Reading Medieval Scientific Texts

Latin after CDLXXVI
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Wilbur
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Reading Medieval Scientific Texts

Post by Wilbur »

Being a trained scientist and coming back to Latin after retirement, I would like to try my hand at some Medieval scientific texts. I have downloaded copies of Galileo, Newton, Kepler, Brahe, etc. As expected, these texts have no commentary, vocabulary, comparison of Medieval Latin (ML) to Classical Latin, etc. No help whatsoever. I do not intend to read the entire texts, but to pull out interesting sections to read.

Here is my Latin background: Over about the last six years of being a Latin self-learner, I've read through Familia Romana three times, and Roma Aeterna's prose of the Aeneid and the Livy sections on history twice, about a third of the book. I've read the first four books of Caesar, and a few of Ovid's poems. I am currently halfway through Ad Alpes. For ML, I've read all of "The Other Middle Ages" by Kitchell (great fun!) and some of "The Latin of Science" (pretty good stuff).

I have Beeson's "A Primer of Medieval Latin" and "Medieval Latin" 2nd ed by Harrington/Pucci. There is too much material for me to look through and find suitable starting material, which would be helpful to build skills around ML.

In "The Latin of Science" the author suggests which authors are easier than others. But I haven't found such guidance in Beeson or Harrington. So, I am looking for guidance as to which texts (or authors) in these two books would be the easiest to start with. I just don't to start on page 1 of these hoping to come upon texts that will gently move me along, without major frustrations. On the other hand, maybe that's the only way to go.

I would be appreciative of any advice or guidance to get started.
W

Shenoute
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Re: Reading Medieval Scientific Texts

Post by Shenoute »

But I haven't found such guidance in Beeson or Harrington. So, I am looking for guidance as to which texts (or authors) in these two books would be the easiest to start with.
Leaving aside the question of whether Medieval Latin is the best preparation for reading non-Medieval scientific texts by Galileo and the like, Beeson actually says in the preface that his Primer starts with 40(?) easy readings, followed then by selections in chronological order, regardless of their difficulty.

Wilbur
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Re: Reading Medieval Scientific Texts

Post by Wilbur »

Thanks, Shenoute. Somehow I missed that bit of information. That gives me a starting point.

Shenoute
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Re: Reading Medieval Scientific Texts

Post by Shenoute »

Glad I could help, Wilbur!

Let us know how your reading goes.

Hylander
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Re: Reading Medieval Scientific Texts

Post by Hylander »

Shenoute is correct in writing that medieval Latin may not be the best preparation for reading the scientists you mentioned, who wrote during the scientific revolution of the 16th-17th centuries. These post-medieval scientists were schooled in classical Latin and wrote it more or less fluently, though they would naturally have created and used some technical vocabulary necessary to deal with their subject-matter.
Bill Walderman

Wilbur
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Re: Reading Medieval Scientific Texts

Post by Wilbur »

Hylander,
Thank you for that information. That'll give me a bit more confidence.

I've decided to try Galileo first as I anticipate a less dense, technical description than other authors. Plus, his observations of Jupiter's moons were quite a surprise at the time. I've also decided to make a running vocabulary of new words/technical terms as I come across them. These should be useful when I attack other authors. And as suggested by Shenoute, I will post my experiences when I get further along.

I also apologize for the delayed response; sometimes life puts other priorities in front of avocations!
Wilbur

Hylander
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Re: Reading Medieval Scientific Texts

Post by Hylander »

Long ago, when I was a Classics undergraduate, I had a part-time job helping an astronomer who was also a historian of astronomy, translate Kepler's Astronomia Nova. It was tough.
Bill Walderman

Wilbur
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Re: Reading Medieval Scientific Texts

Post by Wilbur »

Hylander,

Thanks for the warning...Astronomia Nova was on my list to try!

Was your historian Owen Gingerich by any chance? I have his book, which he autographed for me, called "The Book Nobody Read." It's about Copernicus' De Revolutionibus.

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