Nota Bene explores a little-known juxtaposition of verbal text
and musical notation in the Middle Ages. This particular
intersection deserves attention from those interested in music, the
reception of classical Latin literature, the history of education,
and the development of punctuation.
Between the late tenth century and the late twelfth century, the
musical notation known as neumes was provided in dozens of
manuscripts for, among other texts, a number of Horace's Odes as
well as for sections of epics by Lucan, Statius, and Vergil. These
materials constitute a paradoxical corpus of "classical poems in
plainchant" that complicates our views of both how students learned
Latin and what was being sung in an era most often associated with
Gregorian chant. The book wrestles first with the
literary-historical puzzle of why certain passages and not others
were "neumed" and later with the ethnomusicological riddles of how,
where, when, and by whom the passages were sung.
Jan M. Ziolkowski is Arthur Kingsley Porter Professor of
Medieval Latin at Harvard University, and the editor/translator of
The Cambridge Songs.
"Study of Ziolkowski's arguments should equip readers with greater appreciation for the role of the classics in early medieval education. [...] the issue Ziolkowski examines - Latin literacy, oral performance and memorial versus textual cultures, the relation of the liturgy to the Latin classics, Ottonian pedagogy, and attitudes toward the classics - are of critical importance for the understanding of medieval literature. [...] [The book] is everywhere lucid and often entertaining."
(J. M. Dean, in Philological Quarterly 87, 2008, p. 196)
"Obwohl viele Fragen zwangsläufig offen bleiben, ist dieses Buch reich an wichtigen neuen Erkenntnissen zum frühma. Schul- und Bildungswesen und öffnet den Zugang zu weiteren Forschungen."
(V.L., in Deutsches Archiv für Erforschung des Mittelalters 66/2, 2010, S. 952)