Bryn Mawr Classical Review

BMCR 2014.07.10 on the BMCR blog

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2014.07.10

Marianne Pade (ed.), Plutarchi Chaeronensis: Vita Dionis et Comparatio et de Bruto ac Dione iudicium Guarino Veronensi interprete. Il ritorno dei classici nell’umanesimo, 8.   Firenze:  SISMEL - Edizioni del Galluzzo, 2013.  Pp. viii, 160.  ISBN 9788884505132.  €42.00.  

Reviewed by Ioannis Deligiannis, Research Centre for Greek and Latin Literature of the Academy of Athens (

[The Table of Contents is listed at the end of the review.]

M. Pade’s long dedication to the study of the Latin translations of Plutarch’s works and her specialized expertise in them are the key to the production of this model edition of Guarino Guarini’s Latin translation of Plutarch’s Dion and the Comparison of Dion and Brutus. It is also a very pleasant surprise to see that despite all the current difficulties and challenges in humanities book production this particular edition was produced under the auspices of the "Edizione nazionale delle Traduzioni dei testi greci in età umanistica e rinascimentale." The book is not simply an edition – and a fine one – of the above-mentioned texts, but a detailed study of Guarini’s translations of Plutarch, his translation method, his vocabulary, etc., which makes the book a valuable study tool for those working on or interested in Guarini’s texts.

The first part of the book is an overview of Guarini’s translations of Plutarch, following the Italian scholar’s travels from Verona to Constantinople (1403-08) to study Greek, to Florence (1410-14), Venice (1414-19), his patria Verona (1419-29), and finally to Ferrara (1429-60). Besides the titles of the Plutarchan Lives rendered into Latin by Guarini (13 in total) and their chronology, Pade provides information about the cultural, intellectual and political conditions of the time that led Guarini to the selection and translation of specific Lives and other Plutarchan texts. All these are given in a concise, well-structured and documented way, supported by references both to primary sources and up-to-date bibliography.

A special place in the discussion of Guarini’s translations of Plutarch is occupied by his translation of Dion, especially since the text is preserved in Guarini’s presentation copy to Francesco Barbaro (now Oxford, Bodleian Library, ms. Bywater 38). Pade examines Guarini’s dedicatory epistle preceding the translation and the reasons why he translated only Dion and the Comparison of Dion and Brutus, but not the Life of Brutus as well, though all three are found in the manuscript. Of particular significance are the marginal notes on the text in Guarini’s hand (supported also by two photographs of the manuscript),1 which reveal his interest in geographical and historical issues, connections with Plato’s philosophy (especially because of the content of Dion), as well as his stand on the so-called Scipio-Caesar controversy in mid-1430s Italy.

The discussion of the question of Guarini’s Greek exemplar, complex as it may be, needs elaboration; some of the aspects examined here relate to Guarini’s method of translation, a careful and thorough analysis of which occupies a large part of the introduction. This latter section is divided into two parts, the first dedicated to Guarini’s method of translation in general and the second to his version of Dion in particular. In the first part Pade studies issues such as intertextuality (imitatio auctorum), ideological translation (with examples extracted from Guarini’s epistles and translations), and the role of imitation of classical authors such as Suetonius and Cicero. More comprehensive is the examination of Guarini’s practice in his translation of Dion; aspects discussed here include style (immutatio, interpretatio, copia and word order), morphology and syntax, which all contribute to making his translation more accurate and conforming to the classical Latin language and its stylistic standards. Worth noting here, however, is that some of the issues discussed by Pade (such as rendering a Greek term with more than one Latin term or periphrastically, additions or omissions of terms in the original Greek, expansions, etc.) are common to most Humanistic translations of the time, so their attribution exclusively to Guarini’s practice is rather presumptive. Another issue analyzed here is the translation of specific terms like δημοκρατία, μοναρχία, πολιτεία, τυραννίς etc., which are somewhat revealing of Guarini’s political convictions. Intertextuality and ideological translation are also dealt with by Pade in relation to the Latin version of Dion, while her analysis of Guarini’s Latin lexicon, with examples of terms found also in ancient and medieval Latin (animadversor, aspernator, fedifragus, plaustellum etc., and captabilis and vituperium, respectively), highlights the translator’s deep knowledge of the target language. Equally important and indicative of Guarini’s vocabulary is the examination of several neo-Latin terms, with characteristic words such as explosio, prosagogis, tympanizo and tyrocnestis.

