The importance of small details

As last week’s update on the book said, there were lots of minor things that I wanted to get resolved before I left London. Most of these presented relatively few problems.

A few though caused me considerably more work. With Vitoria I ended up using a bi-lingual German-Latin edition of his Vorlesungen. With the Plutarch quotation that Lipsius uses I was able to track down the ‘Plutarch, Apopht‘ reference to his Moralia (with some help from a friend) and then to find the original. This is the passage I posted a few days ago. I did eventually find Voltaire’s comment about the Holy Roman Empire, but it wasn’t where the reference I’d seen said it was. And I finally found the original place where Baldus says that territory and jurisdiction go together ‘like mist in a swamp’.

The original Greek text of Aelius Aristides’ 26th oration, on Rome, doesn’t appear to have been published in a modern edition. The Loeb library intended to produce bilingual editions, but only the first volume which covers the first two Orations, was published and then it was discontinued. The Opera quae exstant Omnia, edited by Lenz and Behr only appears to have had the first volume—in four parts—published. This covers Orations I-XVI but as far as I can tell no further. In the end I found a 1898 German edition which had the required text. What’s strange is that the English translation which I first read – and wanted to check for some small details – is by Charles Behr, and he says that all the translations are based on the critical edition he’d done. So if he’d done the work, why was the Opera unfinished?

Another challenge – and one that so far remains unresolved – is a passage in Nicholas of Cusa’s De concordantia catholica (III, vi, 343).

We should note that his power to command does not extend beyond the boundaries of his empire [terminus imperii] under him, as is evident in the text Ego Ludovicus, where although Louis describes himself as emperor, he issues commands only to the inhabitants of the kingdom of France and the Lombards who were his de facto subjects. And following this we should say that the emperor is said to be lord of the world as ruler of the empire that the Romans once conquered by their valor, as the text [C.] 28 q. 1 para Ex his says, deriving from that title from the fact that the Romans had the greater part of the world under their rule.

The reference to ‘Ego Ludovicus’ is to Decretum Gratiani, I, lxiii, xxx, in J.P. Migne (ed.), Patrologiæ Latinæ, 1891, Vol 187, columns 339-40.

The bit I can’t trace is the reference to “28 q. 1 para Ex his”. The English editor Sigmund inserts the “[C]”. I wondered if this was a reference to a chapter , or even the Roman law Codex, but neither are right. The Latin text has “C. 28 q. 1 § 2 Virtutibus promererunt imperium (post C. 14)”.  It didn’t seem to be to Decretum Gratiani, I, lxiii, xxviii (that is, very close to the prior reference); and it did not appear to be a reference to Causa 28 quaestio 1 canon 2. That particular hunt continues.

Why does all this matter? I’ve made a decision that I will check everything to the original language; that I will not have references of the style ‘X cited by Y’; and that I’ll try to take nothing on trust or assumption. It’s vastly increased the workload, and there have been many moments when I’ve been sorely tempted by the academic shortcut, but I’ve discovered so many things by following things up and checking everything that I’d hate to abandon this policy. Yes it’s obsessive, and I know that there will still be mistakes. But they will be ones of incompetence rather than inaction.

This entry was posted in Baldus de Ubaldis, Francisco de Vitoria, Nicholas of Cusa, Territory, The Birth of Territory. Bookmark the permalink.

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