilegios latinos," María José MuÑoz Jiménez offers the most general perspective in the volume, dealing with the "different forms of coexistence and cooperation" (9) between authors in medieval Latin florilegia. She gives an overview of two medieval (Escorial, Real Biblioteca del Monasterio de San Lorenzo, Q.I.14 and Toledo, Archivo Capitular, 21- 43) as well as a seventeenth-century (Valladolid, Biblioteca Histórica de Santa Cruz, 246) manuscripts containing such compilations, stressing the fact that authors of medieval (and later, medievalizing) florilegia manipulated the passages they extracted according to the specific purposes--mostly "moralizing and formative" (27)--for which they were compiling their work, in contrast to Renaissance anthologies, which respected original texts and therefore limited the degree of "cooperation" between the anthologized authors.

Ana María Aldama Roy's and María Dolores Castro Jiménez's contributions analyze the treatment of specific classical authors in the Florilegium Gallicum (FG), "the richest of the medieval florilegia focusing on classical authors" (57). In "Los poemas de Claudiano en el Florilegium Gallicum," Aldama Roy analyzes the excerpts from Claudianus's poems in the main four manuscripts of the FG (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, lat. 7464 and lat. 17903; Arras, Bibliothèque Municipale, 65; and, once more, Escorial, Real Biblioteca, Q.I.14), as well as in two other codices containing parts of that compilation (Berlin, Staatsbibliothek, Diezianus B. Santen 60; and Córdoba, Archivo Capitular, 150), and shows how the selection and treatment of the poems varies depending on each manuscript's date, purposes, and intended public. On the other hand, in her "Las epístolas literarias de Horacio en el Florilegium Gallicum," Castro Jiménez focuses on the treatment of Horace's literary epistles in the four main FG manuscripts, concluding that through "titles, omissions, and textual manipulations," the creator of the FG attempts to give a more general or universalizing meaning to sentences that may have had a very specific sense in their original context.

The two following contributions, "Juvenal en el manuscrito de Douai, Bibliothèque Municipale, 749-II," by María Teresa Callejas Berdonés, and "Pasajes selectos de Ovidio en el florilegio de Douai, Bibliothèque Municipale, 749," by Beatriz Fernández de la Cuesta González, also focus on the treatment of individual classical authors in a medieval florilegium, in this case the compilation found in Douai, Bibliothèque Municipale, ms. 749, a twelfth- or thirteenth- century codex that both essays agree was created for teaching purposes. Callejas Berdonés studies the selections of Juvenal in the Douai codex and compares them with those in the FG. Although the Douai manuscript's selection is independent from that of the FG, both florilegia share a "moral and exemplary aim" (97). Fernández de la Cuesta González's essay analyzes the excerpts from Ovid's works in the same manuscript, which, unlike Juvenal's, appear to have undergone few modifications.

The second part of the volume centers on fifteenth-century florilegia, three of them created in Castilian chivalric- humanist circles and the other two in Aragon. "Los excerpta de la Rhetorica ad Herennium del Vademecum del conde de Haro" and "La selección de textos De re militari en la biblioteca del conde de Haro," by Patricia CaÑizares Ferriz and María Felisa del Barrio Vega respectively, study different aspects of the Count of Haro's library. Haro, one of the foremost humanist noblemen in fifteenth-century Castile, amassed one of the most important private libraries of the time. CaÑizares Ferriz's essay focuses on the count's Vademecum, a compilation containing selections from "classical, Christian, and medieval texts in Latin, Castilian, and French" (125) with "religious, moralizing, and didactic themes on the one hand, and chivalric texts on the other" (131), which can be found in two manuscripts (Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, 9513 and 9522). After an introduction about the Vademecum's composition and the differences between the compilation's two extant copies, CaÑizares Ferriz examines the selection of excerpts from the Rhetorica ad Herennium in the work, which results in a list of rhetorical figures. The Vademecum is also present in del Barrio Vega's article, who also takes into consideration another manuscript from Haro's library, the lesser-known Madrid, Biblioteca Nacional, 9608. Ms. 9608, del Barrio Vega shows, has a close relationship with the Vademecum, but, unlike the former, it concentrates exclusively on military matter. Her article also confirms or corrects some of Jeremy Lawrance's identifications of specific manuscripts housed in the Biblioteca Nacional in Madrid with entries in Haro's library catalogs. [1]

Marta Cruz Trujillo's article, "La particular selección de autores del manuscrito de Montserrat, Biblioteca de la Abadía, 981," takes us to a Aragonese and Catalan-speaking chancery milieu, examining the fifteenth-century Latin florilegium found in Montserrat Abbey, ms. 981. Cruz Trujillo describes the compilation in detail and identifies the specific manuscript sources for some of the extracts it contains, noting that the florilegium shows "a notable interest in education and good citizenship" and can give us an idea of "fifteenth-century Catalan dictatores' interests, as well as of the texts they utilized or had within reach" (206). Still within the fifteenth-century Aragonese domain, but this time in a monastic context, Irene Villarroel Fernández gives in "Autores y obras extractados en el manuscrito de Tarragona, Biblioteca Pública del Estado, 94" a detailed overview of a "thematic florilegium" (Tarragona, Biblioteca Pública del Estado, ms. 94) created in the Cistercian monastery of Santes Creus as an instrument for predication. The codex contains for the most part extracts from books IV and V of Vicent of Beauvais' Speculum doctrinale, as well as proverbs attributed to Cicero and Pythagoras, with the purpose of "systematizing theory on scientia practica, that is, morals" (209).

Finally, Montserrat Jiménez San Cristóbal's essay, "La presencia de Leonardo Bruni en la Floresta de Philosophos" takes us back to the intellectual circles of fifteenth-century Castilian chivalric humanism. Jiménez San Cristóbal deals with the treatment of Leonardo Bruni's work (including his Latin translation of Plato's Phaedo) in the vernacular collection of sententiae known as the Floresta de Philosophos, noting the similarity of this compilation to the Latin florilegia studied in the rest of the book. Jiménez San Cristóbal demonstrates that, given the work's selection of Bruni's works, the compiler appears to have had access to the Marquis of Santillana's library, so the attribution of the Floresta de Philosophos to Fernán Pérez de Guzmán, which has been contested, remains plausible, although other members of the Marquis's literary circle could also have authored it.

Most essays also include appendices containing useful information about the contents of specific manuscripts, even with partial transcriptions in some cases. Many of them also incorporate images from the codices, which in some cases help the reader follow and assess a particular argument (as when del Barrio Vega uses them to establish that the same copyist is responsible for different parts of a manuscript), but in others do not seem to serve any particular purpose that could not have been accomplished with a regular quote. Finally, it is unfortunate that a volume that can be mined for so many valuable data does not have a general bibliography, although it does contain an index of all the manuscripts mentioned throughout the volume.



1. Lawrance's proposed identifications can be found in his "Nueva luz sobre la biblioteca del conde de Haro: inventario de 1455," El Crotalón. Anuario de filología espaÑola 1 (1984): 1073-1111.

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Author Biography

Clara Pascual-Argente

Rhodes College