The Medieval Review 16.11.11

Codoñer, Carmen, and Paulo Farmhouse Alberto, eds. Wisigothica after M. C. Díaz y Díaz. mediEVI, 3. Firenze: Sismel, 2014. pp. xxiv, 763. €68.00 (paperback). ISBN: 978-88-8450-543-9 (paperback).

Reviewed by:

Jamie Wood
University of Lincoln

This weighty collection of studies will stand as a fitting tribute to the work of Manuel Cecilio Díaz y Díaz, perhaps the foremost philologist of the early medieval Iberian world working in the second half of the twentieth century. The long appendix with which the volume closes, which lists Díaz y Díaz's works (689-715) and was put together by Manuela Domínguez, is testament to the volume of his work across seven decades. His influence in the fields of philology, manuscript studies, history, and the transmission and reception of texts are amply represented in this volume. The editors announce in their preface that this volume was designed as more than a standard festschrift and the studies included in the volume confirm this claim, although the size of the volume, disparity in length of the chapters, and variety of subjects tackled mean that there is some lack of overall focus. Greater editorial control would also have helped to standardize features such as the layout of the chapters. Nonetheless, there is much to admire here, including a number of studies that should serve as definitive in their fields for the coming years.

The volume begins with a preface by the editors (in English, Italian, Castilian and Portuguese) that lays out the plan for the work. There are twenty-five chapters, in Castilian (11), English (4), Portuguese (4), French (4) and Italian (2), the appendix listing the works of Díaz y Díaz, an index of manuscripts (719-727) and a general index (729-761). Each chapter is accompanied, on the final page, by an abstract (in English). The work is divided into three uneven parts: (1) Visigothic and Mozarabic Textual Production, including chapters 1-13; (2) Circulation of Texts, chapters 14-22; (3) Textual and Cultural Receptions, chapters 23-25. It is impossible to review all of the chapters in detail, so in what follows I will offer a survey and pick out some highlights.

The first and longest part of the volume focuses on various aspects of textual production in the Iberian peninsula in the Visigothic and Mozarabic periods, although there is an overwhelming focus on the Visigothic period (seventh century, mainly) and on the works of Isidore of Seville (especially his grammatical and scientific works). One of the editors, Carmen Codoñer begins with "La sententia y las Sententiae de Isidoro de Sevilla", which charts the technical meaning of sententia and its application in the works of Isidore and some predecessors, including Prosper of Aquitaine and Martin of Braga. Particular focus is placed on one of Isidore's most widely disseminated works, the Sententiae, a text which, intriguingly, Codoñer suggests may have served a catechetical function (15).

María Adelaida Andrés Sanz analyses quotations from the psalms in nine of Isidore's works, connecting them to a particular strand within the Visigothic-Mozarabic tradition but to no preserved psalter. She also suggests that Isidore was familiar with the texts of other Latin adaptations of the psalter. The origins, scope and later reception of Isidore's knowledge of arithmetic and geometry are charted in Jean-Yves Guillaumin's chapter. Manual E. Vázquez Buján examines the question of Isidore's reception of the Hippocratic Aphorisms in the Etymologiae, concluding that a direct influence is unlikely. Instead, Isidore is more likely to have derived Hippocratic material via intermediary medical sources. In "Fuentes intermedias y latín vulgar: nuevas perspectivas para el estudio del léxico técnico en las Etimologías de Isidoro de Sevilla", Arsenio Ferraces Rodríguez examines three passages from the Etymologiae in order to understand Isidore's use of technical language.

The broader cultural context in the Visigothic period is dealt with in two excellent chapters. José Carracedo Fraga explores the reception and transmission of ancient grammarians. Especially interesting is the study of the variety of grammatical texts produced in the Visigothic period, which ranged from the elementary to the advanced level. There are interesting connections here to other chapters in the volume, including those by Codoñer on the Sententiae and Cardelle de Hartmann on the Etymologiae. Also relevant in this regard is Paulo Farmhouse Alberto's "Poetry in seventh-century Visigothic Spain." For me, this is the strongest chapter in the volume and offers a comprehensive answer to the question: "what IS Visigothic poetry?" (175) through a survey of the educational, literary and social contexts of poetry in the period. The chapter includes a detailed catalogue of relevant sources and manuscripts.

