Editorial Note

Abstract

We are pleased to offer you the third issue of JOLCEL, a journal devoted to the study of Latin literature from a European and diachronic perspective. Thus far, we have published two thematic issues. In the first issue, we put a spotlight on the often neglected role of Latin education in the production of literature that is regarded as culturally central. Conversely, in the second issue, we looked at contexts where Latin literature occurs as a marginal phenomenon. In these contexts, Latin literature owes its presence to the enduring centrality of Latin education. In this third issue, thematically entitled “Schools and Authority,” we delve deeper into the mediating role that school authorities---teachers, authors, and commentators---played in the reception of classical authorities.

The school curriculum institutionalised during Antiquity bequeathed to the later history of Latin education a number of authorities who were read as models and as handbooks. Thus, not only were texts from Roman and Greek Antiquity a constant presence in the creation of literary texts, they were also an essential part of school curricula. To take this element into account is to gain an enhanced view on the literary reception of classical texts. The interaction between school and literature is not just a matter of transmission, but also of evaluation, negotiation, and transformation. The goals of Latin education were much broader than teaching how to read and write literature. As Rita Copeland states it in her response to the articles gathered in this issue, Latin education “was the foundation on which reception could be built,” but it “encompassed far more than classicism: theology, the production of new literature, new scientific and philosophical thought, and networks of civil bureaucracy and ecclesiastical administration.” It therefore offers a broader frame from which to study the reception of classical literature in European literary history.

The three articles in this issue exemplify this approach. First, Chrysanthi Demetriou (Open University of Cyprus) looks at the presence of the school author Terence in the plays by the tenth-century playwright Hrotswitha. She opens up a new perspective on this relation by reading through the lens of Donatus’ hugely influential Commentaries on Terence. In particular, she discusses Hrotswitha’s treatment of rape scenes and links it to Donatus’ use of them as an ideal instance for moral instruction.
Second, Brian M. Jensen (Stockholm University) discusses the first book ever printed in Sweden, the Dialogus creaturarum moralizatus. With particular reference to fables attributed to Aesop, he shows how the presentation of these fables depends on pedagogical considerations.
In the third and last article of this issue, Lucy Jackson (Durham University) studies the Latin school play Medea, a translation of Euripides’ play by the sixteenth-century humanist George Buchanan. In Buchanan’s version, Medea becomes more of a rhetorician than a sorceress, thereby holding up a model of Latinity to the schoolboys performing the play.
Finally, Rita Copeland (University of Pennsylvania) brings these three papers together in a critical response piece.

Published
2020-04-14