ON TERENCE AND OTHER ROMAN AFRICANS
RICHARD J. SCHOECK
ANY roads lead from Terence to the modern world: in drama, through Shakespeare, Molière and others; in Latin thought and letters and in education, through Erasmus above all. Terence's plays were school texts during the Empire - witness the early commentary by Donatus on Terence as evidence of his strong use in the Latin classrooms - and they continued to be school texts through the medieval centuries and the Renaissance.1 Erasmus is said to have known the six plays by heart, and Terence ranks very high among the classical authors quoted in the Adagia. 2 Long admired for his style and naturalness of language, Terence has often been held up for his moral sentiments, even when these sometimes have another meaning when taken in their dramatic context. Thus Terence's famous "Homo sum: nil a me alienum puto" was spoken by a boring busybody, not unlike Polonius, who gave voice to the also much quoted "To thine own self be true" that has much less idealism than what is generally attributed to it out of its context in Hamlet. The listener or reader might well quote from Terence's last play, the Adelphoe in which Syrus declares, "well, look, I really haven't got time to listen now . . . " (413). But Terence will get his revenge sooner or later as a master of common sense, as in A. E. Housman's fine line, "Terence, this is stupid stuff."
The Comedies of Terence were taught in the Roman schools, often with the aid of the Donatian commentary, and Augustine knew them well. Not all of Augustine's recollection of learning Terence was favorable, for in an early passage in the Confessions (I.xvi) he looked back with moral disapproval on the educating of youth with Terence in one hand and a whip or branch in the other. Indicating the stream of human custom he cried out:
And yet, thou stream of hell, into thee are cast the sons of men, with rewards for learning these things; and much is made of it when this is going on in the forum in the sight of laws which grant a salary over and above the rewards. And thou beatest against thy rocks and roarest, saying, "Hence words are learnt; hence eloquence is to be attained, most necessary to persuade people to your way of thinking, and to unfold your opinions." So, in truth, we should never have understood these words, "golden shower," "bosom," "intrigue," "highest heavens," and other words written in the same place, unless Terence had introduced a good-for-nothing youth upon the state, setting up Jove as his example of lewdness: "Viewing a picture, where the tale was drawn, Of Jove's descending in a golden shower To Danae's bosom . . . with a woman to intrigue." And see how he excites himself to lust, as if by celestial authority, when he says: "Great Jove, Who shakes the highest heavens with his thunder, And I, poor mortal man, not do the same! I did it, and with all my heart I did it" (Eunuchus 584-591).Augustine continues:
Not one whit more easily are the words learnt for this vileness, but by their means is the vileness perpetrated with more confidence. I do not blame the words, they being, as it were, choice and precious vessels, but the wine of error which was drunk in them to us by inebriated teachers; and unless we drank, we were beaten, without liberty of appeal to any sober judge.However, Terence is also given as an authority on the distresses of social life. "What shall I say of the miseries of love which Terence also recounts - slights, suspicions, quarrels, war today, peace tomorrow?" (Adelphoe), adding, "Is not human life full of such things?"3 This surely is the context of ideas for the allusion in a rhetorical question, "Why, then, doth truth beget hatred . . . ?" echoing Andria I.i.41 in Confessions X.xxiii. A much broader view of the grammatical employment of Terence in the Roman schools is a citation from Andria, I.ii.33: "And when we say that an eloquent man uses fair words, he also uses fair names, and when the slave in Terence's play said to the old lord, 'I seek fair words,' he had also expressed many nouns" (De Magistro). Yet another dimension of Terentian influence builds upon the masterful prologues of the dramatist, for Terence in his prologues takes "audiences into [his] confidence, and touches contemporary societies at some of their nerve centers," as William C. Greene has observed.4 As with Erasmus in a later age, Augustine has from Terence learned the art of speaking to his audience in a direct style, and this skill contributed mightily to the success of Augustine.
One thread that connects Terence with both Apuleius and Augustine is that of Africa, for all three - Terence, Apuleius and Augustine - were born in Africa; and another is the elevation of style to striking importance in their writings, indeed in their visions of reality.
