Classical Heritage

Ab excessu Augusti
annalium libri sedecim
Basel: Ex officina Frobeniana, 1533
Edited by Beatus Rhenanus

Northern humanists such as Beatus Rhenanus (1485 ­ 1547) were attracted to the works of Cornelius Tacitus (ca. 55 ­ 120) for a variety of reasons: the striking presentation of the first-century Roman Empire, the delineation of character and ethical concerns, and the description of Germany found in De Germania. Rhenanus was born in Schlettstadt near Strassburg but spent many years in Basel where he was a close friend of Erasmus and the printer Johann Froben. This edition of Tacitus, which he compiled between 1519 and 1533, is considered one of his best works. Other accomplishments include the editio princeps of Velleius Paterculus (1520), good editions of Curtius (1518, with notes by Erasmus), Seneca's Ludus de morte Claudii (1515), and Livy (1535), as well as a biography of Erasmus.

Julius Caesar Scaliger
De causis linguae latinae
[Heidelberg]: Petrus Santandreanus, 1584

Julius Caesar Scaliger (1484 ­ 1558) led a colorful and controversial life. Allegedly from the illustrious Veronese house of della Scala, Scaliger became a page to the emperor Maximilian at the age of twelve. Between adventures as a soldier of fortune, he studied art under Albrecht Dürer and was trained as a physician. It was not until his forties that he left the military for the life of a scholar, fighting later literary wars with Erasmus, Rabelais, and Cardano. De causis linguae latinae, first published in 1540, is a notable early attempt to subject traditional principles of Latin grammar to rigorous philological analysis. Scaliger originally composed the book as an educational aid for his son Sylvius, commenting in the preface that "it is not proper that you undertake more serious studies before knowing the reasons for the particular rules, for through them the scope of each and every important field of learning has to be revealed." Another son, Joseph Justus Scaliger (1540 ­ 1609), became the founder of modern textual criticism and one of the most influential scholars of the sixteenth century.

Justus Lipsius
Opera omnia
Leiden: Ex officina Plantiniana, 1596

Justus Lipsius (1547 ­ 1606), one of the most celebrated European scholars of the sixteenth century, was rivalled as a classicist only by the two Scaligers. He obtained his early education at the Jesuit college in Cologne and later attended the Catholic university at Louvain. The Opera omnia, first issued in 1585, contains several of his important early works, one of which, Variarum lectionum libri tres, procured Lipsius an appointment as Latin secretary to Cardinal Gravella in Rome (1567). In 1579 Lipsius was called, as honorary professor of history, to the University of Leiden where he remained for eleven years, the period of his greatest productivity. During this time he perfected his superb editions of Tacitus and Seneca and brought out a series of texts covering many classical authors and topics. Although his main strength lay in textual criticism and exegesis, Lipsius also had a profound and accurate knowledge of Roman history and antiquities and was instrumental in the revival of Stoicism.

Isaac Casaubon
Animadversionum in Athenaei
Dipnosophistas libri quindecim
Lyons: Apud Viduam A. de Harsy and Petrum Rauaud, 1621

Isaac Casaubon (1559 ­ 1614) began the study of Greek with his Huguenot father when still a child but later found his way to the University of Geneva where he became professor of Greek in 1582. In 1590 he commenced work on the Deipnosophistae of the Greek rhetorician and grammarian Athenaeus (fl. A.D. 200). The Deipnosophistae is a valuable compendium of information on Greek banquets, music, songs, dances, games, and courtesans, quoting many authors whose works are otherwise lost. The critical edition of Athenaeus was finally published in 1597 but did not include preface, dedication, or commentary. This lacuna was remedied by the publication of Animadversionum in Athenaei Dipnosophistas (1600), a supplementary work requiring over three laborious years to complete. Among other achievements, Casaubon demonstrated on purely philological grounds that the Hermetic Corpus ­ esteemed in the Renaissance for its remote antiquity ­ was no older than the second century of the Christian Era.

Joannes Drusius
Observationum sacrarum libri XVI
Franeker: Aegidius Radaeus, 1594

At the age of twenty-two, Joannes Drusius (1550-1616) was appointed professor of Hebrew at Oxford, from which position he moved to Leiden in 1577, finally settling at the newly founded University of Franeker in 1585. Highly reputed as a teacher, Drusius drew students from all the Protestant countries in Europe. The Observationes, like many of his other works, sought to provide a sound philological foundation for theologians to build upon. This combination of textual criticism with exegetical excursions proved to be very influential at a time when Dutch Protestant churches were addressing the issue of a vernacular Bible.

