Union Académique Internationale

Aristoteles Latinus (Corpus Philosophorum Medii Aevi)

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Project nº9/2, adopted in 1929

The Aristoteles Latinus project aims at publishing critical editions of all medieval Greek-Latin translations of Aristotle. The UAI adopted this international project in 1930 on the proposal of Konstanty Michalski of the Academy of Cracow and has since then supported and supervised it. Since 1973, the Secretariat of the project is housed at the De Wulf-Mansion Centre for Ancient, Medieval, and Renaissance philosophy (Institute of Philosophy, KU Leuven).

The entrance of Aristotle in the West through translations had a revolutionary impact on the cultural life in the Middle Ages since the 13th century, in particular on the teaching at the universities. The access to the complete corpus of Aristotle’s work opened for scholars a comprehensive system of sciences based on experience and reason. In their disputations, treatises, commentaries, they all refer to the arguments of the Philosopher. For a full understanding of the development of medieval philosophy and theology, it is essential to know the various translations in which Aristotle’s texts have been transmitted. These translations cover a period of almost 800 years, starting with the translations by Boethius (ca. 480 – 524/5 AD), and ending with the Translatio Durandi of the Oeconomica in 1295. The role played by these translations in the development of Western philosophical and scientific terminology can hardly be overestimated.

Since the middle of last century thirty volumes have already been published in the series supported by the UAI; they include the entire corpus of Aristotle's logical works, all the medieval Greek-Latin translations of the Metaphysics, the Meteorology and the Nicomachean Ethics, and several versions of the physical and zoological works of the Aristotelian corpus. Focus has recently shifted towards the pseudo-Aristotelian treatises, which are a largely unexplored area, such as the Physiognomonica (published in 2019). Moreover, since 2016 all medieval Greek-Latin translations of Aristotle (and some of his ancient commentators) are accessible through the Aristoteles Latinus Database published by Brepols.

The Aristoteles Latinus collection meets the highest standards of a critical edition. The primary objective is to offer a critical text of the Latin translation in its original form (and in its standard version as read at the universities). This is often a complex and time-devouring task given the large number of manuscripts of some treatises such as the Physics. The editor also examines how the Latin translation is related to the Greek tradition of the text. In many cases, the medieval translation is based on a Greek text older than the now extant Greek manuscripts or represents another branch of the text transmission, and thus may contribute to the establishment of the Greek text. The text edition is justified in a twofold critical apparatus, one offering the textual variants within the Latin tradition, another situating the Latin in relation to the Greek tradition. Of great scholarly impact are the exhaustive Greek-Latin and Latin-Greek indices, which conclude each volume. An international board is responsible for accepting and evaluating the editions. It is at present composed as follows: Lisa Devriese (Director, KULeuven), Carlos Steel (President of the Board, KU Leuven), Guy Guldentops (Thomas Institut, Köln), Sten Ebbesen (København), Adriano Oliva (Commissio Leonina, Paris), Aafke van Oppenraay (Huygens Institute KNAW), Marwan Rashed (Université Sorbonne, Paris), Loris Sturlese (Lecce), Cecilia Trifogli (All Souls College, Oxford), Gerd Van Riel (KU Leuven), Olga Weijers (Huygens Institute KNAW).

The Aristoteles Latinus project is only possible through international collaboration. This international character is evident in the different academic affiliations of the editors (Belgium, France, Great Britain, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland), in the composition of the board and in the intensive collaboration with other similar research projects supported by the UAI, Averroes Latinus (project of the Academy of Reinland-Westfalen), Aristoteles Semitico-Latinus (Leiden, Project of the Dutch Royal Academy).