Africa: culture often gets its energies from the frontiers of the society, as nineteenth-century American letters did from Mark Twain and others from west of the Hudson River. To be sure, the capital characteristically sneers at the frontiers: what we might call the Roman or Parisian or Boston sneer that survives to today. I can attest to the story that the Mediaeval Academy of America, for so many years anchored in Cambridge, Massachusetts, used to refer to the alternating meetings in Toronto, Princeton or Chapel Hill as the "western meetings" - new blood and new ideas are clearly needed at the center, which, Yeats tells us, is always giving way.
Energy flows from the frontiers: as twentieth-century British letters still does from such writers as Tolkien (born in South Africa), C. S. Lewis (from Northern Ireland), or, more recently, Patrick White (from Australia) and Nadine Gordimer (from South Africa). These obviously are only a few, but a notable few who have changed or influenced ideas and forms in modern literature and there are others, to be sure.
In the history of Roman thought and letters a remarkable flow of energy and creativity came from Spain, for example, with the notable contributions from the two Senecas, Lucan, Columella, Quintilian and Martial, as well as that most valuable transmitter of Roman culture, the seventh-century bishop of Seville, Isidore. Africa merits our attention in this respect and it is worth giving attention to the flourishing urban life in Roman Africa under Augustus and his successors. During the second century after Christ the influence of African senators in Rome was strong, perhaps the most notable being Septimius Severus, who became Emperor in 193, until his death in 211 A.D. He was a respected military leader who left a huge surplus at his death. No Pentagonistus ille. Yet even so late as the fourth century, Brown comments, the fully Latinized African remained somewhat alien. "The opinion of the outside world was unanimous. Africa, in their opinion, was wasted on the Africans." 5 What better seed-bed in which certain kinds of genius might be irritated and then flower? Twenty years ago I wanted to call attention to this dimension in Augustine by beginning a long poem on the conversion of Augustine with the words "African Augustus . . . "
Let us take up Apuleius. His dates are only approximate, around 124 to 170 A.D. To say that he was a rhetorician does not go far enough: he was one who believed in the power of words to do more than merely communicate. He was one for whom style was an enabling power to generate concepts and constructs. Most rhetoricians are proud of their verbal powers, like Patrick Buchanan or William Buckley: that is the temptation of rhetoric in a waste of politics. Apuleius was a rhetorician who was proud of his virtuosity, for he spoke and wrote on a wide range of topics and in a number of forms; rhetoricians of the period from Apuleius and Augustine were in some ways like jazz musicians. In a fruitful comparison, Marrou has likened the impromptu performance of the master rhetoricians of the late classical age to the virtuoso techniques of a Hot Jazz trumpeter: "they could bring out themes deeply imbedded in their own memory and held at readiness for themselves and their hearers by centuries of tradition and could weave such themes into new combinations. These new combinations often had a topical relevance all the more cogent for being expressed in ancient, easily intelligible terms."6 I move quickly past Apuleius' philosophical works, where he still has a historical importance as a transmitter of Platonic thought, in his writings on Plato and his teaching, on Socrates, and in a Latin translation of the Pseudo-Aristotelian Peri kosmos. Of course, he wrote and presented declamations - don't all rhetoricians? And his Apologia (Pro se de Magia) is a refutation of the charge that he employed magic in winning a rich widow as his wife (to be echoed in Shakespeare's Othello), and this reputation in magic is a part of the Apuleius on whom St. Augustine drew for his writing on demons in the De Civitate Dei VIII-IX, and in speaking of Apuleius' fame as a magician in Epistolae 136 and 138. We turn to Apuleius' rambling novel called the Metamorphoses, or The Golden Ass. The title Metamorphoses obviously pays a debt to Ovid, and the work speaks to the fascination of the ancient (and Renaissance) world with possibilities of change of form, conversion, metamorphoses - thus in A Midsummer's Night's Dream, Shakespeare is playing with that theme in Bottom's wearing of an ass's head, a device that is theatrically speaking, not asinine, but golden.
