WEMSK29:Medieval Latin Literature


                       WEMSK29 -- Medieval Latin Literature

1. A good start, just to get your feet on the ground: F. A. Wright
and T. A. Sinclair, A History of Later Latin Literature. From the
Middle of the Fourth to the End of the Seventeenth Century (NY:
Macmillan, 1931).  Nice to page through or do TOC; not of much use
for scholarly work.

2. Taxonomy: Gustav Groeber, "Uebersicht ueber die lateinische
Literatur von der Mitte des 6. Jahrhunderts bis 1350," in Gustav
Groeber, Grundriss der romanischen Philologie, 2. Band, 1.
Abteilung, 3. Abschnitt (Strassburg: Truebner, 1902), 96-432.  A
good listing of the corpus.

3. For the early Middle Ages:

a. Martin Schanz, Carl Hosius, Gustav Krueger, Geschichte der
roemischen Literatur bis zum Gesetzgebungswerk des Kaaisers
Justinian, 4 vols. Handbuch der Altertumswissenschaft, 8. Abteilung
(Munich: Beck, 1914-1935). Good in every way. Note that some
libraries (e.g. mine) do not always analyse, so you may need to
know that it is in the Handbuch der Altertumswissenschaft in order
to look it up.

b. Wilhelm S. Teuffel, Geschichte der roemischen Literatur, 6th ed.
Wilhelm Kroll and Franz Skutsch, 3 vols. (Leipzig: Teubner, 1910-
1916). Brings you down to Paulus Diaconus. There is an English
translation available.

4. For the Middle Ages in general:

a. Max Manitius, Geschichte der lateinischen Literatur des
Mittelalters, 3 vols., Handbuch der Altertumswissenschaft, 9.
Abteilung (Munich: Beck, 1911-1931).  The single best work on the

b. Franz Brunhoelzl, Geschichte der lateinischen Literatur des
Mittelalters, 2 vols. (Munich: Fink, 1975-1992). Note particularly
the Bibliographische Anhaenge.  Note the French translation, by
Henri Rochais, with additional bibliography by Jean-Paul Bouhot
(Turnhout: Brepols, 1990-), 2 vols. in 3. Kind of brings you up to
date; start off with Manitius.

c. Not so compendious as the above, but a good read and basic
bibliography: Joseph de Ghellingck, L'Essor de la litterature
latine au xiie siecle, 2 vols. Museum Lessianum - Section
Historique, No. 4 (Brussels: L'Edition Universelle, 1946).  Good
coverage, bibliography.

5. For poetry:

a. Joseph Szoeverffy (Sjo"ve/rffy), Secular Latin Lyrics ... from
the tenth to the late fifteenth century, 3 vols. Publications of
the Archives for Medieval Poetry, main ser., 25-27 (Concord, NH:
Classical Folia Editions, 1992-94). Thorough, as all the works of
this scholar.  Can't say much for the printing. Perfect binding,
not easy to use. Good place to look for anything.

b. F. J. E. Raby, A History of Christian Latin Poetry from the
Beginnings to the Close of the Middle Ages, 2d ed. (Oxford:
Clarendon, 1966).

c. F. J. E. Raby, A History of Secular Latin Poetry in the Middle
Ages, 2d ed., 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1967).

d. For the poems discussed by the above and in general: The Oxford
Book of Medieval Latin Verse, ed. F. J. E. Raby (Oxford: OUP,

6. If you need an English translation:

a. Clarissa P. Farrar and Austin P. Evans, Bibliography of English
Translations from Medieval Sources.  Records of Civilization.
Sources and Studies, 39 (NY: Columbia University Press, 1946).

b. Mary Anne Heyward Ferguson, Bibliography of English Translations
from Medieval Sources, 1943-1967.  Records of Civilization.
Sources and Studies, 88 (NY: Columbia University Press, 1974).

c. The Literatures of the World in English Translation.  A
Bibliography.  A series of books by Frederick Ungar Publishing Co.,
New York:  I: The Greek and Latin Literatures, ed. George B. Parks
and Ruth Z. Temple (includes Byzantine, Medieval Latin, and even

d. After that:

1.Index translationum (Paris: International Institut of
Intellectual Cooperation, 1932-40; UNESCO 1949-).  An annual
bibliography, covering about 75 countries. Available also on CD-

2. Index translationum.  Cumulative index to English translations,
1948-68, 2 vols. (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1948-68).

