Wilson, Bradford, ed., Glosae in Iuvenalem (Paris: Librairie Philosophique J. Vrin)
Text name(s): Glosae in Iuvenalis Satiras; Commentary on Juvenal's Satires
Number of pages of primary source text: 108
Dates: 1125 - 1145
- Original language included.
- Treatise - Scientific/Medical
- Treatise - Instruction/Advice
- Commentary / Gloss / Exegesis
- Philosophy - Ethics / Moral Theology
- Education / Universities
- Classics / Humanism
- Science / Technology
William of Conches was a Norman philosopher and theologian active in the mid-twelfth century who ultimately directed his humanistic study of the secular classics (especially Plato) and knowledge of Arabian philosophers toward writings on the empirical sciences. He was a student of Bernard of Chartres, a teacher of John of Salisbury, and served as tutor to Henry Plantagenet. In the Glosae in Iuvenalis Satiras, William appears to view the poetry of Juvenal as a vehicle for moral edification and philosophical instruction, something only possible when the specific allusions in the poems are explained to the reader, this being the widely purported purpose of William’s gloss. The nature of poetry, the subjects of physiology and physics, and the relationship between teacher and student are other topics emphasized in his gloss.
The introductory material consists of three essays spanning seventy-five pages. In the first, Wilson uses the two very different manuscripts which contain the glosses as the basis from which to discuss William’s method of composition and use of source material. Wilson addresses the problem of the function of the commentary in the second essay, arguing that William sought to provide necessary background material on the satires and reveal their hidden meaning so that medieval readers could use them for the purposes of philosophical and moral advancement. In the process, it is asserted, William intended the satires to be seen as relevant to questions of his own day. The third essay examines what is known about the life and writings of William of Conches and discusses the place of the Glosae in Iuvenalem among his other works.