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Alciato and the grammarians: the law and the humanities in the Parergon iuris libri duodecim *.

Andrea Alciato (1492-1550) is known to modern scholars for his work as a humanist reformer of jurisprudence and as the inventor of the poetic emblem (Fig. 1.). (1) The twelve books of what he called "Asides from the law" are only marginally relevant to the latter insofar as they contain incidental references to a few of the emblems which subsequently appeared in the collection published by Aldus in 1546. They are, however, the direct product of his work in jurisprudence and his approach to that work as a humanist. During preparation for his lectures, as he tells us in his preface, he was continually encountering in legal texts words and expressions, seemingly obscure or misunderstood by predecessors, which could be explained by reference to works outside the usual ambit of legal studies, works on language, literature, and history. He accumulated notes on these occurrences throughout his professional life and they were published in three collections, the last posthumously. The work belongs in the tradition of humanist notebooks which starts with Lorenzo Valla's Elegantiae, (2) and more precisely to the type of selective philological annotations, or "Gellian" commentary, whose model is the Miscellanies of Angelo Poliziano. (3) It also follows in the wake of the legal Annotatianes of Guillaume Bude, the Castigationes of Pio Antonio Bartolini, (4) and Alciato's own early volumes of legal annotations (Annotationes, Paradoxa, Dispunctianes, and Praetermissa), but is distinguished by the author as belonging in the field of "eloquence" rather than jurisprudence. There is some uncertainty in his mind about the work's place in the hierarchy of knowledge, but it may be seen perhaps as another representative of the development of the humanist notebook from the generalist type of Valla and Poliziano to the specialist type devoted to particular disciplines.


Alciato's enthusiasm for the sort of material he collects in the Parergon iuris is apparent in the first mention of the work in a letter from Bourges in 1529. (5) Not only is this material likely to be welcome to scholars, he observes, but it is a proof of the usefulness and richness of legal studies. He is already talking of"one hundred chapters" and in 1530 of "three books"--there will eventually be 126 chapters in three books in the first collection. (6) However, he decided in 1530 that he should include some material he had left in Italy and publication would have to await his return there, (7) so it seems that he had made many of these notes before he went to Bourges in 1529. He did not return to Italy until 1533, to spend four rather difficult years at his old University of Pavia, where, as he complained to another correspondent, (8) the publication of the Parergon iuris was further delayed because he was much more busy there than in France.

These preoccupations are more likely to be the real reasons for the delays than the conventional ones put forward in the dedicatory letter, where he talks of fears that he may appear to put play before work or mix the frivolous with the serious, though these alleged fears do hint at the relative values generally accorded to the law and the humanities. This dedicatory letter is dated 1 May 1536 and is addressed to Alciato's former pupil at Pavia, Otto Truchsess, (9) who seems to have put some pressure on the author to publish when he would have preferred to wait and include still more of the material he was constantly accumulating, (10) The first volume of Parergon iuris was finally published in 1538, (11) and this, the later books 4 to 10 of 1543 and the posthumous books 11 and 12 (12) (331 chapters in all), are all dedicated to Truchsess, later bishop of Augsburg and a cardinal. The posthumous volumes were edited by Alciato's nephew and literary heir Francesco Alciato, who praises Truchsess for the way he has contained the spread of Protestantism in his diocese--an echo perhaps of Andrea's own leanings towards the empire and the papacy in the later part of his life. (13)

What exactly are these "parerga"? "I have entitled the work itself Parergon," he says in the first dedicatory letter, "for it consists of asides [obiter dicta] which I made when I was doing my job as a teacher and they were digressions [excessus] from the subject." (14) The opening sentence of this letter makes it clear that the work is concerned in fact with rhetoric: "It is accepted by common consent and I have very frequently found that both in public and in private affairs eloquence [eloquentia] has always been held in the highest esteem." (15) The digressions ostensibly consist of excursions into the field of rhetoric, including history, notes on passages, phrases, words, which were found in legal texts, but which could be explained by reference to texts more proper to the humanities, and which might be seen as unworthy of mention in legal studies. "Any passage that came to my attention during my teaching which had some interesting explanation deriving from the humanities I was in the habit of relegating to my notes, lest I should seem to diminish the pride of our forbidding and serious subject of law, and appear, as the proverb has it, to mix foxes with lions." (16)

At this point it seems that Alciato is offering samples of what has long been recognized as his most important contribution as a humanist to jurisprudence: using the techniques of philology and the widest range of literary and historiographical sources to explicate the Diges (17) and other texts of Roman law. Initially at least, and ostensibly, his intended audience is clearly students or clients of the law. Points are often discussed in response to questions purportedly asked in the classroom or by those seeking consilia (legal determinations); some chapters are explicitly concerned to point out the resources available to law students among the precepts of rhetoric; and there is advice to students on study, chapters on the history of the law, and some defensive outbursts against plagiarist rivals. However, the purpose of this account is not to add further proof of Alciato's role as a humanist in the history of the law, but to draw attention to a second preoccupation of the Parergon iuris, one which assumes increasing importance as the work develops, which implies another audience, and which throws some light on another question: that is, the way Alciato regarded work in the philological disciplines of grammar and rhetoric on which he drew.

In the first three books, one may initially form the impression that the resources being taken from the humanities to the law serve this straightforward purpose of explicating the law. But after only the first dozen or so chapters of the first book, one begins to suspect that Alciato has another agenda. The title of chapter 6 is "Definition of 'fame' and 'rumor'; and, since they are very commonly incorrect, some verses of Virgil and Ovid explained" (italics added). (18) Chapter 12 is headed "That in law, members of a clan are not all counted as members of the family; a passage in the Institutes explained and another in Cicero's De oratore, book 1" (italics added). (19) Thereafter we find a number, still relatively small, of chapters where texts are discussed in such a way as to suggest that their intention is to explain literary or historical points for their own sake rather than to contribute to the study of legal texts. In books 1-3 such chapters amount to about seventeen percent of the total. Usually Alciato offers an interpretation which he considers better than that offered by the editors, commentators, or translators of published texts; quite often he seeks to correct what he considers to be an error in a printed text; very occasionally he even suggests an emendation in the received text of a classical author.

Furthermore, although these chapters may start from a legal point to be explained, the explanations of literary or historical texts are by no means all clearly linked to it. Often the link is slight, to say the least; at times it is no more than the loosest association--sometimes Alciato moves on to a point simply because it happens to occur in the same passage as the one he has been treating, or an adjacent one. An example is book 1, chapter 21, where he starts with Paulus' definition of addictio (an assignment to be executed on a given date), but it is apparent that this is merely a pretext to introduce an explanation of some lines in Plautus' Two Captives which the "grammatici" have not understood. (Unfortunately these are lines where the edition he is criticizing 20 has muddled the names of the speakers, thus invalidating his explanations.) He then goes on to an unrelated point in some nearby lines where Erasmus had offered an explanation which Alciato approves, supports this with an anecdote from personal experience, and concludes by reflecting on the timeliness of another proverb. (21) We are by now a long way from addictio. Sometimes, it is clear, he simply cannot hold back from offering interesting information which, in the context, is quite gratuitous, as, for example, several descriptions of epigraphs which are obviously the product of his researches on the monuments of Lombardy. (22)

In the second collection of Parergon iuris, published five years later as books 4 to 10, this apparently incidental interest in literary and historical criticism for its own sake becomes almost an overt program. The dedicatory letter of this collection talks of attacks by critics who would have him stick to his last and not meddle in subjects for which he may be regarded as unqualified. Whether these attacks were real or invented as a conventional device to allow the author to justify himself, they lead to remarks which are revealing in several respects:
 This material is such, because of the variety of the subject matter
 and the many kinds that constantly occur, that it can be added to
 every day. I have worked out and discovered many things since the
 time when I published the first books, and, so that they should not
 be entirely lost, I have decided to set them down in this volume.
 For in teaching or in discussion of the forbidding and rugged
 problems of my discipline of law these rather pleasant byways
 [secessus] can find no place. And if I had my way, the uncultivated
 and the uneducated who shout that vulgar expression "Stick to your
 knitting!" would not get away with it. The criticism certainly has
 led me to observe some restraint in these books too, and to explain
 only those literary points which were related to our discipline of
 law and offered themselves spontaneously. Otherwise, if I wanted to
 gather together all the points I have annotated in every author and
 which I could interpret differently from others, I would have
 undertaken not just books of incidentals, digressions, or what are
 called "extraneous matters," but heaps, forests, thousands of them,
 and I would have gathered, as they say, the gold of
 Midas. (23) And however illustrious and honorable in itself
 everything which pertains in any way to literary studies may be, my
 role as a jurist and my position as a teacher cannot but hold me
 back to some extent, and restrain me from spending effort on such
 literary studies which are exposed to the attacks of any elementary
 pedagogue, and which these rhetoricians mangle in their own way when
 they think they can gain from them immense reputation and huge
 glory. But what else can I do, since just recently there have
 appeared some who have bared the points of their pens against
 Cicero, the father of eloquence, who have mocked Virgil, yet who are
 otherwise, God forgive me, men of great repute, though not, it
 seems, great judgment? I have avoided therefore, as far as possible,
 this risk, and not forced in a great number of the literary ones,
 but I have dealt almost exclusively with those which could not be
 easily separated from the interpretation of our discipline of law.

