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Walter Berschin  

From the Middle of the Eleven Century to the Latin Conquest of Constantinople

From: Greek Letters and the Latin Middle Ages.
From Jerome to Nicholas of Cusa.
Translated by Jerold C. Frakes.
Revised and expanded edition.
The Catholic University of America Press,  http://cuapress.cua.edu/


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3. Amalfi, Salerno, Benevento, Monte Cassino

... adquisivit Amalfin.
Urbs haec dives opum populoque referta videtur,
Nulla magis locuples argento, vestibus, auro,

Partibus innumeris. Hac plurimus urbe moratur
Nauta maris coelique vias aperire peritus.

Huc et Alexandri diversa feruntur ab urbe,

Regis et Antiochi; haec freta plurima transit;
His Arabes, Libi, Siculi noscuntur et Afri:

Haec gens est totum notissima paene per orbem
Et mercanda ferens et amans mercata referre.

[... he acquired Amalfi. This city seemed rich in resources and full of people; there is none richer in silver, vestments, gold, and innumerable other respects. Μany a sailor, experienced in disclosing the ways of the seas and the heavens, stays in this city. Diverse things are brought hither from Alexandria and Antioch; this people crosses many seas. The Arabians, Libyans, Sicilians, and Africans know them: this people is practically the most famous in the entire world; they bear forth goods to be traded, and loving the business which they have transacted, they return. ]

William of Apulia, Cesta Roberti Wiscardi 476-85, ed. Μ. Mathieu (Palermo 1961), p. 190

und vuor engegen Salerne

und suochte ouch dâ durch genist
der wîsen arzâte list.

[And he went to Salerno and sought out the wise doctors' wisdom there, for the sake of a cure.]

Hartmann von Aue, Der Arme Heinrich 180-82.  

Ιn the late tenth and early eleventh centuries, the Campanian maritime cities Amalfi and Salerno became Naples' heirs as centers of the Greco-Latin reciprocal relations. The hagiographical and narrative traditions of translation were continued  in Amalfi;  in  Salerno, medical studies flourished. 

Before Venice began to extend its control into the eastern Mediterranean, Amalfi was the emporium of the Orient in the West. Ships from Amalfi supplied the colonies of Latins in Constantinople and on Mt. Athos, which already existed around the year 1000; in 1050 in Jerusalem they founded the hostel for pilgrims which was possibly the starting point of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem.20 Around the middle of the eleventh century, in the monastery on Mt. Athos that was associated with Amalfi,21 a monk named Leo translated the famous Miraculum a S. Michaele Chonis patratum (Chonae in Asia Minor), the cult legend of the oldest shrine to St. Michael in all of Christendom;22 the work was attributed to Patriarch Sisinnius of Constantinople (426-27). Perhaps it was the same Leo who, in 1048-49 in Constantinople, commissioned the Latin translations of the Greek Barlaam and Josaphat novel, the legend of Buddha in Christian guise; this work was the second novel translated from Greek during the Middle Ages, the first having been the adventures of Alexander, translated by Leo the archpriest.

Naples, Biblioteca Nazionale Cod. VIII. B.10, not yet edited. On the question of authorship, see P. Peeters, "La première traduction latine de 'Barlaam et Joasaph' et son original grec," AB 49 (1931), 276-312; Siegmund, Die Überlieferung, pp. 257 f.; F. Dölger, Der griechische Barlaam-Roman (Ettal 1953), esp. p. 24, n. 1; H. Peri (Pflaum), "La plus ancienne traduction du roman grec de Barlaam et Josaphat," Studi Mediolatini e Volgari 6/7 (1959), 169-89. The novel was received with no less favor in the West than in the East; cf J. Sonet, Le roman de Barlaam et Josaphat, Ι/2 (Louvain 1949-52). The translations into European vernaculars were most often from the Latin text; the German translation was by Rudolf von Ems. Ιn one case, however, the translation was made directly from Greek into the vernacular: in an illuminated codex of the Barlaam and Josaphat novel from Mt. Athos (Iviron Cod. 69), an Old French translation has been entered in the margin; ed. P.Meyer, "Fragments d'une ancienne traduction française de Barlaam et Joasaph, faite sur le grec au commencement du treizième siècle," Bibliothèque de l'École des Chartes VI/2 (1886), 313-30 (with plates).

A clan with the surname "Comiti(s) Mauronis" was especially important in promoting Amalfi's cultural relations with the Byzantine Empire.23 Maurus and his son Pantaleon donated the bronze gates of Amalfi (1065), Monte Cassino (around 1066), Rome (S. Paulo fuori le Mura, 1070), and St. Michael in Gargano (1076), all of which were cast in Constantinople. Another Pantaleon from the same Amalfi clan donated the Byzantine bronze doors of Atrani (1087).24 But these "royal merchants" of Amalfi also attended to literary exports from East to West. A priest and monk named John, living in the monastery Panagiotum in Constantinople, relates the following story in the prologue to the Vita vel passio S.Herinis virginis et martiris (Irene) which he translated:25

One day when Ι entered the house of the very noble man Lord Lupinus, the son of Lord Sergius, with the surname Comiti Mauronis, in order to pay him a visit, several others from Amalfi were there. While we were talking of one thing or another, whatever one customarily talks about as a comfort to a sick person, the conversation turned to the holy virgin and the blessed martyr of Christ Irene: That we neglected to investigate and find out who she was for all those years while the church of Amalfi was under her rule and also her protection, since there were in fact many noble, wise, and very rich men in this royal city and several interpreters of both languages...