The second part of the introduction deals with the edition itself. Pade provides a brief description of the forty manuscripts preserving Guarini’s translations under discussion (pp. 49-71) and their bibliography. As noted above, both texts included in this edition are preserved in the translator’s autograph dedicatory copy (siglum b), which is also the earliest manuscript in the tradition of the texts. Despite this rare occasion, Pade collated another four manuscripts and recorded their variant readings in the critical apparatus of her edition, justifying her choice by stating that "the examination of other textual witnesses does not serve the constitutio textus […], instead it purports to illustrate the development of the text from 1414 until it was first printed by Campano c. 1470" (76). The readings of G. A. Campano’s editio princeps of the texts (as parts of an edition of all forty-eight of Plutarch’s Lives in Latin printed in Rome) are also recorded in the critical apparatus. In the recensio codicum section Pade analyzes the readings of the textual witnesses used for her edition and describes their relations, concluding that the archetypus codex for the four manuscripts examined must have been Guarini’s own copy, slightly different text-wise from his presentation copy to Barbaro. This part of the introduction is completed with a short analysis of the relations of the marginalia found both in b (written by Guarini himself) and two of the other four witnesses, as well as the editorial principles followed by Pade in her edition. Out of the four apparatus that accompany the text of Guarini’s translation (apparatus criticus, marginalium, fontium and graecus), the last is not as informative as one would expect it to be.

Before moving to the edition itself of the text of both translations, a short comment is in order on the normalization of the orthography of certain words, especially since the texts edited are preserved in the translator’s autograph manuscript. Pade writes that “Guarino is almost consistent in writing ti before a vowel. In the very few cases where he does not, I have normalised the orthography. The only exceptions are the word concio, where Guarino always uses ci, which I have respected, and inficior […], a spelling that is found also in ancient Latin" (83-84). So we find changes like pretiosis] preciosis bfo (10.5), pretiosissimamque] prec- b (37.3), negotiorum] negociorum b (17.10), otiosi] ociosi bafoC (32.5), otium] ocium bfo (comp. 1.6). If the editor has accepted e.g. Affricam] Africam fopC in 6.5 without correcting it, it is rather difficult to understand why she thought it necessary to make the above-mentioned alterations, especially as these forms were widely and commonly used in fifteenth-century Italy. If Guarini considered them wrong, it is almost certain that he would have corrected them himself or would not have spelt them so in the first place; after all, he is the one who copied the text in his own hand. The same applies to editorial corrections such as cæpit] cepit b (21.7), cæptum] ceptum b (42.3), præesse] preesse bafC (32.5), sæva] seva bafop (24.9); Pade justifies such corrections on p. 83, while on p. 84 she states that she does not register “simple orthographic variants, as e for æ, -ci- for -ti- or i for y, except when they may alter the meaning (as pene for poenae) or in proper names”.

