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Title: Nicholas Trevet's and Thomas Waleys's Commentaries on Augustine's De civitate Dei and later medieval approaches to antiquity
Author: Thorn, Edwina Maxine
Awarding Body: University of Bristol
Current Institution: University of Bristol
Date of Award: 2013
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Nicholas Trevet's and Thomas Waleys's commentaries on De civitate Dei are neglected works which provide valuable perspectives on attitudes to classical antiquity on the cusp of the Renaissance. The only existing study which pays more than cursory attention to these commentaries is Beryl Smalley's English Friars and Antiquity in the Early Fourteenth Century (1960). There they are discussed among the moralising biblical commentaries and preaching aids of the English classicising friars. Although Smalley recognised that the friars' work seemed to challenge the received understanding of medieval learning and the Renaissance, her assumptions about their critical method prevented her from fully recognising the commentaries' most innovative aspects. Recent debates about the definition and significance of Italian humanism, as well as fresh insights into scholastic exposition of the Latin Classics, biblical exegesis and encyclopaedic writing call for a reassessment of Trevet's and Waleys's commentaries and attitUdes to classical antiquity. Contrary to common belief, the commentaries share none of the dogmatic tone or moralising exegesis of contemporary classicising biblical commentaries and preaching aids. Instead they are pre-dominantly literal in their exposition. They show a sensitivity to historical difference and the periodisation of Roman history, and take an even-handed approach to Christian and pagan authors. Their interest in social history and the collapse of the Roman Republic is driven by an awareness of their sources' contemporary political resonance. Nonetheless, their critical method is strictly historicist and manifests characteristics which modern Renaissance scholars continue to prize as humanist innovations. Trevet's and Waleys's expositions of De civitate Dei bear witness to the range of approaches to antiquity which have recently been emphasised by revisionist scholars of the Renaissance. Their commentaries, however, demonstrate that such approaches did not originate or develop in isolation, and that there were never entirely separate spheres of activity, as scholars of this period navigated across institutional and corporate boundaries. The friars' commentaries and their reception indicate that it is a mistake to draw too sharp a distinction between humanist and more established forms of learning, and testify to the continued vitality of intellectual life in late medieval universities and religious communities.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available