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Glossae – Scholia – Commentarii

Studies on Commenting Texts in Antiquity and Middle Ages


Edited By Mieczyslaw Mejor, Katarzyna Jazdzewska and Anna Zajchowska

The role of commentary as a basic method of research used broadly in both Classical Antiquity and the Middle Ages still awaits further analysis. Commentary as a research and didactic method becomes especially interesting in a multicultural perspective: were Buddhist and Arabic texts commented in the same way as it was done by late antique and medieval scholars? The extensive medieval commentary literature still awaits scholarly assessment from the perspective of theory of literature as well as methodology and history of various scientific disciplines.
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Krzysztof Morta: Ancient Commenting Literature and the Etymologies of Isidore of Seville


Ancient Commenting Literature and the Etymologies of Isidore of Seville

Krzysztof Morta

The Institute of Classical, Mediterraneanand Oriental Studies, University of Wrocław

As he was writing his Etymologiarum libri XX 1, Isidore of Seville probably was not suspecting that his work would soon gain great popularity in Europe and that it would become the main textbook and source of knowledge of different areas for Latin scholars for many subsequent centuries. Even though he dedicated the text specifically to his friends, Sisebut, a Visigothic King, and Braulio, Bishop of Saragossa, he had chiefly in mind the needs of educated people of the Church in his native Spain. However, the concise form together with the abundance of information included (coming from a variety of disciplines, from the seven liberal arts through medicine, history, theology, zoology to such areas of knowledge as the military art, shipbuilding, and running a household)2 appealed to the needs of the Western Europe of the time. Isidore’s Etymologies became the second most frequently copied and read text, right after the Bible.3 Even today, scholars value the work not only as a document of the state of knowledge of its period, but also, because of numerous quotations from non-extant texts, as a source of ancient knowledge, presented from the Christian perspective to the people of the Middle Ages.4 ← 115 | 116 →

As Isidore wished to encompass a huge variety of topics in the limited space, he must have employed certain...

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