12.12.02, Teeuwen and O'Sullivan, eds., Carolingian Scholarship and Martianus Capella

Main Article Content

Michael Herren

The Medieval Review 12.12.02

Teeuwen, Mariken and Sinéad O'Sullivan. Carolingian Scholarship and Martianus Capella: Ninth-Century Commentary Traditions on 'De nuptiis' in Context. Cultural Encounters in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, 12. Turnhout: Brepols, 2012. Pp. xi, 393. ISBN: 978-2-503-53178-6.

Reviewed by:
Michael Herren
York University and the University of Toronto

This fine volume, based on a colloquium held at The Hague in 2008, comprises fourteen papers by highly reputed scholars of the Carolingian period. The collection has a thematic unity rarely encountered, focussing on the Martianus Capella commentaries, and more narrowly on the "Oldest Gloss Tradition" on the De nuptiis (hereafter OGT). The contributors analyse the commentaries of seven of the nine volumes of Martianus Capella's work--OGT omits Book III (Grammar) and Book VI (Geometry). An introduction by Teeuwen prefaces the studies; the volume concludes with three indices: manuscripts, names, and works.

Although the book is aimed at Carolingian specialists, it requires considerable unpacking even for the initiated. Readers need to know something about the status quaestionis at the end of the last century in order to appreciate fully the advances made here. Traube and Rand had identified three main strands of Carolingian commentary on Martianus' work: the oldest assigned to an Irishman named Dunchad, the next to Ergiuena, the last to Remigius of Auxerre. Once all three commentaries were edited by Cora Lutz in the 1930s and 40s, further work could begin. Lutz realized that the strands were interwoven: there were common scholia in Dunchad and Eriugena, and Remigius drew from both. Lutz edited the two older commentaries (Dunchad, Eriugena) from a single manuscript (Paris, BN lat. 12960). Another manuscript thought to contain the Eriugena commentary was discovered in 1949, too late for Lutz to take account of it. Remigius' commentary circulated much more widely, and Lutz was able to establish a bipartite tradition from which she chose representative manuscripts.

This uncluttered scene was disturbed by Claudio Leonardi in 1959, when he published his fundamental study, I codici di Martianus Capella (Aevum 33-34) identifying a large number of manuscripts containing Martianus commentaries or scholia, many of which were written before ca. 900. Leonardi sorted out the affiliations of some of these, promising a more complete study to follow. This never materialized. His work proved, however, that there were many more Carolingian copies of commentaries on Martianus than had been known previously. Jean Préaux (Latomus 12, 1953) showed that twelve of these belonged to OGT. Meanwhile, in 1978 Édouard Jeauneau edited the second manuscript of the Eriugena commentary, which comprised only book 1.

Such was the general state of affairs when Mariken Teeuwen initiated a project to sort out the affiliations of OGT. In a series of papers she set out to demonstrate: (1) that the earliest Martianus scholia predated the activity of Dunchad (whose authorship had already been doubted by others); (2) that the oldest of these manuscripts was Leiden Voss. Lat fol. 48 (VLF 48), which she set back some 20-30 years earlier than Bernhard Bischoffs dating (saec. IX2) and localized at Corbie; (3) that the OGT was the work of several scholars active in the reign of Louis the Pious (rather than Charles the Bald, as previously thought); (4) that VLF 48 reflects the original format of the commentary, namely a text of Martianus accompanied by marginal and interlinear scholia rather than a continuous commentary which had been "marginalized," to use James Zetzel's term. Teeuwen did not claim, however, that VLF 48 was a "codex archetypus," obvious when one examines the considerable divergences in the entire tradition. Working in partnership with Sinéad O'Sullivan, Teeuwen produced an online edition of VLF 48 (under her own name), while O'Sullivan brought out a critical edition of the entire tradition for Books I and II (CCCM, 2011). Ilaria Ramelli independently produced Italian translations of both the Carolingian and the known later commentaries (Tutti i commenti a Marziano Capella, Milan, 2006).

