An offence against language

It is one of history's gravest ironies that in a medieval world sanctioned by the modern observer with illiteracy, ignorance and obscurantism, the 10th-century grammar teacher Gunzo of Novara should be censured by his contemporaries for a Latin mistake he inadvertently made. To be sure, criticizing a 19th-century scholar for bad philology or a 21st-century... Continue Reading →

Medieval cultural influencers

No one mentions notaries, secretaries and other such public functionaries and thinks of power and influence. It's true, in countries subject to civil law, a notary is required to authenticate a power of attorney, write up a will or transfer property. But apart from that, notaries are not seen as agents of cultural innovation, but... Continue Reading →

Knocking on medieval Latin’s door

Where's your Donatus? Medieval learners of Latin would react to this question by scrambling for their Latin textbooks. By the end of the Middle Ages, the name 'Donatus' was used for different kinds of elementary Latin grammar, all related to the works of the 4th century Roman grammarian Aelius Donatus. Every medieval library was likely to hold a... Continue Reading →

Drink or be scolded therefor, only do it in Latin

I good friend of mine forwarded this to me from today's Times. Of course, berating a drunkard in perfect Latin is always advisable, except when the inebriating wine has been an Opimian, or the hungover man is too crapulentus, or intoxicated, which gave the English word 'crapulous'. Incidentally, books are inebriating, too, and one comment about Richard de Bury (1287-1345),... Continue Reading →

Latin in Medieval Britain

The conference is set to begin this afternoon. I will try to cover David Howlett's lecture on Making the Dictionary and tomorrow's sessions. I am particularly looking forward to Neil Wright's talk on The twelfth-century renaissance in Anglo-Norman England: William of Malmesbury and Joseph of Exeter, Charles Burnett's Arabic in medieval British Latin scientific writings and Paul Brand's The Latin of the... Continue Reading →

Notker Balbulus, a brief introduction

These are the notes for a brief presentation I recently did for the medieval Latin course. The topic was medieval poetry and we looked at Notker's sequence 'Laus tibi, Christe'. Notker Balbulus (the Stammerer) - born 840 of distinguished parents, died 912 - monk of St Gall, monastery in present-day Switzerland, founded in 613 by... Continue Reading →

omnes exeunt

All good things must inevitably come to a close, unless Jupiter decree otherwise. As much as we called upon the Muses to contrive ways for us to persuade Olympus to add days to these two last weeks, the answer was, in the end, a Sibyllic no. The King's College summer school in classics had to... Continue Reading →

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