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What is the Entheticus?

  • Rodney Thomson (a1)


John of Salisbury’s Entheticus de Dogmate Philosophorum (the so-called ‘longer Entheticus’) is a philosophical and satirical poem of 1,850 lines, in Latin elegiac couplets. It is the most enigmatic of John’s major works, and the least well understood. It has never attracted much attention, and such judgements as have been passed upon it have been, on the whole, cursory and dismissive. Yet the work must be closely scrutinized, if only that the evolution of John’s thought may be better understood. I hope to make a modest beginning in this enterprise by using the techniques of palaeography and textual criticism to throw light on the genesis and purpose of the Entheticus, and on its connection with the Policraticus and Metalogicon.



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1 1,852 lines in Pepin’s edition (see below, n 3), but his lines 97-8 should be in his apparatus, for John intended them to be replaced by Pepin’s lines 91-6. For the reader’s convenience, however, 1 use Pepin’s numbering throughout this article.

2 For instance, Wright, F. and Sinclair, T., A History of Later Latin Literature (New York 1931) p 232 ; Webb, C. C. J. John of Salisbury (London 1932) pp 99101 ; [Millor, W.J., Butler, H. E. and Brooke, C. N. L.], [The] Letters [of John of Salisbury], 1 (London 1955) p xlix ; Raby, F. J. E., A History of Secular Latin Poetry in the Middle Ages 2 vols (2 ed Oxford 1957) 2, pp 914 . Even the meaning of the title Entheticus has remained a mystery. The epilogue to Alexander Nequam’s De Laudibus Divinae Sapientiae, which takes the form of an envoi, is given this title in the fifteenth-century MS BL Roy. 8 E. ix, fol. 87v, outer margin (‘Incipit hie entheticus autoris’).

3 The editions are (1) C. Petersen, lohannis Saresberiensis Entheticus de Dogmate Philosophorum (Hamburg 1843), using a transcript of L and a seventeenth-century copy of it, now Berlin, Staatsbibliothek, Hamburg Cod. Phil. 350: (2) Elrington, [C. R.], [‘John of Salisbury’s Entheticus de Dogmate Philosophorum; the Light it throws on the educational Background of the Twelfth Century’ (M. A. University of London 1954)], using all the MSS, with a lengthy, though now rather dated prefatory essay, translation and useful index of proper names with their sources where identifiable;. (3) [D.] Sheerin, [‘John of Salisbury’s Entheticus de Dogmate Philosophorum; Critical Text and Introduction’ (Ph.D. University of North Carolina Chapel Hill 1969)], using all the MSS and Elrington’s thesis, providing a very sound text and discussion of its date and relationship to John’s other works; (4) Pepin, [R.], [‘The Entheticus of John of Salisbury; a Critical Text’, Traditio 31 (New York 1975) pp 127193], using L and C; unfortunately the editor did not know of Elrington’s or Sheerin’s editions, his discussion of the MSS is confused and his text inaccurate; on the other hand he provides a useful number of loci citati. I have adopted his sigla for the MSS.

4 Warner, G. F. and Gilson, J. P., Catalogue of Western MSS in the Old Royal and King’s Collections in the British Museum (London 1921) 2, pp 10910; 4, pl 80.

5 Two other MSS with thirteenth-century ex libris inscriptions incorporating Abbot Simon’s ex dono must, on the evidence of their script and decoration, be dated earlier than his abbacy: Stonyhurst College 7 and El Escorial P. i.5. See now Thomson, R. M., Manuscripts from St. Alban’s Abbey, 1066-1235 (Woodbridge 1982) 1, pp 4862.

6 Ker, N. R., English MSS in the Century after the Norman Conquest (Oxford 1960) p 38 and pl 13b.

7 In a handwritten description of the MS in the writer’s possession. Sheerin, too, who discusses the matter very thoroughly, finally suggests a date ‘perhaps closer to 1167’ (Sheerin p 66).

8 Cahn, W., ‘St. Albans and the Channel Style in England’ in The Year 1200 (New York Metropolitan Museum of Art 1970) pp 1889.

9 Its ‘frog-spawn’ motif occurs in minor initials in St. Albans books cl 140-1160, and its much debased acanthus-leaf patterning recalls initials in the Hildesheim (Albani) Psalter and related books, made at the abbey c1120-1140.

