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Uguccione da Pisa. Derivationes.

Uguccione da Pisa. Derivationes. 2 vols. Edizione critica princeps a cura di Enzo Cecchini, Guido Arbizzoni, Settimio Lanciotti, Giorgio Nonni, Maria Grazia Sassi, Alba Tontini. Edizione Nazionale dei Testi Mediolatini. Firenze: SISMEL--Edizioni del Galluzzo, 2004. Vol. 1. Pp. XVII + 264. Vol. 2. Pp. 1311.

All medievalists--and, in Italian studies, Dante scholars in particular--know of Uguccione da Pisa (in English referred to as Huguccio of Pisa), whose date of birth is approximately 1130, while 1210 is the date of his death, at which time he was still the bishop of Ferrara; however, all but very few specialists, mostly lexicographers, are familiar with his work first-hand. Thus, to provide just an example, all Dante scholars are aware that the image at the basis of the punishment of the envious souls in Purgatorio--"[...] invideo -es, ut 'invideo tibi', idest 'non video tibi [...]'" (1274)--may have come to Dante from the Derivationes of Uguccione, who often appropriated previous lexicographers' work. With this first critical edition all medievalists can finally approach Uguccione's Derivationes directly and find out on their own the richness and complexity of his magnum opus. And this critical edition is also the magnum opus of a large equipe of scholars, who acknowledge the groundwork of many predecessors, including two curators who died prematurely.

This critical edition consists of two handsomely printed volumes. The first contains the following: the bibliography of all the works and studies quoted and consulted (VII-XVII); the introduction (XXI-XLV) by the principal editor Enzo Cecchini, containing a biography of Uguccione (doubts still linger as to whether we have one or two persons called Uguccione: one the decretalist, the other the lexicographer); comments on the Derivationes; and the explanation of the criteria employed in this edition, which is based primarily on its three major codices: "Si tratta del Laurenziano XXVII 5, del Londinese, Brit. Libr., Add. 18380 e del Parigino, Bibl. Nat., Lat. 15462" (XXVIII). Basing their decisions on the work of previous scholars (e.g., Aristide Marigo) and their own investigations, the volume's editors, led by Enzo Cecchini, have employed these three codices, privileging the codex from Paris and another codex very close to it: manuscript 692 of the Biblioteca Universitaria in Pisa. The editors have also consulted four more codices (XXVIII-XXXI).

After Cecchini's introduction, the first volume contains the "Indice lessicale" (pp. 3*-243*): namely, the lexical list, mostly of all primitive, derived, and composite terms of the Derivationes, but also, as Cecchini explains, "voci tra quelle usate dall'autore nelle sue esplicazioni ed interpretazioni: termini rari, volgarismi [...], vocaboli riferibili all'uso di determinate aree regionali d'Italia [...] voci non presenti nel testo ma riferite in nota quali varianti" (XXXII). Cecchini is aware of the rather daring nature of this decision to include some of these lexicographical entries in the "Indice lessicale" of the first volume; a decision, however, for which he should be praised since it provides a more comprehensive understanding of the lexical and cultural richness of the Derivationes. Since the Derivationes groups all words around their true or alleged origin, and since the primitive words do not follow a rigorous alphabetical order, the extraordinary usefulness of the lexical index becomes clear. The index of all quotations present in the Derivationes ("Indice delle citazioni" 245*-64*), containing hundreds of major sources and authors, further illustrates Uguccione's complex and multi-layered encyclopedic mind.

To be sure, Uguccione is mostly a compiler; and while his sources are many, a few stand out most clearly: the Derivationes of Osberno of Gloucester, or Osbern Claudianus (fl. 1148), now available in a modern edition: Derivazioni, 2 vols., ed. Paola Busdraghi et al., Centro Italiano di Studi sull'Alto Medioevo, 1996; the Etymologiae of Isidore of Seville; the Institutiones grammaticae of Priscianus (fl. circa 500-30); and the Liber glossarum (called also Glossarium Ansileubi). Cecchini points out all these multiple sources, while emphasizing Uguccione's attempt at isolating a certain number of "parole-radici" in an endeavor to explain "la quasi totalita del patrimonio lessicale della lingua" (XXVI).

The wealth of Uguccione's lexical patrimony comes through most clearly from the "Indice lessicale" prepared by the editors in the first volume--it lists approximately twenty-six thousand distinct lemmata--and obviously from the Derivationes' truly encyclopedic world. Comprised within the verb Augeo--under which Uguccione lists auctor, autor, and avieo, quoted by Dante in Convivio 4.6.4--and, at the bottom of page 1311 of this edition's second volume, Zoroastrum, defined as vivum sidus or living star, this medieval encyclopedia is now available to all scholars.

Uguccione is fully aware--obviously in a medieval manner--of the importance of his work. In the Prologus he sees his work--aptly called opus--as an attempt to remedy humanity's postlapsarian ignorance by providing "vocabulorum significationum distinctiones, derivationum origines, ethimologiarum assignationes, interpretationum [...] expositiones" (3-4). While knowing full well that he cannot attain perfection, he nevertheless insists that here, in his work, everybody--from parvulus to adultus, legum professores and theologie perscrutatores--will find much food for thought, according to the metaphor he himself employs. Ultimately, however, he recognizes that God is his work's true author ("Si quis querat huius operis quis autor, dicendum est quia Deus [...]") and in fact invokes the Holy Spirit's grace. At the same time, he sees himself as God's instrumentum, announces his place of origin ("patria pisanus"), and reveals his own name, of which he offers two etymologies, thereby sanctioning within his own name and persona his work's nature as he sees it: "[...] nomine Uguitio quasi eugetio, idest bona terra non tantum presentibus sed etiam futuris, vel Uguitio quasi vigetio, idest virens terra non sibi solum sed etiam aliis" (4).

Dino S. Cervigni, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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Author:Cervigni, Dino S.
Publication:Annali d'Italianistica
Article Type:Book review
Date:Jan 1, 2005
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