3. There is a good continuation of Ferguson online:


7. You might enjoy reading the series of articles in
Mittelalteinische Dichtung, ed. Karl Langosch. Wege der Forschung
149 (Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, 1969).

8. A must read and companion: Ernst Robert Curtius, Europaeische
Literatur und lateinisches Mittelalter (Bern: Francke, 1948).
Englished as: European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages. Trans.
Willard R. Trask. Bollingen series, 36 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton
University Press, 1953).  There are translations also into Spanish,
French, Portuguese and Italian.  An outstanding book in which
Curtius reinvents the topos.  It is available in a Harper
paperback, so you can buy it cheap.  Keep it around. Do not neglect
the excursus.  A good handy book based on Curtius, offering a list
of topoi, etc., is Leonid Arbusow, Colores rhetorici, 2d ed. by
Helmut Peter (Goettingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1963).

9. Works on he Latin literature of a particular tradition, such as
Lapidge and Sharpe for England, Diaz y Diaz for Spain, Lehmann for
Scandinavia, will be listed under those traditions, e.g. Old
English, Old Spanish, Old Norse.

10. A good survey, by various authors, with bibliography, from a
genre standpoint: Guglielmo Cavallo, Claudio Leonardi & Enrico
Menesto\, eds., Lo spazio letterario del medioevo, Series 1, Il
medioevo latino, Vol. 1.2 Vecchio e nuovi generi letterari (Rome:
Salerno, 1993). Covers a good deal of what WEMSK covers; varying,
but worth looking at.

John B. Dillon Adds
1.  Add Medioevo Latino: Bollettino bibliografico della cultura europea dal secolo VI al XIII (Spoleto: Centro italiano di studi sull’Alto Medioevo, 1980- ).  The most comprehensive annual bibliography; medieval authors entered under Latin name-forms.

2.  For older bibliography, a good starting point for many authors and
other topics is still Martin R. P. McGuire and Hermigild Dressler,
Introduction to Medieval Latin Studies: A Syllabus and Bibliographic Guide, 2d ed. (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1977).  Covers a lot besides literature but there's plenty specificially on lit. as well.

3.  Apropos of 4b. "Franz Brunhoelzl, Geschichte der lateinischen Literatur des Mittelalters, 2 vols. (Munich: Fink, 1975-1992)":   Technically, this should be cited as an open entry ("1975-  "); the work reached volume 2 in 1992, bringing coverage up to the middle of the 11th century, but half (at least) remains undone.  A "Vorbemerkung" in vol. 2 holds out the possibility that more may yet appear.

4.  In 4c., for "de Ghellingck" read "de Ghellinck" (a venial typo to be sure, but electronic catalogs are very unforgiving).  One might also have a look at his Littérature latine au moyen âge (Paris: Bloud & Gay, 1939; 2 vols.).   This brings one up only to St. Anselm, so its coverage only got about as far as Brunhoelzl has to date (does anyone see a pattern here?); while older than B., it's in a different national tradition, is briefer and has a differing thematic approach that some will find useful.

5.  Apart from Manitius (still The Book here, though its age shows in many places) many general treatments and anthologies rarely get past the middle of the 13th cent. (if, indeed, they get that far; see paras. 3 and 4, above).  People reading e.g. Raby, Secular Latin Poetry, or consulting McGuire/Dressler, should be cautioned that the writing of medieval Latin literature did not conveniently cease either with the end of the "long twelfth century" or with the death of Frederick II.  National treatments are sometimes much better on this score, but a post-Manitius broad overview or the later Middle Ages remains a desideratum.