Contrary to what this passage would have one believe, the number of passages overtly devoted to explanations and emendations of literary texts for their own sake is thereafter considerably increased; the proportion in books 4-10 is nearly forty-two percent. Far from being "restrained," Alciato ranges frequently well beyond what is necessary to explain legal texts, allows himself the loosest associations and sometimes quite gratuitous observations, occasionally accumulating several points on one author in one chapter--five on Seneca in 6.5; four on the elder Pliny in 10.3, for example. (25) Sometimes a chapter has no apparent starting or finishing point in a legal problem at all. This is often the case with discussions of Plautus, on whom it is known Alciato accumulated notes and a lexicon, (26) and who is the author by far the most frequently mentioned in this work. In his case there are considerations of some thirty passages, both suggested explanations and proposed corrections of the published text. The second most frequent is Cicero (eighteen occurrences concerning a wide variety of his works, although in this case the boundary between literary and legal fields is admittedly uncertain), and the third is Ovid, whose Ibis is the subject of six out of seven occurrences. (27)

One example is enough to illustrate the general nature of the "parerga" and give some idea of Alciato's decidedly meandering "byways." Chapter 5 of book 8 sets out to explain "panes / annonae civiles" (annuities drawn on the public purse) and recounts that Vitruvius the architect was granted such an annuity by Augustus, as was Virgil. Alciato finds Donatus' account of Virgil questionable, like other information in this author, whom he categorizes several times as a "grammaticus." The mention of Vitruvius leads him to suggest that the name should be Vitruvius Pellio, not Pollio as in some published sources, (28) because he knows of an ancient inscription in Verona which says, "L. VITRUVIUS L.L. CERDO ARCHITECTUS" and "cerdo" (artisan) means, the same as "pellio" (furrier), according to Alciato, who refers to Plautus' Two Menaechmuses. (29) Erasmus allegedly misquotes this in his adage "Celeus' household." (30) Now the wife of Celeus was called Metanira, as Pausanias (31) tells us, so a verse in Ovid's Fasti (32) should read: "Matre salutata mater Metanira vocatur"--"Metanira," not "Menalina." This is confirmed by Nicander, whose scholiast (33) informs us that Abas, son of Metanira, was changed into a lizard, as Ovid (34) relates (translating kepaoua [mixed drink] as "polenta" [mixture of liquid and barley grains]). Finally, getting back to "panes," Alciato points out that in the tenth satire of Juvenal, the oldest manuscripts give, in the famous characterization of the Roman people: "Duas res anxius optat, / Panem & Circenses," (35) not, as is commonly found, "pannum" (cloth, garment). To link this with the point from which he started, he adds that "bread" here is to be understood, following Suetonius in his Claudius, (36) as the "annonae," the quantity of grain provided annually by the emperors, which Plutarch (37) says cost over 1250 talents, and that a talent was equivalent to six hundred modern gold pieces. The "pleasant byways" have become a maze, a sequence of haphazard diversions unconstrained by any consistent purpose; the confusions are numerous and would be tedious to untangle, but the suggested correction of "Menalina" to "Metanira" in Ovid is accepted.

Alciato's philological methods have been discussed and sufficiently described elsewhere, (38) and there emerges from the Parergon iuris no additional evidence that would lead us to modify this description significantly. Although he often speaks as if more than one source were available to him and asserts that a manuscript or printed text is faulty, he rarely explicitly collates several sources of literary or historical texts. (39) More often he supports his proposals with some parallel usages or a survey of various meanings, though even in this he is seldom comprehensive, and his conclusions about what he thinks are probable or intended readings or meanings are in the end conjectural. On the other hand his philological approach to texts (and his indebtedness in this regard to Valla and Poliziano) is apparent in his awareness of the relativity of meaning with respect to time, (40) and in his evident restraint in proposing changes or departures from the oldest or accepted readings. An example of his relativism is 4.13, where he discusses the authorship of an anonymous work entitled Cato--the so-called Disticha Catonis--and concludes, simplistically, perhaps, but not unreasonably, "the style proves it is of Theodosius' century." (41) As for his conservatism, on at least six occasions he explicitly condemns readings which depart from the accepted text without sufficient justification, in one case pointing the finger at Guillaume Bude. (42)

Of greater interest perhaps is 10.3, where he attempts to defend Pliny's explanations of local time differences against those who say he is wrong. (43) Here Alciato enunciates what he evidently regards as an important critical principle, a principle which says that an interpretation should always be such that it assumes the author is speaking in such a way as to make sense, and he evidently believes that this should apply generally to disciplines other than his own:
 But enough on these points; they are outside the sphere of my own
 profession, but I wanted to make them in order to remind readers
 that an interpretation must always be made such that the author, no
 matter who he is, can be seen to have spoken correctly. (44)

This seems to be a statement of something like the principle of "intrinsic probability," the requirement that emendation must start from the sense. (45) It is difficult to say if Alciato is the first to formulate this principle, but in his case there is the added interest that it may have been analagous for him to a legal principle which he sets out in another chapter of the same book, a principle which assumes that a witness under oath is telling the truth, providing there is no evident contradiction or improbability. (46) The desire to apply the principle as widely as possible, like the discussions of readings in literary and historiographical texts, again shows Alciato going beyond the needs of the law, on this occasion intervening in the general field of textual criticism and basing himself on empirical observation. And the reason for this is clearly that he is really addressing, not just students of the law, but that other audience, the "grammatici" and "literatores," or in this case "mathematici," (47) to whom he cannot resist responding, and demonstrating his competence.

In both the 1538 and the 1543 collections several chapters are devoted to the enumeration of the resources available in grammar and rhetoric which can be used to solve textual problems. While these chapters are all explicitly addressed to students of the law there is little doubt, given the clear intention of the chapters on literary and historiographical points, that these too are intended to establish Alciato's competence as a humanist and even his superiority as a textual critic. Chapters 7-10 of book 1 begin with the assertion that ancient lawyers were certainly skilled in rhetoric, as can be shown from the topoi they borrowed from it. Alciato lists half a dozen examples, such as the topos "id quod frequenter contingit," the common occurrence, that is, the requirement that a choice or decision, be it of a textual reading or a legal precedent, should be based on the example of the commonest cases, not on abnormal ones. (48) Another is the topos central to so much of Alciato's (and Erasmus') thinking, "scriptum & voluntas," the letter and the spirit. In subsequent chapters of these first three books, and in the second collection it becomes evident that "rhetoric" embraces for him more than the trivium subject strictly defined; it means not only elementary grammatical matters such as spelling (3.1) and pronunciation (5.14, 9.3, 4,15), coordinating conjunctions, negatives, the use of "partita" (7.20), and the meanings of the preposition "a, ab" (7.21) and of the conjunction "si" (9.15), not only subjects like metrics (1.47), definitions (9.21), and more topoi such as etymology (1.1, 2, 11, 26-30), imitation (3.5-8), and decorum (5.4, 9.5), but major tools such as the Greek language (1.26, 37, 39, 43, 44; 2.7, 25, 29), and indeed the whole range of those studies, literature (2.39) and history (2.45), which had become the characteristic concern of the humanists. (49)

Book 4, chapter 15 is entitled: "The theory of oratory is essential for students of the law" and is devoted explicitly to the desirability, or rather necessity, of rhetorical studies as a preparation for law, a message Alciato claims to have preached often before. He describes how in classical times students moved from grammar to rhetoric, learned the commonplaces of eloquence, and practised in imaginary disputes based on historical or contemporary events. These were often of a legal nature, similiar to contemporary consilia (consultations), and could be adapted easily to present-day use. (50) The extant Declamations of Quintilian, recently published by Tydeus Ugoletus of Parma, (51) and those of Libanius and Paulus Tyrius, are samples of such exercises: "and there is no doubt that a young person correctly trained in them, would handle civil law with greater proficiency and not 'with unwashed hands." (52) Unfortunately few "grammatici," "stick-wielding rulers of children," (53) are capable of teaching this material, and if they are, they prefer to move on to the "richer and more useful," that is, more lucrative and utilitarian, fields of law or medicine, rather than "grow old among children." Here again, a chapter addressed explicitly to law students slips into observations on "grammarians" and betrays the implicit intention to establish an interest and, indeed, superiority in the other disciplines.

