De Officiis - Vol. 1

De Officiis - Vol. 1

De Officiis - Vol. 1

De Officiis - Vol. 1

Synopsis

Modelled on the De Officiis of Cicero, Ambrose of Milan's work sets out his ethical vision for his clergy. This is the first Modern English translation of Ambrose's Latin. The Text and Translation in Volume 1 are supplemented by a detailed Commentary (Vol. 2) that concentrates on Ambrose's debts to Cicero.

Excerpt

Though Ambrose's De officiis has long been recognized as one of the major bequests of Latin patristic literature, its students have laboured under two significant disadvantages: first, the absence of a readable modern English translation of the text, and secondly the lack of a study which locates the treatise meaningfully in its original socio-cultural context. In a modest way, the present work is offered as a corrective to both of these deficiencies.

The Translation is intended to render Ambrose accessible to modern readers, and thus to signal the enduring significance of De officiis as a testament to the synthesis of intellectual influences which characterized late antiquity. Translating Ambrose into modern idiom while remaining faithful to the nuances of his philosophical inheritance is not especially easy, despite the apparent simplicity of his language; too often the results can be stilted or wooden, and thus of limited value in widening Ambrose's potential readership today. The version offered here naturally aspires to be true to the original, and to convey the texture of the classical and biblical registers with which Ambrose is working. It also acknowledges that not all of the author's complex range of semantic evocation can be caught in English (far less in an entirely consistent fund of modern English equivalents), and that one of the hallmarks of his style is the practicality of his tone. Ambrose writes as a preacher, and a certain discursiveness and rhetorical energy are never far away as he presses upon his readers the applications of his ideals or the splendour of their biblical exemplars. These features deserve to be captured to some extent in translation. Sometimes this means that the interpretation is fairly full or idiomatic by the standards of some patristic translations, but I leave it so in the belief that Ambrose's primary concern is to communicate in practical (and sometimes fairly unpolished) terms, and that, for him,

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