Jim comments:

Someone asked me sometime back: "How do you keep up?" My only truthful
answer was "Badly."  Added to this is slipshoddiness.  I forgot in
mentioning Lo spazio letterario to mention the most important of their
volumes:  Cronologia e bibliografia della letteratura mediolatina, dir. By Guglielmo Cavallo, Claudio Leonardi and Enrico Menesto\. Lo Spazio
letterario del medioevo. 1. Il medioevo latino, vol. 5 (Rome: Salerno
Editrice, 1998.  This large volume (all 5 are large) contains a timeline for happenings, sort of on the order of the Kulturfahrplan, with history and ecclesiastical history on the left page, cultural life on the right.  Then ,follows a bibliography on the order of WEMSK, of various things like liturgy", "liturgical books"; then a bibliography divided by centuries, VI-XIII, with a short vita of each person dealt with.  It is good.

John B. Dillon adds: This bibliography has a named author: Silvia Cantelli Berarducci.  Her "Bibliografia della letteratura mediolatina" is located at pp. 281-725.  Two important limitations: it excludes most anonymous texts; coverage ends at the year 1328.

In suggesting that the annual bibliography Medioevo Latino be added in
WEMSK 29 I cited it according to the way it is likely to appear in most
library catalogs, namely, in the initial form of title and subtitle.  But the subtitle, indicating centuries of coverage, has actually changed over time.  From vol. 1 (1980) through vol. 12 (1991) this was: Bollettino bibliografico della cultura europea dal secolo VI al XIII.  With vol. 13 (1992) and continuing through vol. 15 (1994) this was changed slightly to show coverage of the 14th century:
Bollettino bibliografico della cultura europea dal
secolo VI al XIV.  Starting with vol. 16 (1995) and continuing through the present (latest is vol. 21 [2000]) the subtitle reflects coverage through the 15th century: Bollettino bibliografico della cultura europea da Boezio a Erasmo (secoli VI-XV).  The change at vol. 13 did not extend to early writers of humanistic Latin: Iohannes Boccacius and Franciscus Petrarcha do not show up until vol. 16 and after, where they now rub shoulders with Poggius Bracciolini Florentinus, Laurentius Valla, and Angelus Politianus, to say nothing of Iacobus Wimphelingius and Erasmus Desiderius Roterodamus (in each case, these are to be found under the first element of the cited name forms).  Thus, after a period of employing other (e.g., movement) criteria, Medioevo Latino has now arrived at the same wisdom employed by MEDTEXTL: the chronological scope of "Middle Ages"/"Medioevo" is essentially 500-1500 and whatever falls within these parameters is pertinent.

For a variety of reasons, most of the better known surveys of medieval
Latin literature and the McGuire/Dressler bibliography are not nearly so extensive in their coverage.  A brief table of their stopping points follows:

       Ends in 11th cent.
de Ghellinck (Litterature + Essor)
       Barely gets into the 13th cent.
Raby, Christian Latin Poetry
       Basically ends with 13th cent.; brief treatment of early 14th
Raby, Secular Latin Poetry
      Ends in early 13th cent.; occasional treatment of later 13th
      Intended to end with 15th cent.; reached mid 11th cent. in 1992.
        Period coverage ends with the 12th cent.

Hence the importance of national coverage, when it exists, for at least the 13th century and beyond.  For England, as Jim says, we have Lapidge and Rigg (I would now add Sharpe); for Italy, there's Bertini through the 13th cent. and, for the 13th, 14th, and 15th cents., fair to good coverage in some multi-volume histories of Italian literature.  Other national traditions, anyone?

Tom Izbicki  adds: Also there is the CD-ROM version:
Medioevo latino:  a bibliographical bulletin of European culture from
Boethius to Erasmus (VIth to XVth century) on CD-ROM (Florence:  SISMEL, 1998).  The coverage of the first release - according to the flier: vols. 1-10 (1980-1989) & 17 (1996).