Alciato condescends on occasion to offer morsels to the grammarians for their manuals, as in 7.21, where he suggests they have "omitted through negligence" two unusual meanings of the preposition "a/ab." (54) But the intention to establish competence in the preliminary disciplines is most obvious in the attacks on those who misread or criticize the language of the law. Alciato's strongest criticisms are reserved for those who do not have the necessary knowledge of Greek and history. Book 2, chapter 7 concerns the terms "incola" (foreign resident) and "advena" (foreigner, stranger, alien). A colleague and friend, Jean Pyrrhus d'Angleberme, (55) now dead, had disagreed with Alciato on the use of these terms by the jurist Pomponius. (56) This is one of the "very few" points on which d'Angleberme had disagreed with him in a published work, and Alciato remarks. "If he had heard me defending my views at that time (as he did subsequently) he would have agreed with my opinion on those too." D'Angleberme had pointed out that many teachers of the humanities also disagreed with him. "That I can easily believe," says Alciato waspishly: their opinions were based on their general knowledge of the use of the Greek words [GREEK LETTER NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] and related terms; but the jurists were concerned with something other than explaining the meanings of Greek words. The sarcasm is dearly aimed at the purely philological approach of grammarians who lack the necessary knowledge of the legal context in which the terms are being used. This is why, says Alciato "we see Lorenzo Valla and others of his profession, even the most learned, when they try to restore Greek terms in the Pandects, except insofar as they have made use of the help offered by the old codices, have not got it right one time in ten, because they pay attention to words in isolation and know nothing of what the laws are intended to say." (57) The disparaging reference to "his profession" expresses how those who define themselves, like Valla, as philologists, (58) are viewed by Alciato as rivals in his own profession and considered ill-qualified to work in the areas which they venture into.

His criticism of contemporaries for their lack of sound historical knowledge in his own field is implicit in numerous chapters where he explains points of law by reference to historians' works. (59) As with questions of language however, he goes beyond the needs of the legal texts and slips easily into questions of history for their own sake. In book 4, chapter 24 he defends Justinian against the charge of having blinded Belisarius out of malice and reduced him to beggary, as falsely related by Pietro Crinito. (60) Alciato dismisses Crinito's whole work with faint praise (61) and in this case questions his source, suggesting that, when looking for material to fill his book, he was the victim of a joke perpetrated by some Greek author who contrived a fictional funerary dirge. Neither in Procopius, whom Crinito names, nor in Agathias, "Suidas," or Paul the Deacon (62) is there any justification for this slur on Justinian, who was never guilty of such cruelty. Alciato concludes:
 So I could never easily be persuaded that this was how this most
 eminent general died--not if Pontano should tell me it under oath,
 nor Volterrano [i.e., Raffaele Maffei], (63) who both seem to have
 relied on Crinito without taking much care to ascertain whether he
 took this story from established authors or from some fictitious and
 incoherent ineptitudes such as circulate commonly and which are
 called in canon law "apocrypha," because they are not worth
 explaining openly but should rather be kept in concealment. (64)

Lorenzo Valla appears less of a bete noire than one might expect from the attacks in the Dispunctiones and the De verborum significatione. Alciato criticizes him in seven chapters (on five points in one of them), but approves his opinions in four others, all dealing with points of Latin language. (65) The adverse criticisms concern Valla's failings in Greek, as we have seen, in knowledge of the law and in history. In 2.25 Alciato recalls that he had had occasion before to repel Valla's attacks on lawyers' understanding of Greek terms, (66) but the most interesting reference comes in an addition to earlier arguments concerning the Donation of Constantine. (67) In his Praetermissa Alciato had countered Valla's critique on the grounds that it concerned a historical question without affecting the pope's legal claim. (68) Here he seeks to reinforce this argument by pointing out that certain Longobard kings gave cities and towns to the church, and their example was followed by Pipin, Charlemagne, and some German emperors, with the consent of their peoples. He goes on: "If this is so (and Valla cannot in any way deny it), what does it matter whether this donation was made by Constantine or by these later princes who, with sacred deliberation, handed over lands and cities which they had taken by force?" (69) He then adds what he evidently believes is a conclusive argument, referring to the doctrine of the two swords, (70) by now well established among canonists: "However, it seems to me Pope Boniface VIII, a most acute jurist, had a much more subtle conception of this matter, teaching that according to Biblical law both swords pertain to the pope, the spiritual to be wielded by his own hand and the temporal by the hands of kings." (71) Again the argument has moved well beyond textual criticism of legal works into questions of history and ecclesiology.

Chapter 24 of book 5 is a criticism of two historians who made incorrect statements about the content and intentions of the lex Falcidia, a law concerned with inheritance. The chapter ends: "but it is nothing new for authors in the humanities to make mistakes, when they try to jump into other disciplines, especially legal ones; the proverbial verse is proved true which says 'Let everyone practise the craft that he knows." (72) It does not seem to occur to Alciato that this is precisely what his critics have reproached in him, but the interesting fact here is that the two authors in question are the Greek historian Cassius Dio, of the second and third centuries, and the christian chronicler Eusebius of Caesarea, of the third and fourth centuries. Like Valla and Budd, Alciato makes little distinction between ancient authors and contemporaries when defending his views against the perceived ineptitudes of others. (73) The fault is, as he says "nothing new." Nor is this the only occasion on which his targets include writers of the ancient world; his attacks on those he calls "grammatici" include, as we have seen, Donatus, but also Hyginus, Servius, Macrobius, Priscian, and Aulus Gellius. (74) In the case of Macrobius, in a chapter devoted to legal questions about wild animals hunted and killed on land belonging to others, (75) he defends Virgil, who attributed the start of the Latin wars to such a case and was criticised by Macrobius for allegedly making up a childish and quite unsupported fiction. But, says Alciato, the poet is in fact to be commended for taking a hypothetical case based on the law of nations in which there is some ambiguity on both sides and equality between the opposing parties. Nor is it without precedent, since the cause of all Ulysses' labours was that his sailing companions slaughtered the oxen of the sun and ate them. (76) Here again Alciato is not explicating a legal text but entering into literary criticism.

A few chapters are aimed at contemporary individuals: Rudolph Agricola for two disagreements with Ulpian (1.31 and 2.35); Thomas Linacre on the senses of the conjunction "and" (5.7); Ermolao Barbaro on a word in Plautus (9.17); Crinito (4.24); and Budd (7.20), as already mentioned. Others, such as Giovanni Pontano (4.24, 5.21) and Raffaele Maffei [Volterrano] (4.24, 5.3, 7.3), are criticized incidentally. But his attacks are more often directed at the general class of those he calls indiscriminately "grammatici," "rhetores," or "literatores." In the second dedicatory letter, as we have seen, he rejects the attacks of "the uncultivated and the uneducated who shout ... 'Stick to your knitting!" and the "elementary pedagogues" or "rhetoricians" who mangle texts when they think they can gain thereby reputation and glory. (77) The failings for which he reproaches them most often are their petty and ignorant quibblings. For example in 1.29 and 1.30, dealing with the derivation of "iustitia" and "ius," he remarks that the "grammatici" have criticised the Roman jurists severely over this, and set "inane and contentious snares." (78) In 2.41, a chapter on whether certain words found in the Digest are "barbarous," he dismisses the point with the conclusion "But let's leave this sort of thing to the grammarians to inquire into and distinguish; let it be sufficient for us to have defended Justinian." (79) These quibblings have even led some into the absurdity of finding fault with Cicero and Virgil the very authors whose works set the standard. Alciato had made the point in the second dedicatory letter: "[there are] some who have bared the points of their pens against Cicero, the father of eloquence, who have mocked Virgil, yet who are otherwise, God forgive me, men of great repute, though not, it seems, great judgment," a remark probably intended to include Valla, (80) among others. In 10.16 Alciato answers the question whether the rubric "De probationibus" should not more correctly be singular. Recently some "grammaticus" or other reproached Cicero severely because he entitled his books De officiis, not De officio, and Definibus, not Define. But this Aristarchus, says Alciato, would do better either to put up stronger arguments or to concede the point to Cicero's authority. "For what could be more absurd than for someone who claims to know the niceties of Latin to rebuke its father?" (81)