A final bit of unpacking is needed. Some contributors refer to "Dunchad" (nearly always in quotation marks) to refer to the entire OGT. Those raised on Cora Lutz's edition will be looking for a continuous commentary; indeed, the manuscript on which Lutz's edition is founded (Paris lat. 12960, Pd) does present a continuous commentary without an accompanying source text. As we learn from O'Sullivan, however, Pd is anomalous, and does not argue for an "original" continuous commentary. Thus, it represents the opposite process of "marginalization" ("demarginalization"?). A further point is that "Dunchad," as edited by Lutz from Paris BN lat. 12960, contains scholia and glosses to only the last third of Book II, all of Book IV ("De dialectica") and about a third of Book V ("De rhetorica"). Thus, we are dealing not only with divergent scholia, but also with a greatly expanded commentary vis-à-vis Lutz's edition of "Dunchad."

Let us now consider the individual papers. I leave aside Teeuwen's introduction, which is mainly a synopsis of the individual contributions. Teeuwen begins the volume with her own paper, "Writing Between the Lines: Reflections of Scholarly Debate in a Carolingian Commentary Tradition" (11-34), underscoring the lack of unity of OGT and repeating her hypothesis that the tradition sprang out of the close collaboration of several scholars. In disposing of Dunchad's authorship, however, she does not present the evidence entirely fairly. The only contemporary evidence for a commentary by a Dunchad on Martianus was published by Mario Esposito in 1909. This is a misplaced leaf in London BL Reg. 15. A. XXXIII (saec. IX), stating that a certain Duncaht, an Irish bishop who taught at Saint-Remi (Rheims), wrote a commentary (commentum) on the "astrologia" of Martianus Capella for his students there. Teeuwen claims that Dunchad (Duncaht) taught during the reign of Charles the Bald, thus ruling him out as author of OGT. Teeuwen has vigorously argued for re-dating VLF 48 to ca. 830 (here 14-18). But since the notice in the BL Reg. manuscript provides no evidence of a floruit for Dunchad, her argument is moot. This objection hardly proves, however, that a Duncaht or Dunchad wrote the commentary on Martianus that was edited by Lutz, nor does it invalidate the hypothesis of multiple "authors."

Sinéad O'Sullivan follows with "The Stemmatic Relationship between the Manuscripts Transmitting the Oldest Gloss Tradition" (35-54). This is clearly a distillation of the recensio codicum undertaken for her edition, and a welcome contribution here. O'Sullivan divides the commentary into three main groups A, B, and C, each with a posited subarchetype. Group A contains the oldest manuscripts (first half of the ninth to the tenth century). The grouping is established primarily by the scholia themselves, but these are confirmed by parallel groupings of the Martianus texts which the scholia accompany, and by comparison of the diagrams and illustrations. A clear stemma accompanied by a table of sigla is given at the end. All together there are fifteen manuscripts of OGT, of which only two are written continuously and lack the source text: Pd (Paris 12960, Lutz's base text) and Or (Orléans 191), both of which belong to group B. The question of why there are any copies written continuously at all is not addressed. Along the way O'Sullivan points out obvious later additions such as those made by Rather of Verona. It would have helped, I think, to have seen more examples of how the three strands interrelate and differ, but there is only so much one can do in an article, and O'Sullivan has, after all, given us an edition to consult.

Calvin Bower's contribution is entitled "Quadrivial Reasoning and Allegorical Revelation: 'Meta-Knowledge' and Carolingian Approaches to Knowing" (57-73). Thankfully, Bower defines these heady terms at the start. "Meta-knowledge" is the transcendent knowledge that is the goal of Platonic reasoning; "quadrivial reasoning" is defined as "the systems of thinking defined by Boethius" appropriate to the quadrivial disciplines; "allegorical revelation" refers to the more mystical process of learning. Bower argues that Boethius' treatises on arithmetic and music are "foundational treatises in the Neoplatonic tradition," whose treatment of quantity is aimed at the understanding of incorporeal essences. The works of Martianus and Boethius, though very different from each other, became the crucial sources for the creation of "a secular curriculum" in the Carolingian schools. Bower connects the commentaries of Eriugena and VLF 48 with the later work of Regino of Prüm in seeing the liberal arts as "penetrable paths to transcendent knowledge." He points out that the commentary tradition on Boethius' De institutione musica is noticeably different from that on Martianus, the former being didactic or explanatory, the latter being "developmental." Yet the two traditions are united by their emphasis on non-corporeal knowledge.

