Bryn Mawr Classical Review

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2003.02.18

A. B. Scott (ed.), Hildebertus: Carmina Minora. Editio altera.   Munich:  K.G. Saur, 2001.  Pp. xxxvi, 112.  ISBN 3-598-71984-1.  EUR 58.00/$60.50.  

Reviewed by Bridget K. Balint, Indiana University (
Word count: 1515 words

It is somewhat disorienting to find that all the alterations made for this long-awaited editio altera are relegated to an appendix, and that pages V through 76 merely reproduce the first edition. Perhaps the cost of book production necessitate such an arrangement, but the price of Teubner volumes leads one to expect a more harmonious product. In any case, the 36 additional pages make a few apt corrections to the text of the poems and provide useful information that was absent from the first edition. The appended new material includes a praefatio ad editionem alteram (77-79), a full listing of manuscripts containing poems by Hildebert (80-104), addenda et corrigenda (105-108), a page of fontibus addenda (109), and additional bibliography (110-112).

Hildebert of Lavardin (1056-1133), bishop of Le Mans and later archbishop of Tours, was an early bright light in the literary renaissance of the greater twelfth century. His poems, sermons and letters were widely copied and imitated. When his works were first printed in 1708, a combination of editorial carelessness and reverence for the Venerable Hildebert resulted in a tangled mass of incorrect attributions. Scott (S.), in what is properly called the first edition (1969), continued the work begun by Hauréau and Wilmart1 of paring away the overgrowth of brief poems falsely attribued to Hildebert. S. based his canon of Hildebert's shorter poems on the uninterrupted series of poems found in two families of manuscripts, generally admitting poems found in both families or in one or the other; he also included a few poems that are not well represented in the mss. but that he otherwise reasoned to be Hildebert's, e.g., lines attributed to Hildebert by his contemporary Ordericus Vitalis. S. argued that the two ms. families represent two recensions of the poems, both from the hand of Hildebert, the later corrected and improved; in the second edition he maintains this view, although it has been subject to criticism.

The new praefatio leaves a number of questions unanswered. Although S. asserts that he will here respond to his critics, he neglects to answer any of the astute observations and objections made by Orlandi2 in what was in effect an article-length review of the first edition. With respect to the supposed double recension, two critics of the first edition made claims in opposition to one another: Öberg3 argued that S.'s earlier recension, too careless to be the poet's own, was the work of a later "corrector," while Orlandi asserted that S.'s earlier recension was, in fact, more polished than the later one, and clearly was Hildebert's work. Addressing only one passage adduced by Öberg, in which the earlier recension transmits an "illas" in carmen (c.) 22 l.81 without a referent, S. admits that someone has changed Hildebert's text inepte, but this single clear instance of tampering is not sufficient to overturn the two recensions S. had established. It is to be regretted that S. does not here address Orlandi's very different view of this particular passage. S.'s main argument for retaining the relative dating of his two recensions seems to be that if the chronology were reversed, the authenticity of even more poems would be cast into doubt. Certainly this would be an unfortunate circumstance, but it does not justify his apparent reluctance to reconsider his position. S. does, however, admit that the question of recensions has not been settled with any certainty. S. additionally defends his adherence to manuscript authority in admitting or excluding poems from the canon instead of attempting to make such decisions based on stylistic criteria. Although it is probable that his method has excluded some genuine poems, it would be very difficult to establish poetic criteria that would take into account the widely divergent styles of such poems as the classicizing Rome Elegies and the rhythmic, rhymed "De Sancta Trinitate," while excluding poems written by Hildebert's many imitators. S. hints that computerized text-analysis techniques might be well employed on such a project -- which, if they were sophisticated enough to identify simple, sub-stylistic linguistic traits that are characteristic of Hildebert's authentic poems, would be very welcome indeed.

The valuable Codices section follows, in which S. lists all the known mss. that contain any poems by Hildebert, with an enumeration of the poems and any other works by Hildebert that each contains. This information on more than 300 mss. may itself be worth the price of the book to some readers.