The outbursts against those who are so presumptuous as to correct the "father of eloquence" do not mean, of course, that Alciato is a Ciceronian. (82) His position on this question is quite clear; such purism would be altogether too restrictive for him. Though Cicero is clearly the ultimate model of prose style for him, as a jurist he needs to understand the language of many periods, from the Twelve Tables (83) to Justinian and even, on occasion, to justify the medieval commentators. Furthermore he needs to use this technical language in his own work, particularly in teaching. As he had said in the De verborum significatione:
 There are perhaps some who will take me to court because my
 language ... does not glow with the majesty of Ciceronian terms.
 But I would like these people to know that this is not to be
 expected of someone who has to handle daily the Bartolos, the
 Baldos, and the Alexanders and authors of this sort ... What would
 they do, I ask, if our texts were drawn up in a rather more "correct"
 style? They would reject them as riddles and number them among the
 obscurities of Heraclitus and Lycophron. And this reproach would
 indeed fall on me deservedly, if, when I professed to explain the
 very straightforward commentaries of Ulpian or Paulus which are
 composed with no linguistic finesse, I had used terms more obscure
 than the authors themselves and had myself needed an interpreter ...
 But as every art has its own vocabulary so we have to use ours ...
 and not invent a new one which no one would understand. (84)

The need to make and use neologisms is a recurring idea in the Parergon iuris too; in 5.19, for example, the word "suitas" (the right of an heir apparent to assume the power of paternity): "from this word [sui] our jurists derived the word 'suitas,' which I am accustomed to use quite often, either because I do not believe that in jurisprudential texts it is required to have everything exactly according to the standards of correctness of the ancients, or because I believe that no less licence is allowed to our doctors than was always allowed to ancient orators and philosophers." (85) The example is almost certainly a response to Valla's rejection of such nouns in "-itas" not formed from adjectives. (86) In 9.20, where he answers those who object to certain words not used by the ancients, Alciato says:
 Some one might say "Why then have you introduced it [ingratitudo]
 into your works more than once?" I answer: "Firstly, I do not
 conduct myself with such scrupulosity in legal commentaries, and I
 leave such observations to those who call themselves Ciceronians;
 secondly I give no little credit to the studies of our own times
 and to the writers who have been pre-eminent in them, among whom
 Perotti, Pontano and Erasmus and many others have evidently used
 these terms as if they had right of citizenship and enriched the
 Latin language ..." But let's leave these things to the
 grammarians. (87)

Alciato would certainly not have thought of all grammatici as Ciceronians, but in this work, at least, he tends to tar them all with the same brush. And, of course, in addition to the usages of the late Latin writers and the commentators, there is the need to admit those of canon law. In 10.13 he begins: "Pontifical laws contain many expressions which are not approved by those who consider themselves alone to be imitators of Ciceronian purity, as, for example, when they mean someone has died a natural death, they say 'He has gone the way of all flesh." (88) Such writers come in on other occasions for a little gentle sarcasm: "'Missa' is a word frequently on everyone's tongue, even used by those who have touched in elegant Latin on theological matters." (89)

The Parergon iuris may seem to us a "farrago," a disconcerting jumble of a book rather than a pleasant "silva" as Alciato would have it. It has little of biographical interest (90) and little about material conditions, though one may note the eulogy of his teacher Giasone del Maino (1435-1519) (91) and the account of the third-century rhetor Eumenius, (92) both of which speak pointedly of the high fees they received. In this selective description, an attempt has been made, not to add to what is already known about Alciato's philological method or to assess his contribution to literary textual criticism--the latter is probably quite minor--but to describe the evidence the work provides of the author's attitude to his subject and others in the educational hierarchy, to his profession and the associated professions of the trivium, in short, of some of his values.

The second dedicatory letter, quoted above at length, defines his view and sets the tone. Otto Truchsess was a former student and subsequently a practicing administrator. To him and to the ostensible audience of students and clients, Alciato proclaims the law with its traditional dignity, an occupation which both requires dedication and confers status. To this higher discipline Alciato genuinely wishes to bring the resources of the elementary disciplines of grammar and rhetoric, literature and history. "Eloquence" is both an essential training and necessary tool for the jurist. But, already in the title and certainly in the dedications, we glimpse a certain fastidiousness and an inconsistency, if not a contradiction. The material which Alciato has accumulated from his reading of literature and history, although allegedly essential to his study of legal texts, is nevertheless, according to him, a digression, a collection of "parerga," "obiter dicta," "excessus," "secessus"--arising from legal studies, but still apparently of questionable status in serious discussion of the law. According to the first letter, he has always set these items aside in his notebooks "for fear of seeming to diminish the pride of this our stern and severe legal discipline." (93) And yet Alciato clearly feels that the literary and historical information which serves to explicate points of law is well justified. It seems reasonable to assume also that the literary and historical criticism which goes beyond this, and to some extent the commendations of rhetoric and the insistence on the value of such training, are meant as demonstrations of his own competence, and that of others in his profession, in the field of eloquence.

But the uncertainty remains and in a way pervades the whole work, not only leaving it a seemingly unresolved jumble of discussion of legal points and of other literary and historical ones quite unrelated to points of law, but making it necessary for Alciato to be a little economical with the truth in his dedicatory letter, and lending a defensive or disparaging tone to the passages in which he addresses his second, implied audience of teachers of grammar and rhetoric. With the exception of Erasmus, whom he always treats with great respect, and Nicolo Perotti, whom he commends twice, (94) his critics are referred to, not in hostile tirades, but in a regularly dismissive, sometimes disdainful way. "But, of course," he remarks at one point, "there are many other passages of this sort in this work of Ovid [the Ibis] wrongly explained by the commentators. (95) Such as occur to me, I shall not be reluctant to mention when opportunity offers, but the nature of my studies will hardly allow me to deviate into such minutiae." (96) His conventional belief in the status of the law has its corresponding conventional sense of superiority to those who profess the elementary subjects, an attitude which remains unreconciled with his undoubtedly real conviction of the importance of these subjects.

This attitude to grammatici and literatores is a symptom of a variability in the use of these terms before and during this period. Valla had not used the term "grammaticus" of himself--he called himself an "orator" or "rhetorician"--but certainly proclaimed himself a philologist, not a dialectician or a philosopher. (97) Poliziano, following the most inclusive definition of grammar as transmitted by Quintilian and Suetonius, had made a point of calling himself a grammaticus in an elevated sense, distinguishing himself as a professor of the enkyklos paedeia, of universal learning, from teachers of the elementary disciplines whom he called grammatistae, literatores, and paedagogi. (98) But Alciato is too conscious of his professional discipline, and of the need for specialist knowledge and technical vocabulary. (99) This leads him to ignore the distinction Poliziano had made and to retain the traditional hierarchy, bringing grammatici, with rhetores and literatores, back to the status of pedagogues, teachers of the trivium, and to distinguish himself as the professional specialist ("my role as a jurist and my position as a teacher"). (100) The position of the Parergon iuris in relation to his specifically juridical annotations consequently remains uncertain: these notes are somehow essential for understanding the law and yet somehow unworthy to be included in proper legal discussion. Perhaps the distinction lies for him between what would be necessary elementary general knowledge and knowledge of the content of the law, its intention and its application. But this is a distinction which, it is clear from many chapters in the Parergon, could not be consistently maintained.

His attitude may seem to be the sort of professional snobbery which is to be found in any age, and is perhaps one of the less attractive aspects of his nature. It is visibly different from the more tolerant and integrated attitude of Erasmus, for whom language studies in the form of the new philology are the essential and acknowledged basis of his scriptural work and theological thinking. (101) Erasmus was unmoved by the disparagement of grammar and rhetoric by such as Martin Dorp and Jacques Masson (Latomus), (102) and clear-sightedly embraced the elementary disciplines, never presenting himself as a "theologian" superior to "grammarians." (103) Alciato's attitude is less well integrated, more fastidious, more conservative, but it may be saved from serious reproach by his evident interest in history and literature for their own sake and his conviction of the value of the humanist method. His advocacy of "eloquence" rises above the pettiness, and it is this element which assures his essential sincerity.

* The substance of this article was originally given as a lecture at the Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies, Victoria University in the University of Toronto, on 5 April 2002, at the invitation of Professor James K. McConica. I would like to record my thanks to him and to the editor and readers of RQ, who gave much helpful advice.

(1) The background on Alciato and humanist jurisprudence is provided by Roberto Abbondanza in three articles: 1960a, 1963, 1970 and by Kelley. The studies by Maclean, chaps. 1-2, and Robinson, Fergus, and Gordon, chap. 10, are also valuable in this respect. The letters referred to are in Alciato, 1953, those to Amerbach also in Hartmann. For an attempt to bring the two areas of Alciato studies together and to fill some of the gaps, see the special issue of Emblematica devoted to him. Abbondanza and Kelley make use of the Parogon iuris, but no extended study of the work has appeared so far.

(2) Valla (1407-57); for his Elegantiarum latinae linguae libri sex, see Valla, vol. 1.

(3) Poliziano (1454-94). See Grafton, 1977, 156-70, Godman, 56-60, and Celenza, 31. See Poliziano, also Beroaldo, 19-24.