Anneli Luhtala, "On Early Medieval Divisions of Knowledge," provides an excellent discussion of the debt of Carolingian scholars, principally Alcuin and Eriugena, to the Neoplatonic view of the role of the liberal arts developed in late antiquity (Marius Victorinus, Augustine, and Boethius). She explores in detail Alcuin's De vera philosophia, which outlines his educational philosophy: the knowledge of the disciplines is innate in the individual, but can only be brought to fruition by the teacher's effort "like a spark of fire in flint." Alcuin believes that the liberal arts are indispensable for gaining perfect wisdom; here Luhtala notes Alcuin's dependence on Augustine's De ordine. But following Augustine's later exegesis Alcuin rejects Plato's doctrine of anamnesis and posits the source of illumination in Christ. Luhtala then discusses Alcuin's philosophy of language, moving from the view that the disciplines are (merely) propaideutic to the study of the Scriptures to their being a reflection on the nature of language and its relation to things. She then asserts that Eriugena expanded on a number of the themes of De vera philosophia in his commentary on Priscian, particularly the doctrine that the liberal arts are constituent parts of the soul. Finally, Luhtala turns to VLF 48 and the crucial book on dialectic. There, again, we find the doctrine that the liberal arts are innate in the soul, imbedded in memory, from which they come and to which they return.

Sinéad O'Sullivan offers a second contribution entitled "Obscurity, Pagan Lore, and Secrecy in Glosses on Books I-II from the Oldest Gloss Tradition" (99-121). The essay really falls into two distinct parts, the first dealing again with the text tradition, the second with glosses and scholia that utilize allegory. O'Sullivan treats some of the major centres of transmission of OGT, again in a tripartite division: Auxerre-Tours-Fleury, Corbie-Rheims, and Lorsch-Cologne. Two Insular manuscripts receive attention: Corpus Christi Cambridge 153 and Corpus Christi Cambridge 330, from Wales and England respectively. These share a "running commentary on Martianus" using glosses drawn from Eriugena and the oldest tradition. O'Sullivan passes on to some interpretative interests of the glossators including Greek and unusual words, then to their fondness for allegorical interpretation and the uncovering of hidden matters. A list of allegorizing scholia is given in the notes (114).

Natalia Lazovsky's "Perceptions of the Past in Ninth-Century Commentaries on Martianus" (123-45) takes up a topic that has attracted a good deal of recent attention, namely, the treatment of the classical past in medieval writings. Readers should be grateful to the author for giving a clear account of the branches of the Martianus glossing tradition and the relevant editions (125, n. 5). She notes (126-31) that Eriugena and Remigius make a basic distinction between historia and fabula, and gives examples. She also offers a good discussion of the intrusion of Euhemerism into the interpretation of fabulae. All of this is valuable, but I can only wonder why she did not draw our attention to the problem of the dearth of classical historical sources in the ninth century. (A footnote at the end of the article referencing Reynolds' Texts and Transmission hardly suffices.) Most scholars of the time were forced to rely on encyclopedias (Isidore) and literary commentaries (Servius) for their information on the Greek and Roman past. Lozovsky informs us that Eriugena knew that Martianus was a Carthaginian and knew the distinctions praenomen, cognomen, and agnomen, but does not tell us that in the same scholion (Annotaciones, praef.) Eriugena speculated that Martianus was a student of Cicero. His evidence? Martianus borrowed Ciceronian examples for his own "De rhetorica"!

Mary Garrison's paper, "Questions and Observations based on Transcribing the Commentary on Books IV and V, Dialectic and Rhetoric" (147-76), treats a number of topics. She begins with the role of Alcuin in transmitting works preserved in England to the continent. I should like to have seen more detailed discussion of Alcuin's role in transmitting Boethius' De consolatione to the continent, nor am I convinced that Alcuin's role in transmitting Priscian was particularly decisive, given an independent ninth-century Irish tradition of Priscian commentaries. The main part of the paper attempts to find sources for the glosses to books IV and V. Garrison notes that there is little evidence for extensive quotation from known works of Late Antiquity and the early Middle Ages. Rather, it appears that the commentator/s was/were a highly learned individual(s) who wrote from memory; another possibility is that he (or they) expanded brief quotations from classical (rather than late antique) sources. In a final section, Garrison attempts a solution to one obviously corrupt scholion, "PALES dea papulorum," proposing a series of sound and/or palaeographical mutations that would reduce papulorum to padulorum, thus connecting palus, "swamp" (presumably concealed in PALES) with the Italian word padule via Vulgar Latin padulum (?). From this she hypothesizes an Italian scholar working as a colleague with the other creators of OGT. An Italian created ex emendatione apparently seemed preferable to a simple orthographical correction: dea pabulorum, Pales herself, who is not a swamp, but the goddess who blesses the fodder (pabula) and the animals at the feast of the Parilia.

