Book Reviews -- By: Anonymous
WTJ 37:3 (Spr 75) p. 390
ed. Eugene F. Rice, Jr.: The Prefatory Epistles of Jacques Lefvre d’Etaples and related texts. New York & London: Columbia University Press, 1972. xl, 629. $20.
Today there are signs of an increasing recognition of the importance of Jacques Lefvre d’Etaples, who lived from c. 1460 to 1536, as an academic leader the development of whose thought was influential in the transition from the age of the Renaissance to that of the Reformation. This volume brings together not only Lefvre’s prefatory epistles to his own works and those he wrote for the works of others, but also the prefaces written by other scholars to works of his and the prefaces of all works dedicated to him. This makes a total of 152 items, all given in the original language (mostly Latin, occasionally French). To have these alone between two covers would be highly serviceable; but each piece has careful historical and bibliographical notes prefixed to it, and is followed by annotations on matters in the text that require comment or definition. In addition, there are some hundred pages of bibliography and indices. The result is a major work of detailed scholarship, invaluable to the student of Lefvre, and, to boot, an admirable achievement of the publisher’s art.
Scattered throughout the pages of the volume there are numerous evidences of the almost boundless esteem and veneration in which Lefvre was held by his fellow academics. The blind poet-scholar Pierre Dupont, for example, extolled him with these lines:
Praxiteles sculpsit, cecinit Maro, pinxit Apelles,
Eloquiis Hermes claruit, arte Sinon.
Tu sophiae dominus, tu sancta negotia curas,
Et tua caelorum mens super astra volat.
Religione Numam superas, virtute Catonem;
Sic tua caelestis pectora Christus alit.
And Symphorien Champier, in a dedicatory epistle prefaced to his exegetical treatise on the Hermetica, addressed Lefvre in the following terms: “Eruditissimo atque in omni disciplinarum cognitione consumatissimo, totius item Galliae philosophorum principi Iacobo Fabro Stapulensi…”; and concluded: “Tu enim unus es aetate nostra qui omnium veterum
WTJ 37:3 (Spr 75) p. 391
philosophiam ac religionis Christianae praecepta et leges percalleas”; and again in another place praised him as “vir undecumque doctissimus, dialecticus, philosophus ac mathematicus celeberrimus ac sacrarum litterarum minime ignarus…ingenio subtilis, eloquio disertus, vita et conversatione integerrimus.” Such superlatives were characteristic of that age, but they are not to be dismissed as insubstantial verbiage.
The contents of this volume are in t...
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