(4) Budd (1467-1540); see Bude. Bartolini (second half of the fifteenth and early years of the sixteenth centuries); see Abbondanza, 1960b, Bartolini, and Abbondanza, 1970, 81-82.

(5) Bourges, 27 August 1529, Alciato, 1953, no. 54; Hartmann, no. 1372, to Boniface Amerbach.

(6) 31 August 1529, Alciato, 1953, no. 55; Hartmann, no. 1374, (quamprimum etiam perficero [GREEK TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] centum capita). 3 September 1530, Alciato, 1953, no. 62, to Francesco Calvo (Frobeniis aliud [curabo], puta Parergorum libri tres).

(7) 29 September 1530, Alciato, 1953, no. 63; Hartmann, no. 1467. See also the letters of 5 January and 12 March 1531, Alciato, 1953, nos. 66, 68; Hartmann, nos. 1486, 1508.

(8) 28 January 1536, Alciato, 1953, no. 96, to Viglio van Zwickum.

(9) Otto Truchsess von Waldburg (1514-73) was a fellow student under Alciato of Alexander Farnese, Pope Paul III, and Viglio van Zwickum. See Stauffer. Otto's elder brother Christoph, who corresponded briefly in 1525 with Erasmus (Erasmus, 1906-58 and 1974, Epp. 1625 and 1649), had died only the preceding year in 1535, but Alciato seems to be unaware of this.

(10) 3 September 1537, Alciato, 1953, no. 101; and 22 October 1538, Alciato, 1953, no. 105, to Viglio van Zwickum.

(11) Basle, Froben, and Lyon, S. Gryphius; further editions: Lyon, heirs of S. Vincent, 1538; Lyon, Th. Paganus, 1539; Paris, U. Gautheroult, 1539. The editions used here are from the Opera of 1548 (Basle, M. Isingrinius) and, for the two posthumous books, Omnia ... opera (Basle, ex officina Isingriniana, 1558). References to the work are by book and chapter; e.g., 1.21.

(12) The dedicatory letter is dated 8 May 1551, but the two books did not appear until 1554 (Lyon, S. Gryphius).

(13) See Kelley, 93 and 99. Francesco Alciato (1522-80), appointed bishop of Civita in 1561 and a cardinal in 1565, was a contemporary of Truchsess at the University of Pavia, where he later succeeded his uncle on the latter's death in 1550. See Raponi.

(14) Alciato, 1548, hh [7v]: Inscripsi autem opus ipsum Parergon, quod obiter haec a me dicta cum iam legitimo munere perfunctus essem, atque adeo in ipsius lectinnis excessu fuerint.

(15) Ibid.: Maximam semper cum in publicis turn in privatis rebus eloquentiae existimationem fuisse et communi omnium testimonio receptum est et nos saepissime experti sumus.

(16) Ibid.: Solebam in adversaria regerere si qua mihi inter profitendum interpretatio excidisset quae paulo iucundiorem ex humanitatis studiis originem traheret, ne scilicet tetricae istius severaeque legalis disciplinae supercilium imminuerem et, quod proverbio dicitur, congregare cum leonibus vulpes viderer. For the adage, see Erasmus, 1969 and 1982, I.ix.19; the original sources are Martial, 10.100.3 and Pindar, Isthmian Odes, 4.45-47. Erasmus says the expression means to put together things which are unequal and unlike, although he adds that Pindar commends the mixture of courage with cunning in a brave man.

(17) The Digest ("ordered abstracts") or Pandects ("encyclopedia") were the second part of Justinian's attempted codification of Roman law, undertaken in the early decades of the sixth century. They contain the writings of the lawyers of former times which could be cited in court. Together with the codification of current law, the Codex, and the teaching manual, the Institutiones, they constitute the Corpus iuris civilis. The famous Florentine, or Pisan, manuscript of the Digest, which had been acquired by the Medici in the fifteenth century and was believed by Poliziano to be the archetype (Kelley, 48, 67-68, 70, 95-96; Grafton, 1977, 167-68), a genuine relic of Justinian's time, was jealously guarded. Bude claimed to have seen it (Kelley, 67-68), as did Alciato, in the dedicatory letter of his Dispunctiones (Alciato, 1518b; Alciato, 1953, 231), but it was not published until 1553. They and others had to rely on Poliziano's notes, themselves unpublished until the eighteenth century. The major part of humanist work on the Digest was accomplished by Bude, Alciato, and Zasius, the "triumvirate" of the new jurisprudence, as Claude Chansonnette called them (Abbondanza, 1960a, 74), using other manuscripts.

(18) 1.6: Quid sit fama, quid rumor et, ut plerunque falsa haec sint, Vergilii Ovidiique carmen expositum.

(19) 1.12: Gentiles in iure ad cognatos non referri, et locus Institutionum explicatus; itemque Ciceronis libro de Oratore primo [1.176].

(20) Plautus, ed. Pio, Milan, 1500.

(21) 1.21: "Ad hanc 'addictionem' allusit perquam festiviter Plautus in Captivis his versibus [179-81] quos grammatici adhuc non videntur sat intellexisse, imo et in quibusdam pervertisse: "Agesis, roga emptum, nisi quis meliorem afferet, / Quae mihi, atque amicis conditio placeat magis, / Quasi fundum vendam, meis addicam legibus.' Sciendum igitur sicut dicimus 'venundare' ita vice mutua 'emptum rogare,' id est, 'emere.' Irridet enim senex parasitum cui offert coenam hac conditione ut pauxillo sit contentus. Et cure annuisset ille, addit se vendere pacto addictionis in diem ut, si melior sibi conditio allata fuerit ut, quia alii amici senis ipsi veniant, ille sit exclusus. 'Addicam ergo,' inquit, 'meis legibus, id est meis pactis, hoc convivium ac si venderem fundum.' Quam metaphoram non intelligens, vel non intelligere se simulans, parasitus inquit, 'Proh fundum vendis?' Ad quem senex: 'Tu quidem haud fundum mihi,' hoc est, 'vorabis, comedes, consumes.' Subiicit deinde, 'I modi venare leporem, nunc ictim tenes.' Sic enim legi debere Erasmus noster [Erasmus, 1969 and 1982, adage] optima ratione admonuit. Est ictis mustellae species quam et 'viverram' Latini vocant, ut testatur Plinius nec Raphael Volterranus omisit. Ea viverra lepusculis infesta est; solentque venatores in hunc usum id animal habere quod si, ut plerunque accidit, leporem seu cuniculum venari non possint, deficiente meliore pulpamento, ipsam viverram comedunt. Quod cum ruri essem, eta villico meo factum fuisset, illi Plautini huius carminis interpretationem fere acceptam tuli, adeo non minus quandoque usus ipse confert quam assidua lectio. Videtur in eos proverbialiter carmen illud adduci posse quibus in omnem casum et subsidiali actione (ut nos solemus dicere) ita consultum est ut omnino deficere eis cibus nequeat. Quo exemplo vulgo dicitur 'Deficiente obsonio apponatur caseus.'" This last proverb (When there is no meat, put cheese) is not found in the published Greek or Latin paroemiographers, unless it is a variant of the one found in Plutarch (Moralia 234e, Apophthegmata laconica) and recorded by Erasmus, 1969 and 1982, III.iv.89: "Si caseum haberem, non desiderarem opsonium" (If I had cheese, I wouldn't want meat).

(22) 1.40, 2.13, 8.5. For Alciato's Antiquitates Mediolanenses, composed in 1508, unpublished in his lifetime and only in part since, see Laurens and Vuilleumier, and Drysdall, 2001, 387-88.

(23) See Erasmus, 1969 and 1982, adage

(24) Alciato, 1548, nn. [2r-v]: Cum enim eiusmodi sit hoc argumentum ut propter rerum varietatem et multiplices quae subinde occurrunt species augeri quotidie possit, multa ab eo tempore quo primos libros edidi sunt mihi excogitata atque inventa, quae ne omnino perirent, in hoc albo describenda censui. Nec enim inter docendum atque inter tetricas illas salebrosasque Iuris nostri quaestiones amoenioribus hisce secessibus locus esse potest. Et ut ego velim, non ferrent hi qui, caeterarum artium rudes et imperiti, illud ex trivio exclamarent, "Hoc age quod agis." Quae res etiam effecit ut iis quoque in iibris modum adhiberem et ea duntaxat humanitatis loca explicarem quae Iuri nostro coniungerentur et ultro se offerent. Alioquin, si omnia quae omnibus in autoribus habeo annotata quaeque diversa ab aliis sententia interpretari possem congerere voluissem, non Jam incidentium egressuumve aut eorum quae praeter institutum dicuntur libros, sed acervos, sed sylvas, sed chiliadas describendas assumpsissem, aurumque quod dicitur Midae collegissem. Et quamvis omnia quae ad literarum studia qualitercunque pertinent per se clara honestaque sint, fieri tamen non potest quin Iurisconsulti quam sustineo persona professoriumque munus aliqua ex parte me retrahant. Nec talia moliri me permittant quae trivialis cuiusque paedagogi morsibus sint obnoxia quaeque literatores isti arbitratu suo lancinent, cum inde ingens nomen magnamque gloriam acquirere se posse existiment. Quid enim amplius relictum est, cum nuperrime inventi sint qui in parentem eloquentiae M. Ciceronem styli aciem distrinxerint, qui Virgilium suggillarint, alioquin tamen si diis placet magni nominis viri, licet ut apparet non magni iudicii? Abstinui itaque, quantum fieri potuit, hac alea nec omnino plurima ex humanioribus studiis inculcavi, sed ea fere tantum attigi quae a iuris nostri interpretatione commode separari non poterant.