Jean-Yves Guillaumin's contribution, "Quelques thèmes récurrents dans les gloses du 'plus ancien commentaire' sur Martianus Capella VII (manuscrit de Leyde, VLF 48)" (177-92), is a finely focussed essay. Its theme is the use in OGT of the Pythagorean theory of the monad and the dyad as mediated through Latin sources down to Isidore. Guillaumin invokes the views of Augustine (De musica) and Boethius (Institutio arithmetica) and their effects on the anonymous commentator (VLF 48) on Martianus Capella's "De arithmetica." The entire tradition accepts the Pythagorean axiom that the monad is not itself a number, but the principle of all numbers. Disagreement arises over the dyad, which according to pure Pythagorean theory, is also a principle of numbers (the origin of even numbers), not a number itself. This is affirmed explicitly in Augustine's treatise, and (according to Guillaumin) implied in Boethius'. Martianus, however, states that the dyad is a number in its own right. The commentator diverges from his source text, invoking the authority of Augustine and Boethius, and asserts, "Ternarius primus numerus est," and refers to the monad and dyad together as "numerorum principia." The commentator(s) employs the language of dialectic and claims that the monad is not a species of number, but rather the substance of number in the sense of "(o)usia." They also introduce Boethian language into the discussion by making the distinctions in ui, in potestate, in actu. A surprising intrusion is a scholion on the term "enliticam" (analyticam): "...when, for example, we progress from the monad towards the infinite, and when we return to unity by means of analytica (per enliticam)." One must surely wonder, was a note such as this the inspiration for the central idea of Eriugena's Periphyseon, or is it possible that some part of Eriugena's commentary had infiltrated OGT?

Bruce Eastwood's "The Power of Diagrams: The Place of the Anonymous Commentary in the Development of Carolingian Astronomy and Cosmology" (193-220) is a highly instructive article that examines various problems tackled by Carolingian astronomers: cosmology, the order and orbits of the inner planets, the different lengths of the four seasons of the year, the changing lengths of daylight throughout the year, and solar radial forces. He makes several important general points: (1) that Carolingian commentary on astronomy remained largely descriptive rather than explanatory--an exception was Martin of Laon's commentary on chapter 30 of Bede's De temporum ratione; (2) that Carolingian commentators (including the author[s] of VLF 48) were more concerned to preserve the authority of their source text than to save the phenomena--they were not yet prepared to make the independent observations of their tenth- and eleventh-century successors; (3) that the diagrams they introduced into their texts marked an advance over some of their late antique forebears, and greatly facilitated the understanding of the phenomena described in the source text. Eastwood adds to the complexity of the text tradition as outlined by O'Sullivan by claiming that (at least for "De astronomia") the witnesses can be sorted into an original version and a revision. I take issue with Eastwood on one point (206) that is not material to his argument, namely, that the O version of Eriugena's commentary on Martianus was later than P. I argued the reverse in Jean Scot écrivain (Montreal and Paris, 1986), and produce some additional support for this in a paper to appear in The Journal of Medieval Latin 22 (2012).

Stephen C. McCluskey's "Martianus and the Traditions of Early Medieval Astronomies" (221-44) appears to cover the same ground as Eastwood's contribution. To the extent that McCluskey discusses diagrams and the Carolingian tendency to prefer the written word to observation, this is true. He brings us into new territory, however, with a lucid discussion of the various ways in which early medieval scholars studied astronomy. Besides "the liberal arts tradition" (commenting on earlier authorities), they include computistical studies (reckoning of the date of Easter), methods of determining the time of day, the study of the solar horizon, and predictions of the sun's position in the zodiac (astrology). We learn (225) that Martianus had noted that the distance of Mercury and Venus from earth varied, and that commentators struggled to reconcile this view with the Ptolemaic position that the distances remained constant. Martianus also introduced complexity by positing an eccentric circle or epicyle to explain the fact that the sun did not appear to travel through the zodiac at the same rate of speed. The computistical writers (Bede, Abbo of Fleury) chose to ignore such subtleties, but still were able to compose reasonably accurate computistical tables. (Bede, moreover, revised the earlier reckoning of the solstice and equinox on the 25th to the 21st of the relevant months.) The Martianus commentary tradition comes into play (234) where we learn that one anonymous glossator corrected Bede on the speed of the sun by referencing Martianus. Here a precise manuscript reference would have been welcome.