If I might be permitted a digression: it is well-known to historians of the Roman law, but certainly not to literary historians, that there is a famous, even notorious, text in Ulpian, incorporated into the Digest at D.18.104.22.168 concerning the waywardness of a jackass. (The precise term is significant, for a jackass is a male ass or donkey as in Apuleius.) Roman lawyers were concerned with the question whether a taking away, that is, a theft, of a jackass for breeding with the perpetrator's mare constituted theft (furtus, which has the figurative senses of underhand methods, and most interestingly, even of secret or stolen love). According to the legal text, if anyone drives off my jackass and puts it among his mares for breeding purposes only, he is not liable to the actio furti unless he had the intention of stealing. The further question taken up at another point in the Digest is whether there has been corruptio (spoiling), and it has been argued that Ulpian "could equally hold that a jackass was not used [in the technical sense of enjoying a benefit] when it was simply enabled to follow its natural instinct and mate with the mares." 7 I think that this legal point is glanced at in Book VII of The Golden Ass in "not having regard to the law and order of the hospitable god Jupiter" and in that they "feared for the cuckolding of their race by a weakling." The point is that the interpretation of Ulpian, albeit it is only a generation or perhaps a little more after the writing of Apuleius, takes up the example of a wayward jackass to explicate an obscure, but perfectly appropriate, legal issue; and it is not impossible that the ass of Apuleius was at the bottom of it. (I wrote that last sentence in a purely literal sense: I assure you that no metaphors or overtones were intended.)
The Golden Ass is a novel, perhaps even (it has been called) a rambling novel, though the descriptive term rambling was used by a pre-modernist. Novels are infra-dig to serious Roman historians and literary critics, and there is little discussion of them in classical history or other writings. Two specimens of the Roman novel survive: the one, Petronius' Satyricon, is splendid Menippean satire, combining prose and verse; the other, The Golden Ass of Apuleius, works with elements of the Greek love romance, and there is in fact extant the core of Apuleius' borrowed plot. By training as well as by instinct Apuleius was bilingual - as true humanism has always been - and he draws heavily upon a number of Greek sources, and part of the fascination of his novel is the interweaving or embedding of Greek tales, that of Cupid and Psyche most gloriously but there are others. There are many intertextualities, as we would now say, in the work, and between the texts of Apuleius and several of those of Augustine. The Golden Ass is told in the first person and organized in eleven books. There are three books of incidents of an amorous nature to develop the character of the narrator, who then ventures into magic, with one experiment manquÿeae resulting in his transformation into an ass. There is a good deal of modernist movement in and out of the narrative. Thus, with considerable ironic self-reflexivity, in Book VI the narrator inserts the apology, "I, poor ass, not standing far off, was not a little sorry in that I lacked pen and book [pugillares et stilum non habebam] to write so worthy a tale" (VI.25). A young maiden seeking aid from the ass offers a number of inducements, not least that "all the history of this our present flight shall be painted upon the wall of our house: thou shalt be renowned throughout all the world, and this tale (though rude) shall be registered in the books of the doctors" (visetur et in fabulis audietur doctorumque stilis rudis perpetuabitur historia) (VI.29). Here with the virgin in great triumph sitting upon an ass (VII.13) and (in IX.14), an abandoned woman is apparently presented with some dislike as a Christian, there are analogies with or comments upon religion. But much of the work moves close to parody. Thus (VII.26), the narrator speaks of his reader as "My Bellerophon," thereby implying that he himself was a Pegasus in the form of an ass; or more directly in the Meleager-Althea story in Book VII, where Ovid's Metamorphoses are directly echoed (VIII.451). The readiness of Apuleius to move in and out of conventional genres is highlighted by remarks such as the direct address to the reader in Book X:
Gentle reader, thou shalt not read of a fable, but rather a tragedy, and must here change from sock to buskin (X.2).One of the many masters of the ass instructs him (as he thinks) to sit at the table, to wrestle and dance, and even to answer those who might speak to him - are we to read this as a humorous comment on those teachers who take all the credit for what their students have learned? The mating of the ass with a fair matron disturbed the modesty of the sixteenth-century Adlington, and he left out certain lines propter honestatem: these lines alone should commend the script to Hollywood for a sequel to Basic Instincts.
