Book Series Cultural Encounters in Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, vol. 12

Carolingian Scholarship and Martianus Capella

Ninth-Century Commentary Traditions on 'De nuptiis' in Context

Mariken Teeuwen, Sinéad O'Sullivan (eds)

  • Pages: xi + 393 p.
  • Size:156 x 234 mm
  • Illustrations:18 b/w
  • Language(s):English
  • Publication Year:2012

  • ISBN: 978-2-503-53178-6
  • Hardback
  • Available
  • ISBN: 978-2-503-53949-2
  • E-book
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An exploration of the Carolingian fascination with the writing of the African Martianus Capella, whose work reflected the pagan world of ancient gods and myths familiar to its fifth-century author.


"(...) this is an important volume that offers numerous insights into the richness, complexity, and occasional brilliance of Carolingian scholarship.  Thanks to the editors and contributors we know a great deal more about the Oldest Gloss Tradition and its makeup.  The collection deserves to be read by every student of Carolingian intellectual history." (Michael Herren, in: The Medieval Review, 02.12.12)

"This collection and the editorial project which it ackowledges are a vaulable contribution to our knowledge of Carolingian scholarship. They demonstrate with new clarity the continuity of the scholarly tradition that extends from Alcuin to Remigius, and bring to light the sure knowledge of the Liberal Arts that produced the oldest gloss tradition, preparing the way for the very different achievements of Eriugena and Remigius." (Winthrop Wetherbee, in: The Journal of Medieval Latin, 23, 2013, p. 390-394)

"This book sets the example and provides stimulating perspectives on which further work may build." (Pádraic Moran, in: Early Medieval Europe, 2014, Vol. 22, issue 3, p. 381-384)




It is well known that the Carolingian royal family inspired and promoted a cultural revival of great consequence. The courts of Charlemagne and his successors welcomed lively gatherings of scholars who avidly pursued knowledge and learning, while education became a booming business in the great monastic centres, which were under the protection of the royal family. Scholarly emphasis was placed upon Latin language, religion, and liturgy, but the works of classical and late antique authors were collected, studied, and commented upon with similar zeal. A text that was read by ninth-century scholars with an almost unrivalled enthusiasm is Martianus Capella’s De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii, a late antique encyclopedia of the seven liberal arts embedded within a mythological framework of the marriage between Philology (learning) and Mercury (eloquence). Several ninth-century commentary traditions testify to the work’s popularity in the ninth century. Martianus’s text treats a wide range of secular subjects, including mythology, the movement of the heavens, numerical speculation, and the ancient tradition on each of the seven liberal arts. De nuptiis and its exceptionally rich commentary traditions provide the focus of this volume, which addresses both the textual material found in the margins of De nuptiis manuscripts, and the broader intellectual context of commentary traditions on ancient secular texts in the early medieval world.



  • List of Illustrations
  • List of Abbreviations
  • List of Sigla
  • Introduction - MARIKEN TEEUWEN
  • Writing between the Lines: Reflections of Scholarly Debate in a Carolingian Commentary Tradition - MARIKEN TEEUWEN
  • The Stemmatic Relationship between the Manuscripts Transmitting the Oldest Gloss Tradition - SINÉAD O’SULLIVAN
  • Quadrivial Reasoning and Allegorical Revelation: ‘Meta-knowledge’ and Carolingian Approaches to Knowing - CALVIN M. BOWER
  • On Early Medieval Divisions of Knowledge - ANNELI LUHTALA
  • Obscurity, Pagan Lore, and Secrecy in Glosses on Books I–II from the Oldest Gloss Tradition - SINÉAD O’SULLIVAN
  • Perceptions of the Past in Ninth-Century Commentaries on Martianus Capella - NATALIA LOZOVSKY
  • Questions and Observations Based on Transcribing the Commentary on Books IV and V, Dialectic and Rhetoric - MARY GARRISON
  • Quelques thèmes récurrents dans les gloses du ‘plus ancien commentaire’ sur Martianus Capella VII (manuscrit de Leyde, VLF 48) - JEAN YVES-GUILLAUMIN
  • The Power of Diagrams: The Place of the Anonymous Commentary in the Development of Carolingian Astronomy and Cosmology - BRUCE S. EASTWOOD
  • Martianus and the Traditions of Early Medieval Astronomies - STEPHEN C. MCCLUSKEY
  • Eriugena’s Commentary on Martianus in the Framework of his Thought and the Philosophical Debate of his Time - ILARIA RAMELLI
  • ‘Heed that saying of Terence’: On the Use of Terence in Radbert’s Epitaphium Arsenii - MAYKE DE JONG
  • The Scholica graecarum glossarum and Martianus Capella - PATRIZIA LENDINARA
  • Counting the Heads of the Hydra: The Development of the Early Medieval Commentary on Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy - MALCOLM GODDEN AND ROHINI JAYATILAKA
Index of Manuscripts

Index of Names

Index of Works

List of Contributors