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The Vatican Mythographers (Medieval Philosophy
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The Vatican Mythographers offers the first complete English translation of three important sources of knowledge about the survival of classical mythology from the Carolingian era to the High Middle Ages and beyond. The Latin texts were discovered in manuscripts in the Vatican library and published together in the nineteenth century. The three so-called Vatican Mythographers compiled, analyzed, interpreted, and transmitted a vast collection of myths for use by students, poets, and artists. In terms consonant with Christian purposes, they elucidated the fabulous narratives and underlying themes in the works of Ovid, Virgil, Statius, and other poets of antiquity. In so doing, the Vatican Mythographers provided handbooks that included descriptions of ancient rites and customs, curious etymologies, and, above all, moral allegories. Thus we learn that Bacchus is a naked youth who rides a tiger because drunkenness is never mature, denudes us of possessions, and begets ferocity; or that Ulysses, husband of Penelope, passed by the monstrous Scylla unharmed because a wise man bound to chastity overcomes lust. The extensive collection of myths illustrates how this material was used for moral lessons. To date, the works of the Vatican Mythographers have remained inaccessible to scholars and students without a good working knowledge of Latin. The translation thus fulfills a scholarly void. It is prefaced by an introduction that discusses the purposes of the Vatican Mythographers, the influences on them, and their place in medieval and Renaissance mythography. Of course, it also entertains with a host of stories whose undying appeal captivates, charms, inspires, instructs, and sometimes horrifies us. The book should have wide appeal for a whole range of university courses involving myth.
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About the Author

RONALD E. PEPIN is Professor Emeritus at Capital Community College in Hartford, Connecticut. His books include Scorn for the World: Bernard of Cluny's De Contemptu Mundi and An English Translation of Auctores Octo.

Reviews

First complete English translation of three Latin texts discovered in the 19th century that contain collections of ancient mythology, with commentary, compiled in the Vatican. * -The Chronicle of Higher Education * A precise and readable translation . . . extraordinarily carefully executed. -- -Andrew Galloway * Cornell University * Pepin has given students of the Middle Ages a lucid translation of three important works, especially the valuable Third Mythography. * -Speculum * Fills a real scholarly void . . . a valuable addition to scholarly literature. -- -Frank Coulson * Ohio State University *

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