Pantaleon "exhorted" this same translator, John, "often to translate something into Latin which one finds in Greek but not in Latin books or narratives." John complied with this wish in his Liber de miraculis, which contains Greek narratives of asceticism, especially from the ΛΕΙΜΩΝ, the Pratum spirituale of John Moschus from the early seventh century. Ιn the preface to this translation the garrulous translator, John, describes or rather apologizes for his method:26

... if one wishes to write a letter to someone, then one drafts it, thereafter revises it, and finally writes out the revised version [primum exemplat, postea emendat et iam emendata conscribit]. I did not have this opportunity, however, for, as Ι have already noted, Ι have reached an advanced age, my eyes are growing dim and my kidneys are causing me pain; Ι could do no more. If Ι had the opportunity to write a second time, Ι would certainly find harmonious words and seek out a pleasing style in the order of words. But Ι leave that to you, you who are holier and wiser: stylize the material and the faithful translation of this little work as you deem fitting. But we would do better to leave this topic; for we read that Jerome worked in this manner: first he wrote with the help of a notary, then he revised that which had been dictated, and then he gave that to the book scribes. Ι did not have the opportunity to do that, for in the place where Ι live, there is not only no notary or scribe to be found, but not even anyone who understands a single Latin word.

Ιn a third hagiographical work, John refers back to a Neapolitan translation:27

Here begins the preface to the passion of the blessed Archbishop Nicholas. To be read on the day of his funeral. And, dear brothers, since the late subdeacon John, who translated the life of the holy father Nicholas, reported to the church in Naples that he could not find [the account of his] death, he omitted it. And that is not surprising, since he translated in Italy. Therefore, Ι, the most humble priest and monk John, led by my love for [this] holy father, sought and found the work while Ι was in Constantinople -and not on just any scraps, but in records from the archives and revised codices. And, according to my own modest understanding, Ι have translated it as well as Ι could.

According to more recent opinions, this rather garrulous translator lived in the second half of the eleventh century. His translation of John Moschus (Liber de miraculis) had a certain circulation in the southern German monasteries of the high Middle Ages. Information concerning this translator of Amalfi-Constantinople is otherwise to be found primarily in a compilation from the monastery of St. Severin in Naples from the year 1174; the scribe of the codex, Marinus of Sorrent, "ingeniously named it Marinulus, as if it were his small son."28 It may be possible to identify other texts in this codex as the work of Amalfi translators -the last of the "Lombard" translation schools.29

Ιn the high Middle Ages, medicine and philosophy entered into a close association which was not dissolved again until the late Middle Ages. Ιn that earlier era, even theology and practical politics were associated with medical science: not only were there physicians who executed translations  (Constantinus Africanus, Johannes Affiatius, Rusticus of Pisa, perhaps even Stephan of Antioch, later on Nicholas of Reggio), but even those who discharged the office of ambassador (Philippus to "Prester John"),30 abbot (Wilhelmus Medicus of St. Denis), and pope (Petrus Hispanus = John XXΙ, 1276-77). The most important schools of this urbane medicine were in Salerno and Toledo. Both transmitted primarily Arabic learning; in Salerno, however, Greek also played a role.  

The school in Salerno developed out of a community of practicing physicians; beginning in the eleventh century, this school published its own medical literature.31 The earliest medical author from Salerno known by name is a certain Guarimpotus (or Gariopontus, not to be confused with the Neapolitan translator Guarimpotus). He compiled the Passionarius Galeni from old translations and commentaries. Archbishop Alfanus of Salerno (d. 1085; trained in Monte Cassino) translated "latinorum cogente  penuria"  the  anthropologico-medical  work  ΠΕΡΙ ΦΥΣΕΩC ΑΝΘΡΩΠΟΥ of the Syrian Nemesius of Emesa; he published the work under the title Premnon physicon.32 Alfanus did not know the author of the Greek text; Burgundio, who again translated the work a century later, thought the author to be Gregory of Nyssa, just as did Johannes Cuno, the third translator, in the sixteenth century. Alfanus was a friend and patron of Constantinus Africanus, the translator from Arabic; a broad stream of the Greek tradition of scholastic medical literature entered Italy via Constantinus and by way of Arabic. His major work is the Liber Pantegni (probably modelled on ΠΑΝΤΕΧΝΗ), in which he translated in large part Ali ben Abbas' (d. 994) comprehensive treatment of Greco-Arabic medicine; he dedicated the work to Abbot Desiderius of Monte Cassino.33 Constantinus Africanus died in 1087 as a monk in Monte Cassino. It is not certain whether he taught in Salerno; but his works were in any case used there for a long time as a basis of instruction. Around the middle of the twelfth century, medical commentaries were published in Salerno; medicine began to establish ties with philosophy. Urso of Salerno was the most important representative of this theoretical aspect of Salernian medicine, which also took part in the reception of the works of Aristotle. Thus, with Salerno as its center, an Italian variant of Aristotelianism developed; and it was one which, "in contrast to the Aristotelianism of the North, was defined not by theological but rather by medical interests."34 

