Astronomical Conversations: Ninth-Century Commentaries on the 'Astronomia' of Martianus Capella

  • Eastwood, Bruce (PI)

Grants and Contracts Details


Objectives. In the Carolingian Renaissance of the ninth century, what brought the science of astronomy to a maturity sufficient to provide conceptual foundations that lasted for the next 350 years? Why was the astronomia of Martianus Capella chosen as the textbook for elaboration in pursuit of the conceptual inquiries and clarifications, both verbal and diagrammatic, that appeared? What needs did ninth-century scholars identify for the developing study of astronomy in commentaries on this text? In answering these questions, the project will locate the study of Capella's astronomy in the context of the Carolingian revival of ancient Roman texts, including Capella's, for studying the liberal art of astronomy. The project will then set forth the manuscript evidence for "conversations" among the scholars who produced a remarkable body of graphic and verbal discussion of so many points in the text of the astronomia. The revival of texts on astronomy and cosmology from the Roman Empire by Carolingian scholars initiated a new stage in scientific awareness, advancing well beyond the focus of the previous three centuries upon time-keeping and the construction of calendars. For the study of astronomy, only the work of Martianus Capella received extensive glossing and comments during the ninth century, though other ancient texts offered relevant material. The commentaries appear in a set of manuscripts stretching from the 830s to the end of the century. Identifying and editing the most important of these commentaries, the Anonymous, then studying the interactions among many commentaries, will show how Carolingians conceived of astronomy and its significance. The Carolingian achievement laid the foundation for teaching astronomy for another three hundred years.
Effective start/end date8/1/047/31/06


Explore the research topics touched on by this project. These labels are generated based on the underlying awards/grants. Together they form a unique fingerprint.