It is surely in the middle
books in which the tale of Cupid and Psyche is told -
occupying nearly a quarter of the entire work - that the
resonances of the Roman novel with its Greek models can best
be seen, and these are the most satisfying portions of the
work. This story reads on several levels simultaneously, with
interaction among them. On the first level there is the
familiar fairy story, with a number of motifs well known in
folk-tale stories and studies; introduced as "a pleasant old wives' tale
to put away all thy sorrow and to revive thy spirits"
There was [once upon a time] a certain king, inhabiting in the west parts, who had to wife a noble dame, by whom he had three daughters exceeding fair: of whom the two elder were of most comely shape and beauty, yet they did not excel all the praise and commendation of mortal speech; but the singular passing beauty and maidenly majesty [that implausible oxymoron, maidenly majesty, is the addition of the translator] of the youngest daughter was so far excellent . . . (IV.28)- she is even more lovely than Venus herself.
On another level, the tale moves neo-Platonically: the marriage of Psyche, the soul, with Cupid (whose name, Cupido in Latin, carries with it the significations and overtones of the noun cupido, desire or longing, the desire that springs from love, having in view the adjective cupideneus, with its transferred meaning of the sexual impulse): the marriage, that is to say, of the soul with fleshly desire. On yet another level, there is a kind of Ovidian comedy, which represents the goddesses of Olympia who are pictured in the limelight of Roman laws and etiquette. Thus even mighty Juno is constrained to say that she is ashamed to do anything contrary to the will of her daughter-in-law Venus, and, she adds, "moreover I shall incur the danger of the law entitled De servo corrupto, whereby I am forbidden to retain any servant fugitive against the will of his master" (VI.4). And on a fourth level, there is the playfulness of the consummate rhetorician, who moves along a broad spectrum of sometimes outlandish vocabulary, and indulgences quite freely in the sound effects in the kit-bag of rhetoric: assonance like savia suavia (sweet kisses, VI.8), or sound-plays like sordis infimae infamis homo (an infamous fellow of extreme sordidness, I.28). The classical Latin prose of Cicero reaches to the effects here of Joycean liberties with structures and sounds, and variations on known models. To give one more extended example from the celebrated prayer of Psyche to Ceres in Book VI.2), with its operatic virtuosity (for it was read aloud):
'Per ego te frugiferam tuam dexteram istam deprecor, per laetificas messium caerominias, per tacita secreta cistarum et per famulorum tuorum draconum pinnata curricula et glebae Siculae sulcamina et curram rapacem et terram tenacem et inluminarum Proserpinae nuptiarum demeacula et luminosarum filiae inventionum remeacula, et cetera quae silentio tegit Eleusinis Atticae sacrarium, miserandae Psyches animae, supplicis tuae subsiste.'One cannot capture the elaborated rhythms and sound devices in an English translation, only the literal sense, which runs:
"O great and holy goddess, I pray thee by thy plenteous and liberal right hand, by thy joyful ceremonies of harvest, by the secrets of thy baskets, by the flying chariots of the dragons thy servants, by the tillage of the ground of Sicily which thou hast invented, by the chariot of the ravishing god [Pluto], by the earth that held thy daughter fast, by the dark descent to the unillumined marriage of Proserpina, by thy diligent inquisition of her and thy bright return, and by the other secrets which are concealed within the temple of Eleusis in the land of Athens, take pity on me thy servant Psyche, and help my miserable soul, and let me hide myself . . . "Manifestly, Apuleius is capable of rising to the grand style, and it is mark of his rhetorical nature that he moves from one to another of the different levels of rendering in The Golden Ass. I must give you one further example. When I read the following sentence, are you not reminded of the Augustine of the Confessions? "While I pondered tempestuously with myself all these things . . ." But no, it is Apuleius in Book VII.4.
