Gloss and Commentary

Rita Copeland

in The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Latin Literature

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780195394016
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Gloss and Commentary

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  • Classical Studies
  • Classical Reception
  • Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)


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Medieval thought leaves some of its richest records in glosses and commentaries on authoritative texts. To know how medieval thinkers viewed their treasured inheritance of ancient philosophy and literature, or how they imbued their students with a love for the liberal arts, or how they studied sacred Scripture, the best access is often through their expositions of the texts that they read, taught, and copied. The present article highlights this field under the following topics: terminologies, formats, and character of gloss and commentary; the nature of large freestanding commentaries and examples of secular learned and literary texts that supported this particular form of critical approach; and interactions between text and commentary which gave rise to important theoretical understandings, including authorial intention and the interpretive control of the commentator. To illustrate the procedures of the twelfth-century glossator, there is no better example than the practice of William of Conches in his influential glosses on Boethius's Consolatio Philosophiae.

Keywords: gloss and commentary; freestanding commentaries; glossator; William of Conches; Boethius's Consolatio Philosophiae

Article.  10199 words. 

Subjects: Classical Studies ; Classical Reception ; Medieval and Renaissance History (500 to 1500)

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