10 The errors are: 112 uiuens for iuuenis (corrected by the annotator); 207 chonchis for Conchis; 761 animalis omitted (corrected by the annotator); 995 Scinthia for Cynthia; 998 facit (or fauet; 1120 Eudimion for Endymion; 1129 Silena for Selene; 1139 Antitenes for Antisthenes; 1159 Grecis omitted (corrected by the annotator); 1260 discendique for dicendique; 1263 autor for auctor (corrected by the annotator); 1445 abortis for obortis; 1501 chachetes for cacoethes (mere orthography?); 1552 contolor for concolor, 1648 cetussem for centussem; 1746 sardana pallus (hyphenated by the annotator).

11 So Elrington, p 138. If the addition were indeed lifted from a written exemplar, then of course it would not necessarily have any relevance for the date of L.

12 Catalogue of MSS in the University Library at Cambridge (Cambridge 1858f.) 3; Letters 1, pp lviii-lxi.

13 Sheerin, pp 90-7; Pepin, p 132 (very confused). Moreover, although most of L’s subtitles and marginal and interlinear additions are in C’s text, some have been the contrary, they were surely omitted, by C’s very careless and illiterate scribe, because they were in L’s margins in a very tiny hand. We would conclude from this that if C was not derived from L, then it was derived from a MS physically identical to L. Secondly, some of C’s mistakes can be explained by L’s orthography: for instance 959 simetra L, simetra C; 1313 tirranni L, tutanni C; 1746 sardana-pallus L (the hyphen inserted by the annotator), sardana pallus C. Finally L’s incipit reads ‘Incipit enteticus eiusdem de dogmate philosophorum’ and this too is reproduced in C. The carelessness of C’s scribe is demonstrated in Letters 1, p lxi.

14 No collation has been done, but it is possible, for instance, that the texts of the Policraticus and Metalogicon in C do not derive from those in L at all.

15 Catalogue of MSS in the University Library at Cambridge, 4.

16 Leland, y, Collectanea de Rebus Britannicis (ed Hearne, T.: London 1774) 2, pp 2334 and 3, p 17 , and De Scriptoribus Britannicis (ed A. Hall; Oxford 1709) p 211.

17 The extract is lines 1667-1682. At 1669 Nam with L (Cum C); 1671 Dispensanda (Dispesanda C); 1677 Eumolpis (Eumpolis C). But Leland was capable of correcting the second and third of these himself.

18 Was it L itself, which he certainly acquired from somewhere for the Royal library? St. Albans MSS tended to stray into College libraries (for instance Oxford, New College 274) in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, but generally Oxford ones. L was in the possession of Richard de Bury for a time, but was restored to the abbey after his death. There is no evidence that it left the abbey again before its dissolution.

19 James, [M. R.], The Ancient Libraries of Canterbury and Dover [(Cambridge 1902)] pp 6 and 12.

20 Part of fol. 213v, showing marginalia, is reproduced in Brooke, C. N. L., The Twelfth-Century Renaissance (London 1969) p 59 pl 39 . It was Professor Brooke who, in 1979, suggested that I ought to examine these marginalia more closely.

21 Pepin, p 145, note to line 276, though I am not entirely certain whether this was the work of the scribe or an annotator. At line 1014 Pepin reads succendens in L, but the first n has been cancelled with sublinear points, apparently by the scribe. Otherwise he seems to have corrected over erasure.

22 For instance Oxford, Bodleian Library Finch e 25 or Cambridge, St. John’s College 183.

23 Fols. 212, 217, 217. Pepin lines 385-92, 1369-74, 1523-30. Pepin does not distinguish these from the other additions (see below).

24 But the seven words of the addition to the explicit are not much to go on, and I would not wish to press this too hard.

25 The only exceptions are lines 761 and 1159, where outright omissions have been rectified.

26 Elrington, p 141; Pepin, p 129 n 9.

27 Elrington did not comment on them, but adopted them in his text; so did Sheerin, who suggested that they resulted from collation with another MS; Pepin makes no comment on them, transferring some to his text and leaving others in his apparatus.

28 Some of the additions in the margins of L have been transferred to the text by a much later hand which does not concern us here.

29 Lines 1-10. I slightly modify Elrington’s translation.

30 Compare lines 1291-1300, 1636-52, 1667-82.

31 For instance lines 195-200 seq, 265-70 seq, 283-5 seq, 469-72 seq.

32 Lines 1291-1300.

33 Elrington, p 95; Sheerin, p 32.

34 Lines 1355-62, 1435-62; and see the other arguments of Elrington, pp 79-84.

35 So Elrington, p 84.

36 Constable, G., ‘The Alleged Disgrace of John of Salisbury’, EHR, 69 (1954) pp 6776.

37 Between c1148 and 1159, for instance, he made about a dozen trips to Italy; Metalogicon, iii, prologus, p 117; Letters 1, pp xii-xxxviii; Saltman, A., Archbishop Theobald of Canterbury (London 1956) pp 1725.

