Translating men : humanism and masculinity in Renaissance renditions of patristic texts
This doctoral thesis focusses upon the translation of patristic works into English in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Considering the pragmatic usage of texts in humanist culture, this research project explores the mobilisation of vernacular versions of the Church Fathers in response to historical crises. Regarding Renaissance humanism as a gendered intellectual methodology,I have investigated the way in which these texts particularly aim to address the needs of men, offering them exemplars to 'cope' with their social circumstances. The first chapter involves the analysis of Thomas Drant's rendition of Gregory of Nazianzus' Epigrams (1568) as part of the struggles of the early Elizabethan era. I suggest that this verse translation may possibly have played a supportive role for Protestant clerics facing a loss of humanist confidence due to educational deficiencies and the conflict of learning with the Catholic Louvainist scholars. The second chapter examines John Healey's version of Augustine's City of God (1610) in the context of the colonisation of Virginia. I propose that the Augustinian text - and the included commentary by Vives - may have represented a 'handbook' for the predominantly male community of planters confronted by (among other problems) the severe difficulty of establishing a household and fathering the next generation. The third chapter looks at Tobie Matthew's translation of Augustine's Confessions (1620) as an aid for Catholic Englishmen in an age of religious persecution. I contend that this text advertises and advances a passive / feminine form of manhood - which had been initially propagated by late sixteenth-century recusant ideology - in order to offer succour to its socially debilitated male readers. By undertaking an examination of these previously neglected texts, this thesis has attempted to expand the understanding of Renaissance humanist translation, as well as to offer a unique insight into the history of gender.