Hugo Grotius
Poemata collecta
Leiden; A. Clouquius, 163745
Daniel Heinsius
Poemata graeca
Leiden: Franciscus Heger, 1640

Although the major activity of classical scholars was the editing and study of Latin and Greek texts, they frequently turned to the composition of original poetry along classical lines. Such was the case with the renowned Hugo Grotius (1583 ­ 1645) and Daniel Heinsius (1580 ­ 1655). Grotius, the noted statesman, theologian, diplomat, and scholar, successfully reproduced in Poemata collecta the spirit of classical Latin verse, clothing modern thoughts in ancient forms. Heinsius, like Grotius a student of Joseph Scaliger, was honored for his learning both in his native Holland and abroad. Poemata graeca, edited by his son Nikolaes, contains original Greek and Latin poems composed by the elder Heinsius. Heinsius and Grotius were associates for many years, although they were later estranged because of Grotius' liberal religious convictions.

Johann Buxtorf
Lexicon hebraicum et chaldaicum
Basel: In officina Episcopiana, 1735

Prompted by the contemporary rejection of an infallible Church and the growing emphasis on scriptural studies, many German scholars such as Johann Buxtorf (1564 ­ 1629) turned to Hebrew and rabbinic materials in order to justify their faith. Buxtorf assisted Piscator (1546 ­ 1625) in a Latin translation of the Old Testament (1602 ­ 1603), but he is chiefly remembered for the several lexicons and concordances which he produced. Lexicon hebraicum et chaldaicum, first published in 1607, proved to be of great use to scholars and was subsequently issued in many editions. Buxtorf was aided in his research by the many learned Jews whom he befriended at a time when legislation, especially in his residence of Basel, restricted the freedom of Jews. Thoroughly acquainted with Hebrew traditions, he was often consulted by members of the Jewish community concerning matters of ceremonial law.

Aristoxenus. Nicomachus. Alypius
Leiden: Ex officina Ludovici Elzeviri, 1616
Edited by Johannes van Meurs

Johannes van Meurs (1579 ­ 1639) wrote extensively on Greek antiquity, including festivals, games, dances, music, and the mysteries of Eleusis. At the age of sixteen, he produced a commentary on the Cassandra of Lycophron and in 1610 was appointed professor of Greek and history at the University of Leiden. Van Meurs issued the editio princeps of Aristoxenus' Elementa harmonica, along with works of Nicomachus and Alypius, in this Elzevir edition of 1616. Aristoxenus (fourth century B.C.), whose father was a pupil of Socrates, studied with Aristotle at Athens and also was influenced by the Pythagoreans. In the Elementa, his only surviving work, he argues that the soul is related to the body as harmony is to the parts of a musical instrument.

Gerhardus Joannes Vossius
De arte grammatica libri septem
Amsterdam: Willem Blaeuw, 1635

Gerhardus Joannes Vossius (1577-1649) belonged to a community of scholars whose presence at Leiden made that institution a major center of classical scholarship in the seventeenth century. A lifelong friend of Hugo Grotius, he was versed in the Classics, Hebrew, Church history, theology, rhetoric, and grammar. Despite Vossius' moderate views and his great reputation throughout the Netherlands, France, and England, he was falsely accused of heresy in 1619 and forced to resign his post at Leiden. After a period of three years, however, he was returned to the University as professor of rhetoric and chronology. Ten years later Vossius left Leiden for the newly founded Athenaeum at Amsterdam, where he remained until his death in 1649. Among his many works was a textbook on grammar (1607) which was printed repeatedly in the Netherlands and in Germany. Increased public demand for his knowledge of grammar led in 1635 to the production of De arte grammatica, a collection treating many additional aspects of the subject.

Bar Hebraeus
Specimen historiae arabum
Oxford: Henry Hall, 1650
Edited and translated by Edward Pococke

Edward Pococke (1604-1691), English Orientalist and biblical scholar, had already gained the attention of Vossius for his edition of the four New Testament epistles not contained in European editions of the old Syriac canon, when he sailed for Aleppo as chaplain to an English commercial settlement. While in Aleppo, he developed his knowledge of Arabic language and culture and collected many valuable manuscripts. At the request of William Laud, then chancellor of the University of Oxford, Pococke returned to England in 1636 to fill the first chair of Arabic. In 1648 he also was given the chair of Hebrew. This first edition of Specimen historiae arabum, a short account of the history and customs of the Arabs, is based on the chronicle of Bar Hebraeus, also known as Abu'l-Faraj, a versatile thirteenth-century Jewish scholar from Syria. In compiling his work, Pococke utilized innumerable manuscript sources which are still of value to the scholar.