38 Cambridge, Corpus Christi College 46, Becket’s MS, was another copy of it: see Linder, A., ‘The Knowledge of John of Salisbury in the later Middle Ages’, Studi Medievali, 3rd ser., 18 (Spoleto 1977) pp 31920.

39 Paris, [Matthew, Gesta Abbatum Sancli Albani, ed W.] Wats, [(London 1639)) pp 5960 ; Thomas Walsingham, Gesta Abbatum Sancti Albani, (ed H. T. Riley: RS 1867), 1, pp 184-8.

40 Wats, pp 59-60. John and Abbot Simon witnessed a charter of Eynsham Abbey at Oxford between 1171 and 1173; Cartulary of Oseney Abbey (ed H. E. Salter: OHS 89-91, 97-8, 101 [1929-361) 4, pp 912-3 no 83; Eynsham Cartulary (ed Salter: OHS 49, 51 [1907-8]) 1, p 63; John also acted as papal judge-delegate in 1174 in the dispute between the abbey and the monks of Durham over Tynemouth priory; Brooke, C. N. L., The Letters of John of Salisbury 2 (Oxford 1979) p xlvi n 2.

41 Wats, pp 59, 61.

42 PL, 196, 1227-30.

43 Hunt1, [R. W.], [‘The Library of the Abbey of St. Albans’ in Medieval Scribes, Manuscripts and Libraries; Essays presented to N. R. Ker (ed Parkes, M. B. and Watson, A. G.: London 1978)] pp 2534.

44 James, The Ancient Libraries of Canterbury and Dover pp 82-5.

45 For instance lines 55, 59, 382 and 508, not counting wrong metre created by obvious errors of the original scribe.

46 See above pp 291-2 and n 19.

47 For instance Oxford, Bodleian Library Laud. lat. 67, another St. Albans book; Hunt, pp 265-6. For a slightly later English example of a ‘scholastic’ hand see Oxford, Bodleian Library Savile 21, dated 1215, in Thompson, S. H., Latin Book-Hands of the Later Middle Ages (Cambridge 1969) pl 89 . On the informal hands used in the later twelfth century for small books and for marginal glosses see now Brown, T. J. in Herrad of Hohenbourg, Hortus Deliciarum (ed Green, R., Evans, M. and others; Studies of the Warburg Institute 36, London and Leiden 1979) 1, pp 815.

48 I find only one outright scribal slip: 1696 fradet for fraudet.

49 The main improvements are metrical (see above p 298 n 45). There are three corrections by this hand to the original text: 112 iuuenis for uiuens; 761 animalis omitted by the original scribe; 1159 Greets the same.

50 Line 498, where iure placere patri was interlined above promeruisse patrem, then cancelled.

51 An alternative hypothesis would be that the quire with the Entheticus was John’s own ‘clean copy’, which he gradually revised, presenting it to St. Albans before he left for Chartres. But there are a number of points against this, the most decisive being the ‘eiusdem’ of the incipit, which indicates that this quire was designed for L ab initio.

52 Elrington, pp 95-9; Sheerin, pp 33-52.

53 Lines 823-76 (Aristotle), 937-1118 (Plato). On early twelfth-century Platonism see R. W. Southern, Platonism, Scholastic Method and the School of Chartres (Reading 1979). Like Southern, I do not wish to associate early twelfth-century Platonism with the ‘school’ at Chartres, or, consequently, to call it ‘Chartrian’.

54 On which see Wetherbee, W., Platonism and Poetry in the Twelfth Century (Princeton 1972); Stock, B., Myth and Science in the Twelfth Century (Princeton 1972); Bernardi Silvestris Cosmographia (ed P. Dronke: Leiden 1978) pp 1-28. I note two other concepts characteristic of early twelfth-century Platonism in the Entheticus. One is that of integumentum or involucrum at lines 177-201; cfJeauneau, E., ‘L’usage de la notion d’integumentum a travers les gloses de Guillaume de Conches’ in his Lectio Philosophorum (Amsterdam 1973) pp 12792 . The other is the marriage of Philology and Mercury at lines 213-46; Wetherbee, pp 26-7.

What is the Entheticus?

  • Rodney Thomson (a1)


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