(25) In the later 11.7 (Alciato, 1558) he brings together no less than nine points on Catullus.

(26) See Abbondanza, 1963, 104, who refers to some notes entitled "De Plautinorum carminum ratione libellus" and a "Lexicon, quo totus Plautus explicatur," published in an edition of Plautus by N. Episcopius (Basle, 1568). Bianchi, 29, refers to the same notes as contained in a work entitled Eruditorum aliquot virorum de comoedia et comicis versibus commentationes (Basle, Herwagen, 1569). I have been unable to see a copy of this myself, but Dr. Paul Saenger informs me that the Newberry Library, Chicago, owns a copy of the Plautus bound with the Eruditorum ... (also 1568; shelfmark Case 4A 125). The latter, which has its own title page and pagination, was clearly intended to complement the Plautus. In it, on 71-125, are the texts of Alciato that Abbondanza and Bianchi describe. Bianchi does not appear to have used the Parergon iuris.

(27) Other authors whom he explains include (in the order in which they are mentioned) Auhis Gellius, Donatus, Livy, Caesar, Suetonius, the two Plinys, the younger Seneca, Virgil, Ennius, Persius, Tacitus, Juvenal, Horace, Catullus, Ausonius, Hyginus, Servius, Martial, Sallust, and Lucretius. The preponderance of Latin authors is noticeable; of the Greeks, in addition to Diogenes Laertius, who occurs three times, only Polybius, Philostratus, Athenaeus, Homer, Aristotle, Palladas, Plutarch, Dioscorides, and Aristophanes are the subject of consideration, and then only once each.

(28) The form accepted by modern scholarship is "Pollio." As far as I know, Alciato's suggestion has not been discussed in any modern work.

(29) Menaechmi, 404: Quasi supellex pellionis palus palo proximust.

(30) Erasmus, 1704, IV.x.41, Celei suppellex. Erasmus also quotes Plautus as saying: "Quasi supellex Celionis, palus palo proximus est" and explains that "Celeus" and "Cello" are interchangeable, like "scorpius" and "scorpio."

(31) Description of Greece, 1.39.1.

(32) Ovid, 1977b, 4.539.

(33) Nicander, Theriaca, 486-87. Scholia, no. 484c, 195. The son's name is given as "Ambas."

(34) Ovid, 1977a, 5.446-61. Ovid does not give the names of the mother and son.

(35) 10.80.81.

(36) Vitae Caesarum, 5.18.

(37) Plutarch, Cato the Younger, 26.1.

(38) See Abbondanza, 1970; Kelley, chap. 4; and Robinson, Fergus, and Gordon, chap. 10.3.

(39) See Alciato, 1558, 11.8, where, in response to Valla's arguments, 1:438-45, in his letter to Alfonso king of Naples ("Duo Tarquinii Lucius ac Aruns, Prisci Taxquinii filiive an nepotes fuerint"), Alciato cites Eusebius, Cassiodorus, Eutropius, and Bede in an attempt to show that Servius Tnlllus reigned for thirty-four years, that in manuscripts of Livy (1.48.8) ten years are added in error, and that Tarquinius Superbus is omitted.

(40) See, for example, 2.26 where a new edition of the Codex Theodesianus (probably that published in Basle by H. Petrus in 1528) gives him the opportunity to describe its history.

(41) 4.13: "opusculi quod inscribitur Cato ... Quis autem eius libelli autor fuerit non saris constat. Porcii enim Catonis procul dubio non fuit. Scripsit ille soluto sermone, citaturque a veteribus non taro: stylus arguit Theodosianum saeculum, et forte Probi grammatici fuit." Theodosius I was "Augustus" and then emperor of the east 379-95. The Disticha are now thought to be of the third or fourth century, with early-medieval additions. Alciato quotes and attempts to correct dictum 4.4.

(42) 1.18: "Non igitur temere a recepta lectione recedendum." 2.6: "qua tamen in re ego nil temere mutandum censui." 4.16: "nisi antiquissimorum codicum scriptura repugnare." 7.5: "Cum enim in aliquibus antiquis codicibus legatur Eruca." 7.12: "ex apicibus, qui in antiquis codicibus coniecturae locum nobis fecerant." 7.20: "non tamen tam facile ab antiquorum codicum lectione recedendum arbitror." 8.12: "contra antiquorum codicum, quos ego viderim, fidem." 12.9: "Haud tamen facile est a vulgata lectione recedendum."

(43) Naturalis historia, 2.181 and 2.92. On the subject of time differences, Alciato quotes Pliny rather loosely (10.3): "Plinius, libro II capitulo LXXI, dum non eodem tempore lucem ubique oriri ostendit, tale experimentum affert quod in speculis praenunciatos [sic] ignes sexta hora accensos compertum sit tertia noctis a tergo ultimis visos. 'Error,' inquiunt mathematici, 'hic est evidens, cum impossibile sit tantam distantiam depraendi quantumvis de excelso toco propter terrae globositatem et radii visivi imbecillitatem.' Respondeo: 'Si sextam horam secundum supra scripta intelligamus, relinquetur ut distantia trium dumtaxat horarum sit non novem; tuncque ratio Plinii erit probabilis.' Et certe eo in libro quibusdam in locis repraenditur Plinius, cum tamen nullo negocio possit defendi si quis rem non accusatoris animo sed aequi iudicis religione perpendat." (In book 2 chap. 71 when Pliny is explaining that daylight does not begin everywhere at the same time, he reports a test in which prearranged fires were lit on watch-towers at the sixth hour and it was ascertained that they were observed at the third hour of the night by those furthest to the rear. "This is an obvious mistake," say the mathematicians, "since it is impossible for such a distance to be covered from however high a point because of the curvature of the globe and the weakness of the signal light." My answer is: "If we understand the sixth hour in the text quoted above to mean a distance corresponding to only three hours, not nine, then Pliny's argument will be probable." It is true Pliny is at fault in certain places in this book [i.e., book 2 of the Naturalis historia] since he cannot be defended by any means even if the point is considered with fair-minded scrupulousness and not with a hostile mind.) The accepted text (Loeb) has "sexta hora diei" and consequently translates: "at noon," hence nine hours before the third hour of the night (9pm). Alciato omits "diei" and seems to argue that the time in question is midnight; the time difference is therefore only three hours. In that case "a tergo ultimis" (those furthest away?) must refer to observers to the west, not to the east; but Alciato does not comment on this phrase. The difference in solar time from one end of the Mediterranean to the other is almost three hours, but at this point Pliny is in fact talking about a case "in Asia." Alciato's "mathematicians" do not seem to have thought of the possibility of a series of signal fires lit one after the other, which Alciato seems to assume.

(44) 10.3: Sed haec saris, quae quamvis extra cancellos professionis meae sint volui dixisse ut admonerem lectores semper earn fieri interpretationem debere secundum quam quisquis fuerit autor recte locutus videri possit.

(45) Hall, 151-53; Reynolds and Wilson, 211. There is no meed to take "recte locutus" to mean "spoke grammatically" in the narrow sense of following proper rules of syntax (see the definition of Perotti in his Rudimenta Grammatices: "Grammatica est ars recte loquendi"--Percival, 237). If one does translate as "spoke grammatically" then grammar must be taken in the broad sense of Quintilian and Suetonius as including exegesis, as, in fact, it was understood by Politian (Scaglione, 66). It is clear that the criticism of the "mathematici" and Alciato's response concern not Pliny's morphology or syntax but his meaning.

(46) 10.10: praesumitque lex unumquemque praestiti sacramenti memorem esse nec temere ad testimonium accedere; ideo semper sit interpretatio ut tides testium salva sit et quantum fieri potest ad concordiam conciliantur ne falsa, varia, pugnantia dixisse pro testimonio videri possint. Oportet tamen eam concordiam verisimilem probabilemque esse. Quod enim verisimile non est quandam falsitatis habet imaginem. Videtur antem probabilis esse concordia quae similitudine legislatorum vel auctoritate prudentium inducitur.