Joannes Fredericus Gronovius
Ad L. et M. Annaeus Senecas notae
Leiden: Ex officina Elzeviriana, 1649

Gronovius (1611-1671) entered the University of Leiden in 1634 and completed his academic studies at Groningen. Upon matriculation he travelled throughout Italy, France, and England. During this period, he undertook extensive manuscript research which supplied him with abundant material for later editions of the Latin classics. While at Leiden he had studied with luminaries such as Daniel Heinsius, Vossius, and Grotius. Like many of his contemporaries, Gronovius had a preference for first-century Latin prose, and his editions of Livy, both Senecas, Tacitus, and Gellius met with much acclaim. Ad L. et M. Annaeus Senecas notae (1649) contains his commentary upon the Elzevir Seneca, issued in 1639 ­ 40, in the recension of Kaspar Schott, with emendations by Lipsius.

Bernard de Montfaucon
Palaeographia graeca
Paris; Ludovicus Guerin [etc.], 1708

Belonging to a noble and ancient line, Bernard de Montfaucon (1655 ­ 1741) was destined for a military career but spent most of his youth in the family library at the castle of Roquetaillade. Ill-health and the death of his parents caused him to choose the life of a monk. Taking his vows in 1676, Montfaucon subsequently lived at various abbeys in France and Italy. His unlimited access to the manuscripts of numerous monastic libraries led to his important work Palaeographia graeca, first published in 1708. Besides establishing the foundations of Greek palaeography, the book contains a remarkable list of 11,630 manuscripts which the author consulted for its preparation. Illustrating the history of Greek writing and the variation of its characters, Palaeographia graeca is still a mine of valuable information for the classical scholar.

Barnabé Brisson
De formulis et solennibus
populi Romani verbis
Frankfurt and Leipzig: In officina Weidmanniana, 1754

The study of jurisprudence in eighteenth-century Germany, stimulated by research on ancient Roman law, developed along two distinct lines: that of the philosophical jurists, such as Heineccius, and that of historical jurists, exemplified by Franz Carl Conrad (1701 ­ 1748) and Johann August Bach (1721 ­ 1758). Bach revised Conrad's edition of the famous treatise by Barnabé Brisson (1531 ­ 1591) on ancient Roman legal terms and phrases, hoping to counter the proposals made by the philosophical jurists with a sound legal history that appealed to national sentiment. Brisson, a member of the court of Henry III at Paris, remained the unquestioned authority on ancient Roman legal terminology until the discovery of the Institutiones of Gaius in 1816.

Johann Gottlieb Heineccius
Romanarum iurisprudentiam
illustrantium syntagma
Strassburg: Johannes Reinhold Dulssecker, 1730

Johann Gottlieb Heineccius (1681-1741), an important teacher of law, belonged to the school of philosophical jurists. In the present work, he treated law as a rational science by grounding jurisprudence in first principles. In this way, Heineccius developed legal doctrines into a system of philosophy which appealed to the educated public of the time. As the major text from which the eighteenth century learned Roman law, the work proved to be very influential in the refinement of continental legal canons based upon Roman precedents.

Ernst Martin Chladni
De gentilitate veterum Romanorum
Leipzig: In officina Langenhemiana, 1742

A son and grandson of noted theologians, Ernst Martin Chladni was born at Wittenberg in 1715. Later a professor of law, he attained an early mastery of philosophy and jurisprudence at the University of Wittenberg. He was also skilled in archaeology, epigraphy, and numismatics. Such a wide range of interests combined with a tendency towards systematization led to the writing of De gentilitate, an influential eighteenth-century work on historical methodology. A revision of a much shorter and less comprehensive work issued in 1738, De gentilitate argues that the most accurate historical investigation must proceed not only from works of literature, but also from coins, marble inscriptions, monuments, and other archaeological evidence.

Adam Ferguson
Geschichte des Fortgangs und
Untergangs der Römischen Republik
Leipzig: M. G. Weidmanns Erben und Reich, 1784

In order to develop general theories about politics and society which would be universally valid, many eighteenth-century thinkers turned to the history of the ancient Roman republic. "Rise and fall" literature thus constituted a distinct genre which attracted such notables as Montesquieu, Gibbon, and Adam Ferguson (1723 ­ 1816). Ferguson, a Scotsman who was a friend of David Hume and an admirer of Montesquieu, followed the latter in basing his moral philosophy upon history and observation instead of upon abstract theory. The original English edition of History of the Progress and Termination of the Roman Republic appeared in 1783. Extremely popular, Ferguson's work went through many editions, including this translation into German of 1784. The book resulted from Ferguson's conviction that the history of the Roman republic served as a practical illustration of contemporary ethical and political doctrines.