Ilaria Ramelli draws from her deep knowledge of the entire Martianus commentary tradition to give us "Eriugena's Commentary on Martianus in the Framework of his Thought and the Philosophical Debate of his Time" (245-71). She regards the De nuptiis as a prime teaching text used by Eriugena at the schola palatina. She demonstrates that the Annotaciones (the P commentary) as we know it from the Corbie manuscript Paris lat. 12960 (O'Sullivan's Pd) is an abbreviation of the original: in the twelfth-century Corbie catalogue it is called Martiani expositio a Iohanne excerpta, and Remigius cites Eriugenian scholia not preserved by Corbie (see 248 with n. 9). Ramelli next deals with the relationship between the O commentary, discovered by Labowski (Oxford, Bodleian, Auct. T.2) and edited by Jeauneau, and P (Paris lat. 12960). She notes the various opinions on whether O and P are excerpts from a single tradition, represent two different stages of glossing, or are separate commentaries based on different manuscripts (as I believe), but leaves the question unresolved. She then discusses the close similarities between the Annotactiones and OGT, particularly in respect of books 3-5. The next two sections of the paper (252-65) take up Eriugenian philosophical themes that are foreshadowed in the Annotaciones, e.g. theosis ("deification") and apocatastasis ("the return of all things to God"). The study of philosophy is the route to immortality, and the liberal arts, which are naturally present in human beings, enable the soul to form abstractions. Ramelli suggests that the background to this mode of thought is to be found in OGT. There ensues a general discussion of Eriugena's Platonism with a focus on the influence of Origen on Eriugena's thought, in particular the hexameral structure found in both. Two quibbles: (1) I wonder if the title Periphyseon of Eriugena's masterwork was really based on the title of Origen's Peri archon. Peri physeos was the title of numerous Greek works (most unfortunately lost) on cosmology and theology; and (2) Ramelli may be right in her identification of Origen as the source of Eriugena's grouping of nous, logos, and aisthesis, but I wish she had provided a precise reference.

Mayke de Jong's "'Heed that Saying of Terence': On the Use of Terence in Radbert's Epitaphium Arsenii" (273-300) is peripheral to the central theme of the collection--as the author herself admits--but is engaging and offers good value, especially for what we learn of Paschasius Radbertus' career. The paper concentrates on the two books of Radbert's Epitaphium Arsenii, a "funeral oration' (de Jong's phrase) to Wala, nicknamed "Arsenius,' who was abbot of Corbie to his death in 836. De Jong poses the question of why the tone of the two books is so strikingly different, and why the quotations of Terence, which are frequent in book 1, disappear in book 2. De Jong speculates that the two books were written during two stages of the author's career: the first when Corbie was home to several men who enjoyed classical allusions and were open to secular learning; the second, when these men had left or passed on, and Radbert himself was old and embittered. De Jong argues that at the earlier stage a display of classical learning was an aid to advancement, but this ceased to be the case later; further that Radbert's quotations of Terence derive from the plays themselves as well as grammars. They are used almost exclusively, however, to illustrate linguistic points rather than as situational allusions. This stands in contrast to Radbert's use of Seneca's Ludus de morte Claudii. Anchoring the paper to the theme of Martianus studies is the role of Corbie's library and its holdings of classical texts.

