A Neo-Latin Reader with selections from Petrarch to Rimbaud. With introductions, notes, sources, references and illustrations. "Neo-Latin" is a rather clumsy designation for Latin written in the Renaissance and later. Latin students are rarely exposed to such writing, which is a pity because there is a whole world of highly worthwhile but often sadly neglected texts positively begging to be explored. Prof. Riley's reader provides a fine introduction to this literature and is bound to open students' eyes to the wealth of material they can investigate, literary, historical and scientific. Some of the writers included in this volume will already be familiar names to them (Petrarch, Erasmus, More, Tycho Brahe, Leeuwenhock, Christopher Columbus). Others (such as the historian Jacques de Thou and the brilliant Cambridge playwright George Ruggle) will doubtless be complete strangers, but they are writers well worth getting to know. Other Neo-Latinists would of course choose their own favorite passages for presentation in a similar volume (I myself, for example, am sorry that passages by Hugo Grotius and Sir Francis Bacon are not included), but Riley's selections are both intelligent and attractive. Some college-level teachers may want to take a break from the normal routine of canonic classical authors and lead their students in an exploration of the rich variety of material contained in this volume. Riley's introductions and commentaries are very useful and he doesn't fall into the trap of pedantic over-explanation. I have only one bone to pick. On p.183, in annotating Ruggle's Ignoramus V.i, when Vince tells Nell that "brachium" means "a horse tool," he does not mean a whore's tool, "since the whores grab the arms of passers-by. Vince is maliciously misleading Nell into believing the word literally means a horse’s tool (i. e. a penis as long as an arm) or perhaps a similar organ as enjoyed by a whore. This is important, because it makes the entire passage more bawdy and emphasizes the fact that it is a parody of Henry V III.iv, with its equally risque use of "coun" (Fr. con) . This is only one of an impressive number of passages in English university drama which depend for their effect on the audience's familiarity with Shakespeare. Highly recommended. Dana Sutton
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Fine selection, good notes.
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