African Augustine too was a master rhetorician, and the craft of rhetoric is a vital connecting-link between Apuleius and Augustine. So many of the techniques used by Apuleius to which I have called attention are present in Augustine: the deliberate addresses to the reader, the consciousness of levels of style and the self-reflexivity in the shifts from one to another, the uses of different genres (even more than Apuleius, Augustine was a master of many genres), and the inexhaustible richness of Latin prose in the hands of one who never lost his awareness of an attentive but demanding audience. To be sure, Augustine learned his craft from other models than Apuleius, and we know how sedulously he studied Cicero; but it must be remarked that Augustine was not the master of Greek that Apuleius was. Not only is there a loss in the bilingual resonance that gives what has been called a rococo glitter to many places in Apuleius, but there is far less of the making use of the available resources of Greek thought, especially of Plato: the humanistic tradition in the West is already beginning to lose touch with the Greek sources in that fifth century of Augustine (who died in 430). The closing of the Academy at Athens by Justinian in 529 A.D. is the final death-knell to that great heritage, not to be revived again uninterruptedly and fully until the fifteenth century.
Not only is it most unlikely that Augustine spoke anything but Latin, but his Latin was spoken with an accent in the opinion of the Roman world outside Africa.8 Romans, it would appear, were as much aware of accents as Parisians in our modern world, or New Yorkers, who think that everyone else besides themselves speak with accents. Accents do not matter much on the frontier, although Mark Twain was able to distinguish seven accents or dialects in Huckleberry Finn; but they do matter to people who think that they are at the centers of culture. For Terence it was vital to get the language and accents right in his Roman Comedies that were seeking to capture the realities of human life. For Apuleius and Augustine the concerns were somewhat different.
Peter Brown has observed that Augustine's Confessions may be yoked with the Golden Ass of Apuleius:
Men like these gifted Africans could write novels: an unfailing eye for detail, for the picaresque, and an interest in the stirrings of the heart have ensured that the only two books of Latin literature that a modern man can place with ease beside the fiction of today were written by Africans - The Golden Ass of Apuleius and . . . The Confessions of Augustine. Augustine had been encouraged to weep gloriously at the tale of Dido and Aeneas, a very African interlude in the life of the upright founder of Rome, and it is an African poet who will rectify the omissions of Vergil by writing the love letters of the deserted queen.9The second and third centuries were the period of affluence and influence for the gifted Africans of the Empire - so many of them lawyers and rhetoricians - and those Africans seem to have been characterized by a love of words like that of a twentieth-century Welsh poet, Dylan Thomas, who came to London and joined the BBC, conquering that bastion at the center, and made a reputation by displays and self-justification, by sometimes eccentric language and rhetoric.
There are several major references in the City of God to Apuleius. In Book VII.xvi, Augustine discussed what Apuleius the Platonist thought concerning demons, and in Book IX.vi, he wrote that Apuleius maintained that certain passions agitate the demons who are supposed to mediate between gods and men. These chapters deal with Apuleius' Apologia, Pro se de Magia, and they (together with Epistles 136 and 138) indicate that Apuleius was taken very seriously in these spheres of thought. In a later book, XVIII.xviii, Augustine wrote as follows: "Yet their mind did not become bestial, but remained rational and human, just as Apuleius, in the books he wrote with the title of The Golden Ass, has told, or feigned, that it happened to his own self that, on taking poison, he became an ass, while retaining his human mind." Here Augustine again takes Apuleius seriously at the level of moral allegory, and this is a point developed by Erasmus in one of his Colloquies, where a character comments, "He's Apuleius reversed. Apuleius concealed his humanity under the guise of an ass; this fellow hides his asinity under the guise of a man."9
It is a simple matter to establish Augustine's familiarity with the full range of Apuleius' writings; but what would be more difficult would be to determine how much of a model The Golden Ass was for The Confessions. In both there is the development of the theme of metamorphosis, change, conversion. The prose styles too have much in common; for while there are patristic models for rhymed prose, the Kunstprosa on which Norden and others have written, there are echoes of Apuleius in Augustine's sense of freedom in word-play and in realizing the literary potentials of a concept or the power of a rhetorical opportunity. Still more, there is the fascinating concept in Apuleius of the double transformation of Lucius from man to ass, and then back again: what are the Confessions of Augustine but a magisterial dwelling upon the transformation of an unlettered African into a professional pagan rhetorician, and then into the Christian of his middle and later years? And the moving description of the induction of Lucius into the mysteries of Isis and Osiris in Book XI of The Golden Ass may well have served as a challenge for Augustine's own induction into Christianity. Some classicists have spoken of the prose of Apuleius as highly artificial; so in a sense it is, for it seeks both to develop a luxuriance and to call attention to the process of doing just that, our twentieth-century self-reflexivity.10 But that luxuriant quality is not uniquely African (Africitas), for it is a stylistic quality which can be found before and after Apuleius, although not again with such exuberance and Joycean playfulness.
