‘The Scholica Graecarum glossarum and Scaliger’s “Liber glossarum ex variis glossariis collectus”’

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Glossaries were the natural storehouses of learning all through the Middle Ages. Composed in different ways, these compilations collected items from Classical, Late Antique and Medieval texts, as well as from big encyclopaedias such as Isidore’s Etymologiae. A number of large glossaries, circulating in multiple copies both in Anglo-Saxon England and on the Continent, contributed to spreading the knowledge of a number of set works and authors, from the Bible to Jerome, from Vergil to Aldhelm. These works were ransacked to pick up words used with a peculiar turn of meaning, archaisms, neologisms and loanwords (but also more common words). Now made into the entries of glossaries, these words lived lives of their own, but still preserved echoes of their former contexts and occurrences, which they contributed to repropose and keep alive.One of these glossaries, the Scholica Graecarum glossarum, seems to have met the needs of both Carolingians and Anglo-Saxons, in that its entries offered a wealth of information on the Greek language and on the works in which the words originally occurred. However, these needs existed not only in the later Anglo-Saxon period, but also in much more recent times. In the sixteenth century, after centuries of neglect, a number of classicists took a renewed interest in glosses and scholia, along with the works of lexicographers such as Varro and of authors such as Plautus and Petronius. One of these classicists was Joseph Justus Scaliger, whose renewed use and study of the Scholica as a repository of erudition is revealing for both the past and the present. With his huge knowledge, Scaliger was capable of shedding new light on old lexical mysteries and of bringing to life precious gems of past learning. It will be the object of this essay to address for the first time the content of the ‘Liber glossarum’ put together by Scaliger, which features so many analogues with medieval lexical storehouses. The more so because Scaliger behaved exactly as his medieval counterparts, eagerly picking up ‘learned’ words and collecting them as a tool to get to the heart of Classical literature, the very bedrock of all subsequent learning.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Titolo della pubblicazione ospiteThe Transfer of Encyclopaedic Knowledge in the Early Middle Ages. Fruits of Learning (Storehouses of Wholesome Learning 4, Mediaevalia Groningana ns)
Numero di pagine46
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2016

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