(47) Alciato is extending his target audience here slightly. It is clear that he is not referring to elementary "maestri d'abbaco" since he is addressing a criticism of Pliny's text. Mathematics was generally regarded by the humanists as a quadrivium subject which followed grammar, rhetoric, and dialectic. See Grendler, 310.

(48) Said here to be taken from Hermagoras and Theodorus of Gadara; in 5.16 it is attributed to Theophrastus.

(49) Alciato's own interest in history had been established since the publication in 1517 of the letter to Galeazzo Visconti known in later publications as the "Encomium historiae." See Abbondanza, 1960a, 70.

(50) 4.15: plurimum ad genus iudiciale pertinebant non absimiles speciebus consiliorum, quibus quotidie lureconsulti nostri dant responsa. Adeo ut si illis, quod facillirnum esset, legum loca allegationesque adiicerentur, nihil a consiliis nostratium differant.

(51) The first and only edition by Thaddaeus Ugoletus was of 1494.

(52) 4.15: "nec dubium est quin recte in eis institutus adolescens maiore profectu nec illotis manibus Ius civile pertractaret." For the proverb "Illotis manibus" (meaning "unprepared") see Erasmus, 1969 and 1982, I ix 55.


(54) 7.21: Cum de Grammaticorum studiis loquuti simus, venit mihi in mentem ut praepositionis "a" duas significationes referrem haudquaquam vulgatas aut ab eis animadversas qui, cum plurimas et quidem vulgatissimas in libros suos retulerint, videntur has per incuriam omisisse.

(55) See the article by M. Reulos and P. G. Bietenholz in Contemporaries, 1:57-58 and Abbondanza, 1963, 98. Alciato publishes in this chapter a memorial verse he had had inscribed on d'Angteberme's tomb in Pavia in 1521. See also Erasmus, 1906-58 and 1974, Epp. 140, 725,866,1250 and 1278.

(56) Sextus Pomponius (2nd century A.D.), author of an "Introduction to the law" of which a long extract constitutes the important historical article 1.2.2 of the Digest. The reference here is to D. and 4.

(57) 2.7: "Is igitur Pyrrhus, antequam in Italiam veniret, lucubratiunculas illas ediderat quae etiamnum extant in tres Codicis libris; quo opere in omnibus fere mecum sentit, paucissimis dissidet. Si mea me defendentem turn audisset (quod postea fecit) in eis quoque sententiae meae accessurus. Admonueram quandoque studiosos a Pomponio Iureconsulto 'incolam' dici eum qui in aliquam regionem domicilium suum contulit, quem Graeci [GREEK LETTER NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] appellant; 'advenam' autem esse quem Graeci [GREEK LETTER NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] dicunt. Scribit Pyrrhus hac in re plerosque a me dissentire (quod facile mihi persuadeo) ex humanitatis scilicet professoribus qui vulgo sciunt a Graecis [GREEK LETTER NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] que dici; sicut etiam [GREEK LETTER NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], [GREEK LETTER NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 'advenam' vero [GREEK LETTER NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], [GREEK LETTER NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. Sed certe alia fuit Iureconsultis cura quam vocabula Graeca declarandi. Qua propter videmus et Laurentium Vallam et eius professionis alios, etiam doctissimos, dum Graecas voces Pandectis nostris restituere volunt, nisi quatenus antiquorum codicum praesidio usi sum, non decimo quoque loco vera divinasse, quod ipsi scilicet ad sola verba attenderent, mentem legum ignorarent." For other criticisms of Valla, see also 6.10.

(58) See Kelley, 25-33.

(59) E.g., 2.45 on gladiatorial games and asylum in churches, 5.3 on Justinian's titles, 5.12 on Guelphs and Gibellines, 7.6 on asylum again.

(60) Crinito, 9.6. Pietro Crinito (1475-1507), also known as Petrus Riccius, was a pupil of Poliziano and was associated with the Platonic Academy in Florence. His De honesta disciplina, one of the most popular manuals of the Renaissance, first appeared in 1504. Erasmus also criticized Crinito as a second-rate author. See the article by Thomas B. Deutscher in Contemporaries, 1:358-59. Belisarius (ca. 500-65), the famous general of the emperor Justinian, is best known for his campaign in Ostrogothic Italy, culminating in the capture of Ravenna in 540.

(61) Alciato's chapter (4.24) is entitled: "Belisarium summum ducem haudquaquam a Iustiniano afflictum fuisse; et confutata fabula quam Crinitus, Pontanus, Volaterranus [sic] scriptis mandarunt." He begins: "Scripsit Petrus Crinitus libros 15 De honesta disciplina, de quibus quid in universum sentiam non habeo nunc necesse pronunciare; in partes vero recte Martialis carmen poterit praedicari: 'Sunt mala, sunt quaedam mediocria, sunt bona plura'" (1.16). Alciato quotes from an erroneous text which has the effect of softening the criticism considerably. Martial had said: "Sunt bona, sum quaedam mediocria, sunt mala plura" ("There are good things that [you read] here, and some indifferent, and more bad." Translation by D. R. Shackleton Bailey).

(62) Procopius, author of four histories of the wars of his times, was a member of Belisarius' staff. The Histories of Agathias (ca. 532-80) continue those of Procopius. "Suidas" means the tenth-century Byzantine encyclopedia now known as the Suda. Paul the Deacon is the eighth-century epitomizer of the second-century Pompeius Festus, De verborum significatione.

(63) Giovanni Pontano (1429-1503) was the most important humanist of fifteenth-century Naples, named by Erasmus as a model of Ciceronian style. Alciato criticizes him as a historian here, but elsewhere also commends his attitude to Ciceronianism (see below on 9.20). He seems however to be mistaken about the possible influence of Crinito on him since the latter's work was first published in 1504. See the article by T. B. Deutscher in Contemporaries, 3:113-14 and Kidwell. Raffaele Maffei (1451-1522), translator of Homer and Aristotle, was also criticized by Erasmus for his mistranslations of St. Basil. See the article by John E D'Amico in Contemporaries, 2:366-67.

(64) 4.24: "Haudquaquam igitur persuaderi mihi facile poterit talem fuisse praestantissimi ducis exitum; non si iuratus mihi hoc Pontanus diceret, non si Volaterranus [sic]; quos credibile est Crinito ipsi fidem adhibuisse nec hac in re multum curae collocasse ex certis autoribus hoc accepisset Crinitus an commentitiis ineptisque ex seribliginibus [sic] for stribliginibus, solecisms]. Qualia pleraque vulgo feruntur quae lege Pontificia [GREEK LETTER NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], [hidden] vocantur quod non digna sum ut palam explicentur sed in occulto potius sint tenenda." For this use of the word "apocrypha" see the Patristic Greek Lexicon, s.v.

(65) Alciato opposes Valla in 2.7, 2.25, 5.13, 5.20, 6.10 (5 items), 6.19 and 11.8; he approves in 5.15, 5.17, 6.11 and 7.8.

(66) See Alciato, 1518a, 4.7.

(67) Alciato, 1548, 7.19.

(68) Alciato, 1518b, 4.21. See Kelley, 98.

(69) 7.19: Quod si ita est (nec enim negare id Valla ullo modo potest), quid refert a Constantino facta sit ea donatio an a posterioribus iisce principibus qui manu sibi quaesitos agros arque urbes sacrosancto concilio sint largiti?

(70) See Luke 22:38 and the New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, vol. 14, s.v. "Unam sanctam." First elaborated by popes Innocent III and IV in the early thirteenth century on the basis of the teachings of St. Bernard and as a product of their struggles with the German emperors, the doctrine of the "two swords" was promulgated by Boniface VIII (1294-1303), after his disputes with Philippe IV of France, in the bull Unam sanctam (18 November 1302). The most extreme expressions of the theory are to be found in Giles of Rome (De ecclesiastica potestate, 1301) and Augustine of Ancona (Summa de ecclesiasticapotestate, 1326), but the best known defence of the doctrine was probably that found in the Summa copiosa (1253) of the canonist Henry of Segusio (Hostiensis) which was a handbook for canonists down to the seventeenth century.

(71) 7.19: Atqui longe subtilius hanc rem videtur mihi intellexisse Bonifacius huius nominis VIII Pontifex, idem et iurisconsultus acutissimus, qui lege evangelica utrumque gladium ad Pontificem pertinere docuit: spiritalem sua, temporalem regum manu exercendum.

(72) 5.24: "tametsi novum non sit humaniorum studiorum autores errare cum ad alias disciplinas praesertim legalem desultare volunt. Ut verissimum sit proverbiale carmen 'Quam quisque novit artem, in hac se exerceat.'" The verse is quoted by Cicero, Quaestiones Tusculanae, 1.18.41, after Aristophanes, Wasps, 1431. See Erasmus, 1969 and 1982, lI ii 82.