Parallels, yes, even affinities, but at heart The Golden Ass is at times a strongly, though never overtly, anti-Christian work, and so there is a major shift in Augustine's developing the beauty of the works of God in Book XIII of The Confessions ; manifestly there is nothing in Apuleius comparable to the indwelling of God for Augustine.
Terence belongs in any discussion of the language and style of Apuleius and Augustine, of course. But I urge that stronger parallels and affinities between Apuleius and Augustine were many and real. I've not even mentioned, such are the constraints of a brief essay, the parallel that both Apuleius and Augustine after much travelling returned to Africa. We are more familiar with Augustine's biography at Cassiciacum, where he founded the beginnings of western monasticism, and at Hippo, where he was elected bishop and launched his activities as a true father of the Church; we are less familiar with the fact that Apuleius enjoyed great prestige at Carthage as poet, philosopher and rhetorician, and from the Florida we know that he was appointed chief priest of the province. Statues were even erected in his honor at Carthage and at Madaurus, where Augustine studied for a time: this was the birthplace of Apuleius. The wonder is not that Augustine cite and discusses Apuleius as much as he does, but rather that there is not even more, given the prestige of Apuleius still only two centuries after his death. In the Epistles 136 and 138 Augustine takes Apuleius very seriously: he was not altogether sure that he had not undergone an actual metamorphosis into an ass, and he warns his faithful against those in Africa who praised Apuleius as a magician whose powers surpassed those of Christ. 11 Perhaps to his own age, in that still fragile world of the early fourth century after Christ with Rome on the brink of collapse and Christianity still developing, Augustine felt that Apuleius embodied the world of magic that needed renunciation, like the Prospero world of Shakespeare's Tempest, and there is much grounding in the readings of The Golden Ass as an anti-Christian writing. Yet later writers might feel that rhetoric too was a word-magic, and that it too needed to be renounced. Not so for Augustine. Perhaps that is why with Petronius and with Apuleius, as with Terence earlier, it is Latin with laughter; but not so with Augustine, who, in passages that we have seen in The Confessions and The City of God, felt it necessary to renounce Terence. Well might Lothair, a Holy Roman Emperor five or six centuries later, declare that Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis.
It is appropriate to return to the figure of Erasmus and to consider the powerful impact of Terence upon the later Dutchman, not only by virtue of the importance of Erasmus and his writing but perhaps even more because for us today Erasmus stands at the end of the medieval Terentian tradition and tell us much about the humanistic transformation of that tradition. This matters almost as much as the fact that he helped forge the Renaissance tradition in which Terence played so vital a role. Erasmian scholarship, as in his editing of the text of Plautus, obviously matters greatly: but we must also be concerned with the development of dialogue by Erasmus into an instrument which answered to the need for acute observation of the life experience at hand and at the same time for analysis of that experience. Terence gave the spark to the Erasmian version of a sense of felt life.
From Beatus Rhenanus, his beloved friend and author, we know that as a boy Erasmus memorized Terence: Terentii comoedias puer non secus tenebat ac digitos suos; memoria nanque fuit tenacissima, ingenio perpicacissimo (Allen 1,55/84-85). In about 1489, while still at Steyn, Erasmus gave to an unidentified friend, apparently in return for some kindness shown him, a manuscript of Terence much of which is a critique of late Latin teaching of grammar.