Louis de Beaufort
La république romaine,
ou plan général
de l'ancien gouvernement de Rome
The Hague: Nicolas van Daalen, 1766

Amidst eighteenth-century discussions concerning republican government, traditional historical methodology, especially that relating to the Roman republic, came under increased scrutiny. Louis de Beaufort (1703-1795) was a bold critic who questioned the credibility of early Roman history. In La république romaine and other works he showed that even historians of the highest repute, such as Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, were unreliable guides for the period of the Roman republic. Pleading against standard histories such as Charles Rollin (1661-1741) was then writing, Beaufort indicated those methods and documents by which a sound basis might be provided for Roman history.

Antonio Lafreri et al.
Speculum Romanae magnificentiae
[Rome, etc., mid-sixteenth to eighteenth century]

The city of Rome had served as a cultural and religious magnet for many centuries before the advent of printing and engraving techniques made possible the mass reproduction of pictorial representations of the Eternal City. Undying in their quest to reach Rome, countless pilgrims and tourists flocked to the center of Catholicism ­ and sought visual mementos for future times at home. The engravings contained in Speculum are indeed exquisite mirrors which have hung in the sitting rooms and halls of cultured Europeans since their production in the later half of the sixteenth century. Those acquired in the Berlin Purchase, some 994 in all, comprise one of the largest-known collections of Speculum. Issued as a series of prints over the years rather than in volumes, visitors in Rome were able to stop by Lafreri's shop and select those prints which suited their own tastes, eventually mounting them in scrapbooks or having them bound into volumes.

Giovanni Battista Piranesi
Alcune vedute di archi trionfali
ed altri monumenti
[Rome, 1778 - 1792]

The adroit transformations which Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720 -1778) elected upon the ruins of Rome lent to his engravings a romantic unrestraint which made them so very popular during the eighteenth century. Piranesi, a celebrated Italian architect, designer, and engraver, continually fed the imagination of a tumultuous and war-torn Europe with idealized vedute that tantalized the viewer with glimpses of the stability and security of ancient Rome. Alcune vedute di archi trionfali, the majority of which were issued in 1748, reflects the influence of the architects Palladio, Bibiena, and Fischer von Erlach upon the young Piranesi. A grasp of perspective, mastery of chiaroscuro, and appreciation of archaeology merge in these vistas of ruined splendor.

Guiseppe Agostino Vasi
Prospetto dell' alma citta' di Roma
[Rome?], 1765

The immense panoramic view of Rome engraved in the eighteenth century by the Sicilian artist, Giuseppe Agostino Vasi, is as spectacular today as it was two centuries ago. Produced during the 1750s and 1760s by Vasi with the assistance of Piranesi and others, the work is invaluable not only for its artistic and technical excellence, but also for its accurate depiction of a Rome long since changed. Due to the painstaking efforts of Vasi and his staff, even minute details of vanished buildings and alleys can be discerned. To have the vast splendor of Rome unfold into a single breathtaking panorama was Vasi's idea of a fitting climax to his Magnificenze di Roma, a series of ten volumes, which took him fourteen years to complete.

Joachim von Sandrart
Des Alten und Neuen Roms Grosser Schau-Platz
Nuremberg: Christian Sigmund Froberg, 1685

Joachim von Sandrart (1606 ­ 1688) was a celebrated German artist and art historian whose Teutsche Academie (1675 ­ 1679) was long regarded as the most complete history of architecture, painting, and sculpture (covering Eastern as well as Western art). The work not only draws upon Vasari, Palladio, Serlio, and van Mander, but also provides biographies of artists, information about art collections, and a study of iconography. Des Alten und Neuen Roms Grosser Schau-Platz reproduced most of the architectural engravings contained in this earlier work and added a German translation to the Latin text. Displaying engraving skills which he had learned from Johannes Theodor de Bry, son of the noted German engraver, Sandrart also incorporated plates by Johann Meyer and Johann Franck. Of interest are the many ground plans for the buildings depicted, some of which no longer exist.

Pierre François Hugues d'Hancarville
Collection of Etruscan, Greek,
and Roman Antiquities
Naples: François Morelli, 1766-67
Four volumes

Sir William Hamilton (1739-1803), envoy of Great Britain to the court of Naples from 1764-1800, used both his social position and skill as an archaeologist to assemble an exceptionally fine collection of Etruscan, Greek, and Roman antiquities, some of whose contents now reside in the British Museum. Pierre François Hugues d'Hancarville (1729-1805), an adventurer and antiquarian, was given access to Hamilton's cabinet and in 1729-1767 issued Etruscan, Greek, and Roman Antiquities. The four expensive folio volumes, including French and English texts, contain many delicate and artfully colored engravings of designs and borders which were applied in ancient times to vases, plates, and other objets d'art. The Antiquities thus provided an enriching visual experience for connoisseurs of fine art and expanded the range of contemporary classicism.