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Editorial Note

Cicero and the Middle Ages


This issue of Convenit is meant to continue in the line of Convenit 5, which was dedicated to Boethius and his influence in the Middle Ages, concentrating now on a second figure, which side by side with Boethius, deserves to be considered as one of the most influential mediators of Ancient thought to the Middle Ages, namely Cicero.  For in Cicero’s works, we find a subtle combination of Platonic and Aristotelian, but also Stoic and other motives, which far from converting him into a merely eclectic thinker, as has been often stated pejoratively, makes him one of the principal sources of inspiration not only for rhetoric, but also for theology, theoretical philosophy, politics and ethics for the Middle Ages and thereby also for our present time. The articles gathered in this volume try to reflect at least some of the aspects of this omnipresence of Cicero:

Thus, Matthias Perkams (Jena), who opens this volume, shows how Peter Abelard read Cicero as a genuinely philosophical author, who allowed him to elaborate his own conception of theology, which was one of the first attempts of giving a clear definition for divine science. The importance of Cicero for theology is followed up by Ángel Escobar (Zaragoza) who analyses the differentiated use that John of Salisbury made of Cicero and his philosophico-theological reflections showing the scope of Cicero’s position, but also its limits for a Christian theology. Alexander Fidora (Frankfurt) focuses on the consequences of Cicero for the medieval theory of the sciences, demonstrating that some important elements in the work of Dominicus Gundissalinus concerning the subordination of the sciences can, in fact, be drawn back to Cicero. The ethical dimension of Cicero’s influence in the 12th Century is highlighted by Óscar de la Cruz Palma (Barcelona) who reconstructs the use of Cicero’s De amicitia and its precise sources in two tractates by Aelredus of Rievaulx and Peter of Blois. Hideki Nakamura (Frankfurt) traces back to Cicero one of the most important concepts of medieval philosophy and theology, namely the so-called rationes necessariae, which he examines in the work of Richard of St.-Victor. Opening the discussion on Cicero’s presence in Catalonia, Jaume Medina (Barcelona) surveys the Ciceronian manuscripts and their readers in the Catalan countries from the 11th to the 14th Century. Pere Villalba (Barcelona) then presents some passages from the Arbor scientiae written by the Catalan philosopher Ramon Llull which are probably influenced by Cicero’s ethics. José Martínez Gázquez and Miguel Hurtado (Barcelona) discuss the reception of Cicero in Marsilio of Padua’s political works, showing how Cicero becomes a regulative instance of Marsilio’s critique of papal authority and its politics. Coming back to the Ciceronian influence in Catalonia, J. Antoni Iglesias i Fonseca (Barcelona) follows up closely the vicissitudes of a Ciceronian manuscript which pertained to Bernat d’Esplugues and which the author has been able to identify recently at El Escorial. Finally, Jordi Pardo Pastor (Barcelona) concludes with an analysis of the circumstances that led to the first Castilian translation of Cicero in the 15th Century, thus presenting one of the lines that can be drawn from the Middle Ages through the Renaissance to the contemporary period.

This issue of Convenit is published by the Departament de Ciències de l’Antiguitat i de l’Edat Mitjana of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and the Sonderforschungsbereich Wissenskultur und gesellschaftlicher Wandel of the J. W. Goethe-Universität Frankfurt. As both institutions have previously edited each one volume of Convenit, namely Convenit 2 and 5, they are most probably already known to the reader. For further information about them, we therefore refer to those issues; however, what is new in this issue, is that both institutions decided to join there specific interests and competence and to work on a common project. Thus, this volume not only tries to connect, in a vertical perspective, Antiquity with the Middle Ages and thereby with our present, but it also wants, in a horizontal perspective, to bring together the different institutions that participate in Convenit.

We thank all the contributors for their cooperation, the Departament de Ciències de l’Antiguitat i de l’Edat Mitjana and the Sonderforschungsbereich Wissenskultur und gesellschaftlicher Wandel for their support, as well as Jean Lauand and the Editora Mandruvá for their offer to organize this monographic issue of Convenit.


Alexander Fidora
Jordi Pardo Pastor
(Frankfurt – Barcelona)