The school of Salerno is important for more than just medical history, since it was responsible for the first wave of reception of Arabic science, in the eleventh century. A century later, the second wave followed via Toledo and other Spanish schools. It is an undecided question what the relationship was in Salerno between translations from the Arabic and translations from the Greek. Ιn other words: did Alfanus of Salerno restrict himself to a translation of Nemesius of Emesa, or did he also translate other, specifically medical, works? The Articella, the textbook of Salernian medicine that was widely known from the twelfth century on, seems to contain not just Arabo-Latin but also Greco-Latin translations.

Cf. Kristeller, Italia Medioevale e Umanistica 19 (1976), 66 f.: "The Aphorisms [of Hippocrates] appear in the Articella in a new translation ('Vita brevis, ars vero longa') which in some manuscripts is preceded by a prologue that is at times attributed to Oribasius. This prologue suggests that the translation was made from the Greek. If this is correct, the translation should be linked with Alfanus." According to B.Alexanderson, Die hippokratische Schrift Prognosticon (Göteborg 1963), the text of Hippocrates' Prognosticon included in the Articella is a Greco- Latin translation. It would thus be a further trace of Greek translation in Salerno. Additionally, Kristeller considers yet another text of the Articella a post-1100 translation from Greek -Theophilus, De urinis. It is also significant for our conception of the school of Salerno whether Marius' work of natural philosophy, De elementis, had its origin there. The last editor, R. C. Dales, On the Elements (Berkeley/Los Angeles/London 1976), is inclined to attribute it to the school of Chartres.

The southern Italian Almagest translator of the mid-twelfth century came from Salerno, as he himself notes; see below, sec. 7.

Just as was the case in Naples, Amalfi, and Salerno, the inland ducal city of Benevento had its Greco-Latin traditions which could be traced back to its Lombard period. The Beneventan liturgy has transmitted an eleventh-century bilingual liturgy for Good Friday, the "Adoratio crucis,"35 and (together with the Ravenna rite) the troparion 'Όταν τω σταυρώ O quando in cruce: a liturgical composition which not only is Grecistic, but even adopts its text and melody directly from the Greek (see figure).36

Monte Cassino was apparently the focal point of the Greco-Latin culture which had such a rich development in Campania during the eleventh century. There was a Greco-Latin liturgy in Monte Cassino by the time of Abbot Bertharius (856-84,) at the latest;37 in the tenth century, Greek monks associated with Nilus of Rossano lived near Monte Cassino at least occasionally. Emperors of both East and West granted special privileges and gave many valuable gifts to Monte Cassino, as the foundation of the father of Western monasticism.38

Under Abbot Desiderius (1058-87), Monte Cassino experienced its golden age. This abbot, from a Lombard family and, in his time, an uomo universale, was closely associated with Maurus of Amalfi (who was responsible for bringing the cast bronze gates from Constantinople to Monte Cassino), Constantinus Africanus (who dedicated his Pantegni to Desiderius), and Alfanus of Salerno (who celebrated in song Abbot Desiderius' new buildings and their ornamentation):39

Ibi sardius et chrysoprassus
nitet ac speciosa smaragdus,
simul emicat his amethistus,
radiat pretiosa iacynthus.

Varias quoque Graecia vestes
dedit artificesque scientes;
tribuit sua marmora Roma

quibus est domus ista decora.

[There sardian and chrysoprase glitter, as does the splendid emerald; at the same time an amethyst shines forth from among them, the precious jacinth gleams. Greece also gives diverse garments and knowledgeable experts. It grants its marble statues to Rome, with which this house is ornamented. ]

Archbishop Alfanus came out of Monte Cassino: the physician Constantinus and the merchant Maurus died there as monks. At this period, one could find so many authorities on Greek art and science nowhere in the West except Monte Cassino. It has, however, not yet been determined whether translations were also made there from Greek directly into Latin.40  

As is often the case in the cultural history of medieval monasteries, a historian stands at the close of the great era and compiles the traditions of his monastery. Ιn Monte Cassino, it is Petrus Diaconus.41He continued the rich tradition of polemical treatises present in the library of Monte Cassino with a work of his own -Altercatio contra Graecum quendam (ca. 1140). Petrus Diaconus knew very little Greek, and such a knowledge [look at picture 1] must have seemed to him in general superfluous, since he considered the Latins superior to the Greeks in all matters. A note in Codex Casinensis 220 on the close of Petrus Chrysolanus' disputation (in 1112), attributed to Petrus Diaconus, has the Greek emperor himself say as much:42 "Once wisdom was taken from the East to the West, from the Greeks to the Latins; now, on the contrary, a Latin comes from the West to the East and deigns to associate with the Greeks. ..."