Three chapters deal with epigraphy. Isabel Velázquez provides an important overview of current scholarship on the epigraphic evidence. This chapter would provide a useful starting point for those embarking on the study of inscriptions for the Visigothic period in Iberia. In "A população de Mérida e de Mértola nas fontes epigráficas," M. Manuela Alves Díaz and Catarina Gaspar offer a short yet detailed study of the population of the Lusitanian cities of Mérida and Mértola based on analysis of funerary inscriptions, identifying similarities in terms of international trading connections but differences in terms of social and organizational scale (Mérida was capital of the province). Maurilio Pérez González studies the Latin of Mozarabic inscriptions. He begins by surveying various uses of the term "Mozarabic" before establishing and then analyzing a diplomatic edition of 59 inscriptions, divide into three groups (Andalusian, Toledan, Leonese/Castilian).

Francesco Stella edits the Confessio beati Isidori, a poem in 34 hexameters probably written in seventh or eighth century Spain and transmitted in the manuscript Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, MS lat. 8039. In "Piezas extravagantes del códice conciliar emilianense," Gonzalo Martínez Díez explores a number of council records now appended to the codex known as the Emilianense, transcribed between 992 and 994 at the monastery of San Millán de la Cogolla. Three of these texts are edited in an appendix: (1) the Canones Urbicani of 465; (2) a law of Theoderic the Ostrogoth promulgated in 508; and (3) the canons of the council of Toledo of 597. Luis A. García Moreno offers a detailed survey of the historical writings of the period that followed the destruction of the Visigothic kingdom in 711-719. Both Christian and Muslim works are covered, the latter through the evidence of a range of indirect witnesses.

Part 2, on the circulation of texts, includes a number of chapters that focus on the transmission and reception of Isidore's writings. Jacques Elfassi studies the diffusion of the Synonyma of Isidore in medieval Spain, listing manuscripts (including those now lost) and texts which borrow directly from the source. Rodrigo Furtado makes some important points concerning the textual tradition and transmission of Isidore's historical writings, calling into question, if not overturning, some long established orthodoxies. Carmen Cardelle de Hartmann deploys manuscript and textual evidence, mainly from the eighth to eleventh century, to unravel the later reception of Isidore's Etymologiae. This chapter should serve as an important point of reference for future studies of the Etymologiae as it demonstrates the various uses to which the work was put in a variety of contexts, including for teaching.

Arnaldo do Espírito Santo addresses cross references in the works of John Cassian, touching briefly on their later reception in monastic contexts in Suevic Gallaecia. In "De orientis partibus in Hispaniam: A recepção de Efrém Sírio," Abel N. Pena examines the reception of the sermons of Ephrem the Syrian in early medieval Iberia, contextualized against a brief survey of commercial and other contacts between the peninsula and the East.

Veronika von Büren and Fabio Gasti examine the reception of Isidore in the De natura rerum of Winithar (active ca. 760-780) and the De rerum naturiis of Hrabanus Maurus (d. 856) respectively. Jean Vezin's brief chapter provides a description and palaeographical analysis of the earliest document in Visigothic script in France, a privilege granted to the monastery of San Salvador de Oña in 1033. Aries A. Nascimento examines the evidence for a now lost twelfth-century manuscript from Lorvão in Portugal in order to understand the development of the monastery there in the face of outside pressure for reform.

Although the shortest of the book, Part 3--"Textual and Cultural Reception"--incorporates three impressive chapters on the reception and reconstruction of Visigothic texts and manuscripts and memories in the early modern period. In a typically detailed chapter ("Ambrosio de Morales, Bishop Pelayo of Oviedo and the lost manuscripts of Visigothic Spain"), Roger Collins examines the copes that were made in the sixteenth century by Ambrosio de Morales of the historiographical compilations of Bishop Pelayo in the early-twelfth century. Barry Taylor ("Reading Visigothic authors in the Renaissance") offers a chronological survey of the editions of the Visigothic fathers from the beginning of print to the Patrologia Latina in the mid-nineteenth century, before interpreting this data in the light of the philological projects of the Counter Reformation. Ana María S. Tarrío's "Del antigoticismo en la península ibérica: los godos en la cultura portuguesa" is fascinating. It analyses the strong anti-Gothicism of the Portuguese Humanists in the context of Castilian use of the Goths to bolster claims for pan-Iberian unity (under Castilian dominance, of course).

Copyright (c) 2016 Jamie Wood

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