(73) And, of course, Mciaro may have in mind both Valla and Poliziano. See Godman, 122-24.

(74) 8.5: Donatus; 5.12: Hyginus, Servius, and Aulus Gellius; 11.2: Macrobius.

(75) 11.2: Fera vulnerata: an insequentis vulneratoris an appraendentis sit. Et quid in fera canibus fugata, ant occisa. Quid item sit Birsare. Quid in piscibus captis in alicuius retibus. Et quid in cervo domestico in nemore occiso. Et defensus Vergilius a Grammaticorum morsibus.

(76) Ibid.: P. Vergilius lib. 7 [Aeneid, 7.475-92] belli Latini initium huiusmodi casu contigisse tradidit. Nec caruit haec res Grammaticorum repraensione, ut est apud Macrobium libro V [Saturnalia, 5.17.2], qui ut rudem puerilemque hanc causam irriderent et absque exemplo a poeta confictam. Atqui primi causa fuit ut exteros agro suo arcerent occasionem vero sic insultandi praestitit quidem cervus verum animis Jam a tartareo monstro concitatis. Laudandusque est poeta, qui ex iure gentium hypothesim sumpsit unde in utranque pattern probabilis esset ambiguitas et par hostium causa. Nec verum est carere exemplo eam rem cum Ulyssei omnis laboris non absimilis fuerit origo. Nempe ut Homerus ait [Odyssey 12.127-41, 260-388], quia boves Solis socii navales conftxissent comedissentque.

(77) See note 24.

(78) 1.29: genuinumque Grammatici in lureconsultos nostros contorquent ... inanes hasce, et contentiosas grammaticorum tendiculas.

(79) 2.41: "Sed haec et huiusmodi grammaticis perquirenda discernendaque relinquamus; nobis saris sit utcunque Iustinianum defendisse." See also 7.3 where he names Francesco Mario Grapaldi, author of Departibus aedium (1494), as an archetypal pedant "with too much time on his hands": "Sed haec Grammaticis subtilius disputanda relinquamus, ne in nostra haec male feriatus aliquis Grapaldus impetum faciat."

(80) For Alciato's defence of Virgil, see also book 5, chapter 24 described above. Valla was attacked by Poggio Bracciolini for his criticisms of Virgil and his preference for Quintilian over Cicero. Grafton and Jardine, 69.

(81) 10.16: Sic et nuperrime Grammaticus nescio quis in M.Ciceronem gravi supercilio est invectus qui libros De Officiis inscripsit et non De Officio potius; et libros De Finibus bonorum et non De Fine; cum tamen Graeci singulariter dicerent [GREEK LETTER NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] [sic enim ipse Cicero fatetur] itemque [GREEK LETTER NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]. Sed certe rectius faceret novus iste Aristarchus si ant fortioribus rationibus pugnaret aut hoc Ciceronis autoritati tribueret ut ilium magis hac in re quam se vidisse sibi ipsi persuaderet. Quid enim absurdius quam eum qui Latinae linguae elegantiam profiteatur in eius parentem invehi?

(82) For Ciceronianism see Monfasani.

(83) Traditionally the earliest formulation of Roman law, dating from ca. 450 B.C., now known only through fragments quoted in the Digest.

(84) Alciato, 1530, 4: "Erunt forte, qui ... diem mihi dicent: quod ... nostra oratio ... non Ciceronianorum verborum maiestate refulgeat. Sed hi velim sciant haec ab eo minime expetenda esse qui manibus quotidie Bartolos, Baldos, Alexandros huiusque farinae autores verset.... Quid hi quaeso facerent si paulo elegantiore stilo nostratia haec constarent? Abiicerent manibus tanquam aenigmata et inter Heraclyti et Lycophronis tenebras connumerarent. Nec immerito quidem id mihi accideret, qui cum Ulpiani aut Pauli pianissimos et absque ullo sermonis scrupulo compositos commentarios declaraturum me profiterer, obscuriora ipsis autoribus tradidissem, interpreteque ipse ... indigerem. Sed cum quaelibet ars sua habeat vocabula, nobis necessario nostris utendum: ... non idcirco tamen noua effingi oportuit quae nemo intelligeret." For Alciato's language theory see Drysdall, 1995, and Maclean, chaps. 2-3.

(85) 5.19: a qua dictione [sui] Doctores nostri verbum "suitatis" deduxerunt quo ego uti non raro soleo, sive quod in legalis sapientiae scriptis non existimem omnia adamussim secundum veterum elegantiam requirenda esse, sive quod non minus licere nostratibus Doctoribus existimem quam veteribus oratoribus aut philosophis concessum semper fuit.

(86) Valla, 1:652-53; Disputationes dialecticae, lib. 1, cap. 4.

(87) 9.20: Dixerit aliquis "Cur ergo tu non semel eam [vocem: ingratitudinem] lucubrationibus tuis inculcasti?" Respondeo: "Primum non adeo scrupulose in legalibus commentariis me agere, et huiusmodi observationes iis qui se Ciceronianos dicunt relinquere; deinde tribuere me non parum studiis nostrorum temporum quique in eis excelluere scriptoribus, ex quibus Perottus, Pontanus, Erasmus, et plerique alii videntur has voces lure civitatis donasse et Romanam linguam auxisse.... " Sed haec Grammaticis relinquamus.

(88) 10.13: Habent Pontificiae leges plerosque loquendi modos non satis ab iis probatos qui solos se Ciceroniani candoris imitatores existimant; qualis cure "faro defunctum" aliquem dicere volunt, "viam," inquiunt, "universae carnis est ingressus."

(89) 7.10: frequensque in ore omnium est Missae vocabulum etiam ab his qui eleganter & latine Theologiae studia attigerunt usurpatum.

(90) The reference already quoted to Pyrrhus d'Angleberme (2.7), a mention of an illness in Bourges (8.11), the involvement in a witch trial (8.22) already noted by Abbondanza, 1960a, 69.

(91) 5.26. In addition to commending him for setting a worthy standard of fees for consilia and teaching, Alciato praises del Maino for providing jurists with an invaluable, accessible compilation of the opinions (sententiae) of all jurists.

(92) 5.27.

(93) Alciato, 1548, hh [7v]: "ne scilicet tetricae istius severaeque legalis disciplinae supercilium imminuerem." See note 16 above.

(94) Erasmus: 1.21,6.3, 6.16, 7.6, 7.17, 8.5, 8.23, 9.7, 9.13, 10.15, 11.4; Perotti: 4.2, 9.20.

(95) The poem was published many times with the commentary by Domizio Calderini between 1484 and 1528, and Calderini was criticised by Poliziano in his Miscellanea. See Grafton, 1991, 52-53.

(96) 5.18: Sunt sane et multa alia huiusmodi loca male apud Ovidium eo in libello ab interpretibus explicata quorum quae nobis occurrent, cum occasio tulerit, non gravabimur facere mentionem. Tametsi ratio studiorum meorum vix ferat ut in huiusmodi minutias possim divertere.

(97) See note 58 above.

(98) Quintilian, Institutiones oratoriae, 1.2.14; Suetonius, Degrammaticis, 4; Poliziano, 22:16-17, 99-100. See Scaglione, especially 61-62 and 66, and Godman, chap. 3, especially 80-81. See also Kelley, 48.

(99) Compare the case of Nicolo Leoniceno and medicine. Godman, 98-104.

(100) See notes 24 and 84 above. See also Abbondanza, 1960a, 74: "La posizione dei grammatici che, non alimentata da alcuna problematica giuridica, si era irrigidita in una antihistorica polemica contro la giurisprudenza medievale, viene decisamente superata dal'Alciato, che pur muove da solide e convinte premesse filologiche."

(101) See the first section of the Apology against Latomus in CWE 71, 38, and the conclusion of the Apology against Lefevre in CWE 83, 106. See also Boyle, chaps, 1-2, 77-99, and McConica, especially 91-92. Erasmus probably referred to Alciato, among others, when, in the former Apology, he commended "some lawyers--and not the least prominent either--who make it their habit and their pride to link Greek and Latin literature with the normal pursuits of their profession."

(102) See the articles in Contemporaries, by J. Ijsewijn, l:398-404, and G. Tournoy, 2:304-06, and Rummel, vol. 1, chaps. 1 and 4.

(103) See also Thomas More's defense of grammar and rhetoric in his letter of 1515 to Dorp. More, 8-21.


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Title Annotation:Andrea Alciato
Author:Drysdall, Denis L.
Publication:Renaissance Quarterly
Geographic Code:4EUIT
Date:Sep 22, 2003
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