The edition itself could well be called exemplary. It includes an improved edition (thanks to the readings of b accepted by Pade) of Sabbadini’s edition of Guarini’s prooemium-dedicatory epistle to Barbaro,2 followed by the text of the translations. Although the preservation of the presentation autograph copy could have spared Pade demanding editorial and critical work, her prowess in facing the challenges and the limitations imposed on editors exactly by just such a preservation is more than evident. The most notable of her interventions to or corrections of the text appears in 30.9, where she rearranged Guarini’s phrasing: sat erat, per clipeum quoque] ego : θώραξ ἤρκεσε, διὰ τῆς ἀσπίδος Plut. : per clipeum quoque sat erat bafopC; cf. also 24.7 quod] δὲ προσκλύζουσα πρὸς τὴν ἀκρόπολιν θάλασσα Plut. : quidem bafoC, and 18.7 esse] esse ego : esset bafopC. For these cases perhaps the use of lege, legendum, exspectaretur or something similar, followed by the correct reading, would have been preferable, instead of altering the reading of the autograph.3 The text of the translations follows the chapter and paragraph numbering of the original Greek, while Pade provides the folia numbers of b as well. The apparatus criticus serves the editor’s purpose well and gives a clear idea of the development of the text – not always for its improvement – from its production/creation to the first printed version of it.

The book concludes with four indices as indicated in the table of contents below. A selective reading and checking of entries of the indices was sufficient for me to confirm their comprehensiveness and accuracy.

Despite the minor shortcomings recorded above, Pade has unquestionably produced a very sound and careful edition. It is a work of estimable scholarship and as such will be valued by all those who study, work on or are simply interested in Humanistic Latin translations, and particularly those of Plutarch.

Table of Contents

3 1. Guarino Veronese translator of Plutarch
3 1.1. The early translations
9 1.2. Guarino in Venice and his translation of Plutarch’s Dion
13 1.3. Guarino’s later translations from Plutarch
15 1.4. Guarino’s Greek exemplar
17 2. Guarino’s method of translation
17 2.1. Intertextuality: imitatio auctorum
20 2.2. Ideological translation
23 2.3. The Dion
23 2.3.1. Style, morphology and syntax
28 2.3.2. Translation of specific terms
30 2.3.3. Ideological translation
31 2.3.4. Intertextuality: imitatio auctorum
33 2.4. Guarino’s Latin lexicon
34 2.4.1. Ancient Latin
39 2.4.2. Medieval Latin
40 2.4.3. Neo-Latin
42 2.5. Guarino’s corrections of Angeli’s Brutus
Notes on the Text
47 1. The manuscript tradition
49 1.1. List of manuscripts
72 1.2. The editio princeps
76 2. Recensio codicum
76 2.1. Relation of the textual witnesses
81 2.2. Relation of marginal glosses
83 3. The edition
83 3.1. Principles of edition
87 Conspectus siglorum
Vita Dionis Ex Plutarcho Per Guarinum Veronensem Traducta
91 Ad virum clarum Franciscum Barbarum Venetum suum prooemium in Dionem ex Plutarcho
93 Vita Dionis
128 Comparatio et diligens de Bruto ac Dione iudicium Plutarchi
133 Bibliography
147 Index verborum
149 Index locorum
153 Index manuscriptorum
157 Index nominum


1.   There are two more photographs of the manuscript in the book; the first shows Guarini’s corrections of the text of Brutus translated by Iacopo Angeli da Scarperia, and the second the section numbers found in the Comparison of Dion and Brutus.
2.   Sabbadini, R., Epistolario di Guarino Veronese, I-III (Miscellanea di Storia Veneta, 8, 11, 14), Venice, 1915-19.
3.   Cf. also 25.14 Synalus] Synalos bafo : Sinalus p; the Hellenized ending -os instead of the Latin -us could easily stand in Guarini’s text, though he appears consistent in using the latter. Corrigenda: (2.5) morbumue; unless it is a typographical mistake, the connection of ue with the preceding word contradicts the editorial principle (p. 84) according to which “Enclitic que and ne are always written in one with the preceding word and enclitic ue always separated from it”; prooem. 1: conscriptumperpendis should become conscriptum perpendis; 47.4: G. etiam sigla ὡραῖον et σημαίωσαι …, apparently for σημείωσαι; 52.4 qui] qui] quid a . I refrain from listing several typographical errors in the introduction, which should be attributed to the press.

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