Research Project


Medieval Latin Translations of Works on Astronomy and Astrology, Early Medieval Latin Astrological Prognostica

Dr. David Juste

The University of Sydney, Centre for Medieval Studies
Research stay: October 2010 &ndash; September 2011</p>

During my research stay at the IKGF, I worked mainly on Latin astrological literature and manuscripts, with a particular focus on the following two projects:

1) The 'New Carmody' (in collaboration with Professor Charles Burnett)

This project began during extensive research stays in Munich in 2009, when both Charles Burnett and I were invited to be guests scholars of the LMUexcellentproject 'Wissenstransfer zwischen Orient und Okzident', supervised by Professor Menso Folkerts and Dr Benno van Dalen at the Lehrstuhl für Geschichte der Naturwissenschaften.

The 'New Carmody' is a catalogue of Medieval Latin translations of works on astronomy and astrology, designed fully to replace F.J. Carmody, Arabic Astronomical and Astrological Sciences in Latin Translation. A Critical Bibliography (Berkeley-Los Angeles, 1956), and also supplement it by adding translations from the Greek and Hebrew. The catalogue is arranged by author, for each of whom the following information is provided: (1) a brief bio-bibliography, focusing on his intellectual background and scholarly production in fields besides astronomy/astrology; and (2) a complete list of his astronomical and astrological texts in Latin translation, including, for each: (2a) the title, incipit and explicit (quoted from representative manuscripts); (2b) a brief characterisation of the contents; (2c) an identification of the Arabic, Greek or Hebrew original; (2d) the date, place and circumstances of the translation; (2e) a bibliography; (2f) all available editions, early modern and modern; and (2g) a complete list of manuscripts. The 'New Carmody' will eventually be published both online and in printed form, and it is expected to become a fundamental resource for historians of medieval and early modern science.

During my stay at Erlangen, significant progress was made, particularly in June and July, when Charles Burnett attended the IKGF as a visiting scholar. In its present state (December 2011), the 'New Carmody' includes 64 authors (with a separate section on anonymous texts), hundreds of texts, reference to thousands of manuscripts, and over 100,000 words altogether. Yet, the catalogue is far from complete. Several authors and texts remain to be added and a great deal of information must be checked, corrected and supplemented, especially with respect to the manuscripts (2a, 2b and 2g above).

An introduction to the 'New Carmody' will be published in C. Burnett and D. Juste, 'A New Catalogue of Medieval Translations into Latin of Texts on Astronomy and Astrology', in Agents and Agency in Transmission, Translation, and Transformation, eds. Jamil Ragep, Robert Wisnovsky, and Faith Wallis (forthcoming).

2) A catalogue of Latin astrological manuscripts

This is the first catalogue of Latin astrological manuscripts, a long-term project on which I have been working since 2000. The aim is to describe the Latin astrological manuscripts preserved in the various libraries throughout the world. At present, my database contains over 2,700 manuscripts, half of which have been consulted in situ and fully described. The Catalogue is being published by the IRHT-Institut de Recherche et d'Histoire des Textes, Paris (CNRS Editions), as a new series under the title Catalogus Codicum Astrologorum Latinorum. The first volume, describing 287 manuscripts preserved at the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich, appeared in November 2011, and the second volume, describing over 300 manuscripts held by the Bibliothèque nationale de France in Paris, is scheduled for publication in 2013.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Consortium for partly funding my fieldwork in Vienna (25-29 April 2011) and Paris (August 2011), as well as ordering digital images of astrological manuscripts from Darmstadt, Erfurt, Prague, Munich, Verona, Vienna, and Würzburg. These proved of critical importance for both the 'New Carmody' and the catalogue of astrological manuscripts.

Conferences, Workshops and Lectures

In addition to the above, I gave three talks during my stay at Erlangen:

  • 'Astrology and the Rise of Science in Medieval Europe', Tuesday lecture series, IKGF, 9 November 2010.
  • 'Astral Determinism in the Middle Ages', International Conference 'Fate and Prediction in Chinese and European Traditions. Key Concepts and Organization of Knowledge', IKGF, 28-30 June 2011.
  • 'The Judgement on the Nativity of Joannes Sillyers by Wilhelmus Misocacus (1566)', International Conference 'Astrologers and Their Clients in Medieval and Early Modern Europe', IKGF, 29-30 September 2011.

I also hosted a seminar on Medieval Horoscopes for the staff of the IKGF (three sessions of 2-4 hours each, on 7 December 2010, and 18 January and 1 February 2011).

Finally, I organised (with Wiebke Deimann) the International Conference, 'Astrologers and their Clients in Medieval and Early Modern Europe', which took place at the IKGF on 29-30 September 2011, with 11 speakers from seven countries.

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