Alciato and the Grammarians: The Law and the Humanities in the Parergon Iuris Libri Duodecim *

By Drysdall, Denis L. | Renaissance Quarterly, Autumn 2003 | Go to article overview

Alciato and the Grammarians: The Law and the Humanities in the Parergon Iuris Libri Duodecim *


Drysdall, Denis L., Renaissance Quarterly


Andrea Alciato (1492-1550) is known to modern scholars for his work as a humanist reformer of jurisprudence and as the inventor of the poetic emblem (Fig. 1.). (1) The twelve books of what he called "Asides from the law" are only marginally relevant to the latter insofar as they contain incidental references to a few of the emblems which subsequently appeared in the collection published by Aldus in 1546. They are, however, the direct product of his work in jurisprudence and his approach to that work as a humanist. During preparation for his lectures, as he tells us in his preface, he was continually encountering in legal texts words and expressions, seemingly obscure or misunderstood by predecessors, which could be explained by reference to works outside the usual ambit of legal studies, works on language, literature, and history. He accumulated notes on these occurrences throughout his professional life and they were published in three collections, the last posthumously. The work belongs in the tradition of humanist notebooks which starts with Lorenzo Valla's Elegantiae, (2) and more precisely to the type of selective philological annotations, or "Gellian" commentary, whose model is the Miscellanies of Angelo Poliziano. (3) It also follows in the wake of the legal Annotatianes of Guillaume Bude, the Castigationes of Pio Antonio Bartolini, (4) and Alciato's own early volumes of legal annotations (Annotationes, Paradoxa, Dispunctianes, and Praetermissa), but is distinguished by the author as belonging in the field of "eloquence" rather than jurisprudence. There is some uncertainty in his mind about the work's place in the hierarchy of knowledge, but it may be seen perhaps as another representative of the development of the humanist notebook from the generalist type of Valla and Poliziano to the specialist type devoted to particular disciplines.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

Alciato's enthusiasm for the sort of material he collects in the Parergon iuris is apparent in the first mention of the work in a letter from Bourges in 1529. (5) Not only is this material likely to be welcome to scholars, he observes, but it is a proof of the usefulness and richness of legal studies. He is already talking of"one hundred chapters" and in 1530 of "three books"--there will eventually be 126 chapters in three books in the first collection. (6) However, he decided in 1530 that he should include some material he had left in Italy and publication would have to await his return there, (7) so it seems that he had made many of these notes before he went to Bourges in 1529. He did not return to Italy until 1533, to spend four rather difficult years at his old University of Pavia, where, as he complained to another correspondent, (8) the publication of the Parergon iuris was further delayed because he was much more busy there than in France.

These preoccupations are more likely to be the real reasons for the delays than the conventional ones put forward in the dedicatory letter, where he talks of fears that he may appear to put play before work or mix the frivolous with the serious, though these alleged fears do hint at the relative values generally accorded to the law and the humanities. This dedicatory letter is dated 1 May 1536 and is addressed to Alciato's former pupil at Pavia, Otto Truchsess, (9) who seems to have put some pressure on the author to publish when he would have preferred to wait and include still more of the material he was constantly accumulating, (10) The first volume of Parergon iuris was finally published in 1538, (11) and this, the later books 4 to 10 of 1543 and the posthumous books 11 and 12 (12) (331 chapters in all), are all dedicated to Truchsess, later bishop of Augsburg and a cardinal. The posthumous volumes were edited by Alciato's nephew and literary heir Francesco Alciato, who praises Truchsess for the way he has contained the spread of Protestantism in his diocese--an echo perhaps of Andrea's own leanings towards the empire and the papacy in the later part of his life. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Alciato and the Grammarians: The Law and the Humanities in the Parergon Iuris Libri Duodecim *
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.