Patrizia Lendinara's "The Sholica Graecarum Glossarum and Martianus Capella" (301-361) provides not only an excellent status quaestionis of Scholica research, but investigates its relation to the various stages of the Carolingian commentary tradition on Martianus. It also offers the first fruits of the author's forthcoming edition of the Scholica (see the appendix, 331-61), which will doubtless replace M. L. W. Laistner's publication of 1923. Lendinara posits three stages of growth of the Scholica. The earliest phase draws heavily on the graeca of Isidore of Seville's Etymologiae; the second incorporates words used in Eriugena's Martianus commentary, or more generally, reflects the tradition of study of Eriugena and Martin of Laon. A final phase (late ninth century) shows the addition of about four hundred miscellaneous Greek works (notably in Oxford, Barlow 35). The appendix presents overlaps between (1) the Scholica and Remigius; (2) with the Martianus commentary tradition (the O and P versions by Eriugena and OGT; (3) between the Scholica and De nuptiis (words glossed differently or left unglossed); and (4) Scholica words taken from the interpretations of the glosses to De nuptiis. A few small observations: It is unfortunate that Lendinara did not make use of Dionisotti's "Greek Grammars and Dictionaries in Carolingian Europe" (The Sacred Nectar of the Greeks: The Study of Greek in the West in the Early Middle Ages, London, 1988), which elucidates the learning resources mentioned on p. 302. The phrase "a few possible echoes" (311) describing the pre-Carolingian fortuna of Martianus hardly does justice to the significant swaths of Martianus' "De grammatica" used in the seventh-century Anonymus ad Cuimnanum (ed. Bischoff and Löfstedt). "Lumine sidero" (321, line 6 up) should read "Lumine sidereo"--see notes to the poem in the SLH edition of the Carmina (ed. Herren, 1993), p.153.

Malcolm Godden and Rohini Jayatilaka, in "Counting the Heads of the Hydra: The Development of the Early Medieval Commentary on Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy" (363-76), announce their project to edit all of the known glosses to Boethius' masterpiece. This should prove a welcome addition to the growing fund of medieval glossaries and gloss collections. The present paper concentrates on the mythological glosses to three of Boethius' metra and underscores the difficulty of establishing affiliations among the glosses. Godden and Jayatilaka, like Bower, emphasize the difference in character between the Martianus glossing tradition and the Boethian. Much of the paper is devoted to demolishing Diane Bolton's thesis that distinguishes a commentary on De consolatione by Remigius from that of the "revisers." Indeed, no attempt to identify a separate commentary by Remigius, or for that matter, any original has been successful (see 366 and nn.). They state that the earliest known manuscript of a glossed De consolatione is Vat. Lat. 3363, written in France in the first half of the ninth century. But I wonder about their limiting the origins of the tradition to "East and West Francia, the British Isles, and possibly Italy," given what is known about the early ninth-century transmission of Boethius in Reichenau and St. Gall. Where do the Old High German glosses fit in? One would have liked a bit more on this subject. In the last part of the paper the authors give examples of erroneous mythological glosses and propose some ingenious solutions.

Looking at the volume (and project) as a whole, a few matters continue to trouble. What if Bischoff was right about the date of VLF 48, the "anchor manuscript" of OGT? If it was written in the second half of the ninth century (thus Bischoff), and at Corbie (as all agree), it would have been open to interpolations from the Eriugena commentary tradition. We know that Eriugena was working on Martianus at least by 851. As Ramelli reminds us, the Annotaciones (ed. Lutz) are excerpta. Thus it becomes dangerous to label a particular scholion in VLF 48 as "not Eriugena." This is complicated, moreover, by evidence suggesting that there is more to the O version (ed. Jeauneau) than we currently have. Also, I continue to be puzzled by the democratic model proposed for the composition of OGT. Did scholars sit at a common table and devise explanations to passages, then hammer out a common gloss? I suppose that this model might apply to John Scottus and "Nisi Fortinus" working together on the Periphyseon, but there one sees an author and his assistant in the act of nuancing the author's work. Still, someone had to conceive of and direct the project. Another model is the "single editor" model, such as we see with Bern 363, where an editor-scribe has assembled glosses and scholia from different scholars and inserted them at the appropriate passages with author identifications. But here again, a single individual appears to have taken charge. We may need more evidence for glossing by committees.

That said, this is an important volume that offers numerous insights into the richness, complexity, and occasional brilliance of Carolingian scholarship. Thanks to the editors and contributors we know a great deal more about OGT and its makeup. The collection deserves to be read by every student of Carolingian intellectual history.

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Author Biography

Michael Herren

York University and the University of Toronto