And I think that, as with other authors, this [reading a text and "filling up all the margins with annotations of many kinds"] ought to be a common practice when reading Terence, the author of this book, for anyone who wishes to acquire a proper command of the Roman idiom, not the half-Latin-half-French which is approximately what our schoolmasters and their Alexander [Alexandre de Ville-Dieu, author of a medieval grammar] teach.Erasmus then praises Terence's style as "wonderfully pure, choice, and elegant"; and he singles out his "polished and witty charm". Finally, Erasmus concludes, the fools - the pedants - "fail to perceive how much moral goodness exists in Terence's plays, how much implicit exhortation to shape one's life." 12
We know in fact that in the monastery Erasmus did secretly at times stay up most of the night reading Latin literature, and especially the plays of Terence with a friend; 13 much of this habit results in the early (though published much later) Antibarbari. Later, while in Italy from 1506 to 1509, Erasmus lived with the great humanist-printer Aldus Manutius, and one of his achievements was his work on the Aldine editions of Terence and Plautus, for which he endeavored to restore the versification. Many years later Erasmus published with the Swiss printer Froben his edition of the comedies of Terence, with an important commentary, a graceful preface, and notes on the metres employed by Terence. More than forty editions of Terence in the next century built upon the edition by Erasmus. As was the Renaissance (and modern) practice, editors drew upon the work of their predecessors, and in late sixteenth-century and seventeenth-century editions Erasmus' commentaries, and often his editorial conjectures, are used without attribution. In speaking of Erasmus and Terence, finally, one could not overlook the vital Terentian element in Erasmus' most imaginative writing, the Moriae Encomium, Adagia, and Colloquia. Terence with laughter indeed.14 But nothing like a final evaluation of Terentian influence in the Renaissance is possible until there has been further study of the innumerable editions with commentaries, for the commentaries of Donatus, Calphurnius, and later Erasmus and Moretus continued to be reprinted. These commentaries reveal much of how an author was read and taught in the schools. Thus Erasmus stands at the end of the medieval tradition of Terence, and he helped to forge the Renaissance and modern traditions.
1 See the observation of R. E. Bolgar that "a
commentary is at once a record of its author's teaching and a
guide which his successors would use": Bolgar, ed. Classical
Influences on European Culture, A.D. 500-1500
(Cambridge, 1971), p. 11. In the same volume S. Viarre alludes
to the commentary of William of Conches on Terence, p. 208,
which is an indication of his continuing use in the schools.
2 Phillips 1955, pp. 93-94.
3 City of God, XIX.v.
4 William C. Greene, "`Gentle Reader': More on the Spoken and the Written Word," in The Classical Tradition: Literary and Historical Studies in Honor of Harry Caplan, ed. L. Wallach (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1966), p. 392.
5 P. 22.
6 H. I. Marrou, Histoire de l'education dans l'antiquité (Paris, 1956), p. 300; cited by Peter Brown, The Making of Late Antiquity (Cambridge, Mass., 1978), p. 8; see my "'Lighting a Candle to the Place': On the Dimensions and Implications of Imitatio in the Renaissance," Italian Culture, 4 (1983), pp. 127-128.
7 Alan Watson, "D. 22.214.171.124: The Jackass, the Mares and furtum," Labeo, 1975, reprinted in Studies in Roman Private Law (London, 1991), pp. 303-307.
8 Brown, pp. 22-24.
9 Epistula Didonis ad Aeneam, ed. Baehrens in Poetae Latini Minores , IV, pp. 271-277, cited by Brown, p. 23, n.
9 Colloquies, "The Sermon," p. 467.
10 On this question of luxuriance of style, see M. R. P. McGuire: "The style of Apuleius is luxuriant and highly artificial. It is no longer classified as peculiarly African Africitas, but is identified as a Latin form of Asianism . . ." pp. 709-710.
11 Oxford Classical Dictionary.
12 Collected Works of Erasmus (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1974-), 1, 58-59.
13 See my biography of Erasmus, The Making of a Humanist [Edinburgh University Press, 1990], 99-100).
14 For a recent discussion of Terentian influence, especially in Erasmus, see Daniel Kinney, "Erasmus and the Latin Comedians", in Actes du Colloque Erasme, Tours, 1986, ed. J. Chomarat, A Godin, and J.-C. Margolin (Geneva, 1990), 56-69. The survey by Margaret Mann Phillips, "Erasmus and the Classics", in, ed. T. A. Dorey (1970), 1-30, is a valuable introduction.
This is a chapter from the E-Book: Latin with Laughter: Terence through Time