The addenda et corrigenda contain the critical meat of the second edition. Most of the addenda provide fuller or more current bibliographical information for works cited in the original introduction or for authors cited in the apparatus. S. notes a few typographical corrections, and latinizes some English and French place names where necessary, e.g., he corrects 'Baldericus de Bourgueil' to 'Baledericus Burgulianus,' 'Halle' to 'Halis.' In this section S. takes further note of several criticisms directed at the first edition, silently making many of the requested changes, while acknowledging four, and accepting two noteworthy suggestions made by Orlandi, and once rejecting an emendation proposed by Öberg. Material changes to the text of the poems are seven in number:

1) Orlandi's observation of an error in prosody in c. 13 leads S. to reconsider its inclusion and that of its neighbor in the mss., c. 12; thus, our small Hildebertian canon is probably now even further reduced.

2) At c. 27 l. 6 S. emends the mss. reading 'matre' to 'patre,' so that the the virgin Bona announces in her epitaph "virtutem subolem patre pudore tuli." The line now begins a typically elegant Hildebertian play on the doctrine of the virgin birth, which continues in the next two lines.

3) At c. 35 l. 9 S. accepts the reading 'virga' of mss. DC over 'virgo' in the phrase "non virga pudorem prestitit", again assisting the sense, as the Queen Mathilda is praised for her inborn virtues that required no teaching (doctrina) or compulsion (virga) to develop.

4) In the second Rome Elegy, c. 38 l. 12, S. accepts Hauréau's earlier emendation of the mss. 'cunctis' to 'cinctis,' which, as he explains, provides a more fitting contrast between the armed Romans ('cinctis ducibus') and the unarmed Christians ('vulgus inerme') who also appear in the line.

5) At c. 39 III l. 7 S. accepts Orlandi's suggestion that the line is an interpolation.

6) At c. 49 l. 9 S. prefers ms. Z's 'consuluisti' to 'condoluisti' as an action more in keeping with the bishop's role "medici vice," as suggested by Orlandi, although S. does not name him here.

7) Finally, S. adds one additional poem, an epitaph of 10 lines, to the five dubia that comprised the Supplementum section in the first edition.

Clearly, there is ample justification for each of these changes to the first edition. Considering the amount of space devoted to bibliographical updating (for example, six of the addenda carefully note the new numbering of poems in the latest edition of the works of Baudri) I would have expected more attention to be paid to questions that were raised about the text itself, for instance, in a case where S. has preferred the reading of his earlier recension to a lectio difficilior that appears in his later one. For example, c.5 "Unde malum" l.3-4 reads

cum radix vitio careat vitium tamen ex se
et per se citius dulcia poma trahunt.

All but one ms. of the supposedly later and improved recension have 'mater' for 'radix': not a substitution that would likely be made by a later "corrector" of the text! Whence 'mater' and why choose 'radix'? This question was raised by Orlandi as well, but S. does not address it.

The subsequent fontibus addenda adduces some additional parallels in Ovid, Lucan, Boethius, Vergil, Prudentius, and Juvenal, with the result that c. 22, the well-known "De casu huius mundi," appears rather more Vergilian than it did before, and the first Rome Elegy "Par tibi Roma nihil" acquires a further gloss of classicism.

The last three pages list recent editions of works cited in the original bibliography, the reviews of the first edition, and a small crop of recent writings on Hildebert.

Even in an editio altera, errors can sneak in. A few small ones I noted include "rexcensionem" p. 78 l. 15; a difficulty with single quotes on p. 106 (aut'lustra decem' for aut 'lustra decem'); and on p. 107, where the addendum to p. 40 carm. 50 actually refers to line 3 of that poem, not line 2.

In sum, the additions and changes made to the first edition are generally necessary and useful. A number of questions raised about the first edition, however, remain unanswered here. Further, exiling the modifications to an appendix makes for a text that is difficult to use: the reader must ceaselessly flip back and forth, or pencil in the changes herself. Rather than merely binding in what is, in effect, a large addendum slip, the publishers would have done better to make the changes in the text as needed, leaving the very useful manuscript census to stand as the addendum to a somewhat improved edition.


1.   B. Hauréau, Les mélanges poétiques d'Hildebert de Lavardin. Paris, 1882. Wilmart, A. "Le florilège de Saint-Gatien. Contribution à l'étude des poèmes d'Hildebert et de Marbode," Revue Bénédictine 48 (1936) 3-40, 147-181, 235-258.
2.   G. Orlandi, "Doppia redazione nei 'Carmina Minora' di Ildeberto?' Studi Medievali 15 (1974) 1019-1049.
3.   J. Öberg, Cahiers de civilisation médiévale 14 (1971) 393-396.

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